On October 4, 1986, floodwater from the Missouri River severely damaged the track along the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad’s route from Sedalia to Machens, Missouri. The route had been washed out and repaired many times, but this time, railroad officials decided not to return the tracks to service. Lucky for cyclists, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources purchased the right-of-way with a private donation, and in 1990 the first segment of the Katy Trail officially opened. The crushed limestone trail currently extends from Clinton to Machens, MO, and plans are also underway to expand the trail to the suburbs of Kansas City.
katy trail

What to Know

The Start: Riders can start at the western terminus in Clinton, MO or in St. Charles, MO (east). The trail’s official eastern terminus is in Machens, MO 13 miles east of Katy TrailSt. Charles but isn’t as commonly used due to lack of services. Some riders choose to start in Sedalia, MO (leaving a vehicle there) and ride 190 miles to St. Charles. From there, they arrange a shuttle to St. Louis and take the Amtrak train (bikes allowed) back to Sedalia. The Trail: The Katy Trail is the United State’s longest “rails-to-trails” project. It follows the route of the MKT rail line, which means it never exceeds a 3% grade. It is a very well-maintained crushed limestone trail that is suitable for mountain bikes, touring bikes, cross bikes, and even road bikes (wider tires preferable). Camping: The website bikekatytrail.com gives a list of services offered in towns along the route. Camping is available in many towns, and even where it it not, you might ask a local if you can pitch a tent in their lawn. Unfortunately, Missouri State Park law does not allow you to camp along the trail. Weather: Spring can be rainy, and riders may expect more debris on the trail. Summer is hot and humid, and autumn is generally the best time to ride. But Be sure to check the weather in advance, and be prepared for the worst. Resupply: There are 27 official “trailheads” along the Katy Trail; they provide a variety of services ranging from food/lodging, water, camping, and parking.

     

Resources

Bike Katy Trail Website Missouri State Parks Bluffton Weather (middle of route) Katy Trail on Wikipedia

3 Comments

  1. The Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail “From St. Louis to the Western Sea” is my #1 Bucket List item, so when I was in St. Louis for a training conference in 2012, I took advantage of the opportunity to ride the Katy Trail from St. Charles, where Meriwether Lewis joined the Corps after meetings in St. Louis, to Matson. The bluffs across the Missouri River from Matson are where Lewis almost “perished in the attempt”, when he lost his footing and almost fell down the 300 foot cliff. Most of my miles on the L&C have been in South Dakota, so it was interesting to tour the Corps of Discovery Museum in St. Charles, and see where Lewis almost fell, as well as Defiance, the home of Daniel Boone, on the beautiful, super well maintained Katy Trail. Hopefully my Meriwether Cycles loaded touring/gravel bike, Discovery II (My Bianchi Volpe is Discovery I.), will be ready by next spring (2017) when my buddy Kc and I plan do the entire Katy trip, and follow the L&C all the way to Council Bluffs, IA. I was at an Emergency Services cycling conference, so I did that Katy stretch on my 26″ patrol MTB. I now have a 29er, but I think it would be a better ride on a touring bike with 700×35 or 38 wheels.

  2. Would it be possible to print some of your Katy Trail photos in a new book about gravel cycling? We have several pages dedicated to the Katy Trail and are looking for images. Do you have higher-resolution images available? If so, would you please contact me? We’re on a deadline and would appreciate a response either way soon, if at all possible. Thank you!

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