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Rural Missouri Magazine

Katy Trail State Park

by Jim McCarty

Once it was a railroad. Today it is an unbroken ribbon of crushed limestone stretching 225 miles from Clinton in the west to St. Charles in the east. Following part of the route Lewis and Clark took in their voyage of discovery, the Katy Trail State Park is the nation’s longest rails-to-trails project.

The flat and scenic trail is perfect for hiking, biking, walking and in one place, horseback riding. Along its course, it flirts with the Missouri River, winds in the shadows of towering limestone bluffs like those shown on our cover and passes through historic small towns that once were stops on the MKT Railroad.

While many of these towns cater to the frequent travelers along the trail, few have succeeded in as many ways as Rocheport, located just west of Columbia. Rocheport is known for the only tunnel on the trail, a 243-foot passage built in 1893 that is featured at left. Rocheport also offers several bed-and-breakfast inns, a museum, a winery, fine dining, bike rentals and supported group rides on the trail.

This time of year, the trail is often frequented by long-distance cyclists riding from town to town in a quest to complete the entire distance. They might meet equestrians along the trail between Sedalia and Calhoun, a distance of 25 miles. The Katy is arguably the best place to find fall color.

Planning a trip on the Katy Trail, whether it’s for the afternoon or the week, is easy thanks to a well-organized Web site at www.bikekatytrail.com. The site offers a guide to services at towns along the trail, along with distances between access points, a ride planner, a trail forum, photos of popular spots on the trail and frequently asked questions.

Another excellent resource is the state park office at 800-334-6946.

 

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