Photo: Christopher Hammond



In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.

JOHN MUIR

One of the country’s most spectacular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts is not a single place but a 240-mile pathway spanning the state of Missouri called the Katy Trail. This trail, the longest developed “Rail-to-Trail” project in the entire United States, was once the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad nicknamed the K-T – or “Katy” for short – and converted into a crushed limestone path for hiking, running and cycling.

Photo: Kevin J. Miyazaki

FROM SERIOUS CYCLISTS TO FAMILY FUN, THE KATY TRAIL IS FOR EVERYONE

Whether you are a cycling enthusiast who loves adventurous long treks or perhaps you are looking for a casual bike ride with the whole family, the Katy Trail accommodates all types. There are more than 30 access points to the trail, many of them next to family owned businesses that offer bike rentals, refreshment, dining and lodging. Most of the trail follows closely along the Missouri River from Machens, MO (north of St. Charles) to Boonville before it departs the river and turns south, ending at Clinton, MO – just off the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks.

The Katy Trail is a delightful way to take in a variety of scenery. Pass through thick, leafy enclaves that open up to wide open grassy fields as far as the eye can see. The trail follows part of the Lewis and Clark Trail where limestone bluffs tower over the path and meanders past small towns and various slices of Americana that are distinctly “Missouri.” Since the trail was once a railway, enjoy historic depots and old train cars and ride over many rustic bridges and through stone tunnels.

rocheport, MO
Photo: Aaron Fuhrman

Photo: Christopher Hammond

THE BIG OAK TREE

It’s about leisure as much as it is adventure

Much of the charisma and charm of the Katy Trail comes from the stops you can make along the way. And there are plenty of reasons to stop. The Katy Trail connects you to more than 30 wineries, 80 B&Bs and countless antique shops and artist studios.

For those seeking a taste of authentic Missouri vintage, find clusters of vineyards and wineries in the Augusta and Hermann areas. Both towns have plenty of warm hospitality – so plan on exploring awhile, and take advantage of several choices for an overnight stay. While Hermann is technically not on the trail, it is connected by a path less than three miles long and it's well worth the extra pedaling. Immerse yourself in German-American culture while taking in the breathtaking scenery on the banks of the Missouri River. The town is well known for its traditional German architecture and its amazing vineyards and restaurants.

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SMALL TOWN GETAWAYS

Head further west on the trail toward the middle of the state and find yourself just north the state capitol, Jefferson City. Pushing on from there, experience what is arguably one of the most scenic stretches of the Katy Trail as you complete 40 miles to Rocheport, MO. Rocheport is a quaint, small town with a historic district, antiques shopping and B&Bs. Lewis and Clark stopped here and traded with the Native American tribes.

MACHENS

ST. CHARLES

AUGUSTA

HERMANN

JEFFERSON CITY

ROCHEPORT

SEDALIA

CLINTON

For years, the Missouri Kansas Texas railroad operated a major hub in Sedalia, MO, which is also the home of the Missouri State Fair. A must-see is the Katy Depot, a national historic landmark built in 1896 out of limestone from the nearby Georgetown Quarry. This gorgeous train depot houses a series of exhibits that pay homage to the railroad and how it influenced the community.

One of the more distinctive aspects of the Katy Trail between Sedalia and Clinton is horseback riding. Horses are prohibited elsewhere, making this 35 mile path a special treat for equestrians to enjoy the trail along with their fellow hikers and cyclists. The trailhead parking lots on this stretch are more spacious to accommodate trucks with horse trailers.

Photo: Christopher Hammond

There may be several other rails-to-trails projects in the United States but none rival the history, enchanting imagery and charm the Katy Trail delivers to folks of all ages.

Make your plans to explore today – the trail is calling.

Katy Trail

Photo: Aaron Fuhrman