Traveling the Katy Trail

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Cyclists, hikers, horseback riders, nature lovers and history buffs have been coming to Katy Trail State Park for more than 30 years to explore the longest developed rail-trail in the country.

Stretching 237 miles across the mid-section of Missouri, the Katy Trail is built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (often called the MKT or Katy). The mostly level, crushed-limestone trail connects Machens, located near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and Clinton, a stone’s throw from Truman Lake.

What You’ll See

Much of the Katy Trail runs alongside the Missouri River, the longest river in North America, and travels through forests and fields, beneath leafy canopies and past towering bluffs. More than 20 small towns are located on or near the trail.

Twenty-six trailheads and four fully restored historic depots offer easy access on and off the trail. You’ll find a variety of restaurants, breweries, wineries, shops and overnight accommodations along the way.

You can travel the Katy Trail all year long – and many people do – but the best time to visit is spring, when the forests are filled with flowering trees, and autumn, when the hillsides are ablaze with fall color. The milder temperatures are perfect for cycling, hiking and horseback riding.

Katy Trail Basics

Katy Trail State Park is open to bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians (in designated areas) from sunrise to sunset. Pets are welcome but must be on a leash at all times.

Make sure you have a plan for drinking water, meals and snacks if you plan to be out on the trail for several hours or longer.

Restrooms and water are available at some trailheads year-round. At other trailheads, the restrooms are closed, and water is shut off November through March. Check the Katy Trail State Park webpage for specific information.

Find the latest information about trail conditions here.

If you’ll be leaving a vehicle overnight or for multiple days at a trailhead or parking lot, contact the Katy Trail State Park Office at 573-449-7402 and provide them with your vehicle details.

A top-down view of a cyclist pedaling along the trail with green trees along the path.
The Katy Trail stretches nearly 240 miles across Missouri.

Navigating the Trail


Whether you’re casually cycling with your family or friends or training for your next century ride, the trail’s mostly level surface and abundant rest areas make it perfect for cyclists of all skill levels. In addition to traditional bicycles, electrically assisted pedal-powered bicycles and tricycles with a maximum speed of 20 mph are allowed on the trail. (Motorized vehicles, including ATVs and ORVs, are not allowed on the trail.)

Bike shops at several points along the trail provide a place to air up your tires and handle other maintenance issues. Several shops offer bike rentals.

An image of the Portland trailhead, with a child on horseback and a woman holding the reins.
Two sections of the trail are open to horseback riding.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riders are welcome to ride the Katy Trail on the 34.7-mile section from Clinton to the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia and on the 15.3-mile stretch between Tebbetts and Portland in central Missouri. Equestrian trailer parking is located at the Henry County Fairgrounds in Clinton and the fairgrounds in Sedalia as well as the trailheads in Calhoun, Windsor, Green Ridge and Mokane.

An overhead image of a steel bridge spanning the Missouri River.
Much of the Katy Trail follows the Missouri River.

Things To Do on the Katy Trail

Explore Historic Sites

Historic St. Charles, located on the eastern edge of the trail, marks the beginning of Lewis and Clark’s expedition west. Visit Frontier Park along the Missouri River before heading to the restaurants and shops downtown. 

Take a short detour off the trail outside the town of Defiance to visit The Historic Daniel Boone Home. The homestead depicts life in the early 1800s and helps bring the legacy of the famed frontiersman to life. 

In Jefferson City, tour the Missouri State Capitol., located just south of the Katy Trail. Built in 1917, the capitol is filled with art, including one of Thomas Hart Benton’s most famous murals, A Social History of Missouri.

At the Katy Depot in Sedalia, explore the history of the MKT Railroad and how the Katy Trail came into existence. In August, the town plays host to the Missouri State Fair.

Eat, Drink and Stay on the Trail

Restaurants, breweries and wineries, located near the trail or a short bike ride away, are a great place to fuel up before heading out, take midday break or relax at the end of a ride.

Try the sandwiches, coffee and baked goods at the Bike Stop Cafe in St. Charles. The shop also offers bike rentals and a shuttle service for trips of any length to make it easy to hit he trail and get back to your car.

Start your day with pancakes or French toast at Meriwether Cafe and Bike Shop in Rocheport. The trailside restaurant also serves soups, salads and sandwiches, including vegetarian options, with a focus on locally produced ingredients.

Pair a craft cocktail with steak, seafood or pasta at the No. 5 Bistro & Bar in Sedalia. The restaurant’s industrial vibe pays tribute to the building’s former life as a clothing manufacturing facility.

Along the trail, you’ll pass through the heart of Historic Missouri Wine Country, home to Augusta, Defiance and Hermann. Sample Missouri wines made from local grapes before checking in at one of the area’s charming inns. 

Other accommodations near the trail include the Mount Nebo Inn in Rocheport and the historic Hotel Frederick in Boonville.

If you prefer to camp, a number of public and privately owned campgrounds are located nearby. Pitch a tent at the Hermann City Parks RV & Tent Camping or Cooper’s Landing, on bank of the Missouri River. (Camping is not allowed along the trail itself.)

Visit the Missouri State Parks website for more information about services along the Katy Trail.

Katy Trail Map

Find a map and detailed information about each section of the Katy Trail here.

Connecting Trails

Several trails connect with the Katy Trail, providing even more opportunities to explore the Show-Me State.

Rock Island Trail State Park (Rock Island Spur)

A 47.5-mile trail connects to the Katy Trail in Windsor and runs to Pleasant Hill, a short drive from Kansas City. Formerly called the Rock Island Spur, the trail is now part of Missouri’s new Rock Island Trail State Park.

Spanning a section of the former corridor of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, the route has four trailheads. The trail runs through prairie land, farm fields and dense forest and crosses several streams and rivers. It’s the only segment of the Rock Island Trail currently complete and open to the public.

MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

Travel from the Katy Trail into Columbia, Missouri’s quintessential college town, on the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail. The 8.9 mile route meets the Katy Trail at the McBaine Trailhead and connects to Columbia’s trail system, offering access to the downtown area.

Katy Trail Spur – Jefferson City

Pedal across the “wide Missouri” to the heart of the capital city. The Katy Trail Spur runs from the North Jefferson Trailhead across the Missouri River Pedestrian/Bike Bridge and into Jefferson City. The pedestrian/bike bridge is attached to the Missouri River Bridge and provides expansive views of the river and the Missouri State Capitol.

Take a Rail and Trail Trip

For a multimodal adventure, combine a ride on the Katy Trail with a trip on Amtrak’s Missouri River Runner. Cycle to one of the Amtrak stations along the trail and ride the train back to your starting point. Or travel by train to your destination and bike back to where you began. Either way, it’s an unforgettable trip teeming with scenic views and trailside towns to explore. Be sure to make reservations to bring your bike aboard the train.