Stretching 237.7 miles long and 100 feet wide, Missouri’s scenic Katy Trail State Park features a crushed limestone path for hiking or biking and is likely the skinniest state park in the country. It was started over a century ago as the Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad, also known as the K-T, for which it found its name. Thanks to its roots as a historic rail line, the trail is smooth, nearly level and an easy hike or ride for all experience levels.
Featuring more than two dozen trailheads marking entrances and exits to the park, cyclists and hikers can pick and choose the routes they wish – some staying for an hour or two with others staying for days. While much of the trail is open to the hot Missouri sun, it also winds through beautifully shaded canopies and extensive bluffs along the famed Missouri River. Known not only for its scenic views of the Missouri river and farmlands, but the Katy Trail also boasts many notable stops where hikers and cyclists can rest and learn a bit more about the land.
Marking the trail’s most eastern point is a spot called Machens. Quiet and secluded, it is accessible only by foot or bike and was once a busy trail that served as a junction point for the MK&T and CB&Q railroads. Also found along the trail is a statue honoring the intrepid explorers, Lewis & Clark, who in May of 1804, spent several days in St. Charles before going upriver and on to make history.
In Augusta, cyclists can find an incredible number of craft and artisan shops, charming B&Bs and bright eateries that now almost equals its population. Another vibrant trail town is Hermann, a renowned hub for Missouri’s vast wine industry. And at Rocheport, cyclists and hikers can pass through Katy’s only tunnel. They can also stop in the town of Sedalia, known as the home of the Missouri State Fair.
In recent years, the Katy has helped revitalize the small, colorful towns that stretch over the rugged hillsides and hug the trail. Like much of the historic Missouri farmland, adventurers will find the trail’s neighboring cities and towns kept neat and clean. The residents and local businesses are friendly and accommodating, and very welcoming to visitors.