Planet   Backpacker
  "From flying monkey gods and amorous donkeys to tales of a bus caravan speeding through a terrorist-infested desert, Downes puts you right there with him."-- Ben Gohs, Charlevoix Courier
  "From flying monkey gods and amorous donkeys to tales of a bus caravan speeding through a terrorist-infested desert, Downes puts you right there with him."-- Ben Gohs, Charlevoix Courier
Biking Missouri's Katy Trail
Katy Trail State Park, Planet Backpacker
Cycling the bluffs of Missouri on the Katy Trail. Photo by Robert Downes
Word has it that cyclists have been known to melt into grease spots along Missouri's Katy Trail in the high summer months through a combination of heat and humidity. Thus, my wife Jeannette and I opted for a 217-mile tour of the trail in early-October when conditions were pleasantly balmy.
  The rail-trail is actually a 240-mile state park, made up of the right-of-way of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (aka the KT Railroad, thus "Katy).  It ranges along the north side of the Missouri River from just outside St. Louis to the farmlands of Clinton, Missouri.
  Paved with limestone gravel, this is the longest rail-trail in America and it's a delight to ride as you wheel beneath the high bluffs of the Missouri River on  the same route that Lewis & Clark took at the beginning of their 1804-1806 Corps of Discovery Expedition across the West.  There are numerous historic markers along the trail describing incidents from the expedition, such as the time Meriwether Lewis nearly got killed falling off one of the towering cliffs by the river.

  Word has it that cyclists have been known to melt into grease spots along Missouri's Katy Trail in the high summer months through a combination of heat and humidity. Thus, my wife Jeannette and I opted for a 217-mile tour of the trail in early-October when conditions were pleasantly balmy.
The rail-trail is actually a 240-mile state park, made up of the right-of-way of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (aka the KT Railroad, thus "Katy). It ranges along the north side of the Missouri River from just outside St. Louis to the farmlands of Clinton, Missouri.
   Paved with limestone gravel, this is the longest rail-trail in America and it's a delight to ride as you wheel beneath the high bluffs of the Missouri River on the same route that Lewis & Clark took at the beginning of their 1804-1806 Corps of Discovery Expedition across the West. There are numerous historic markers along the trail describing incidents from the expedition, such as the time Meriwether Lewis nearly got killed falling off one of the towering cliffs by the river.

  Cyclists may be more cheered, however, by the trail's numerous watering holes and cycle facilities: brewpubs, diners, taverns, wineries and cycle shops. In the town of Defiance, for instance, we enjoyed a BBQ lunch and live music at the Trail Smokehouse and also got Jeannette's brakes fixed at the very friendly Katy Bike Rental shop.
The trail was packed with hundreds of riders on the weekend and we encountered many cycle tourers mid-week. Here and there you catch majestic views of the Missouri River as you roll through forests, farmlands and beneath the bluffs.

Cyclists may be more cheered, however, by the trail's numerous watering holes and cycle facilities: brewpubs, diners, taverns, wineries and cycle shops.  In the town of Defiance, for instance, we enjoyed a BBQ lunch and live music at the Trail Smokehouse and also got Jeannette's brakes fixed at the very friendly Katy Bike Rental shop.
  The trail was packed with hundreds of riders on the weekend and we encountered many cycle tourers mid-week. Here and there you catch majestic views of the Missouri River as you roll through forests, farmlands and beneath the bluffs.

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Katy Trail
Map of the trail from BikeKatyTrail.com
 Although there were few campgrounds, the towns along the route generally take an anything-goes attitude toward cycle camping; we spent our first night camping in the shadow of a grain silo just off the trail in the village of Treloar.  On our next night we stayed at the Turner Katy Trail Shelter in the village of Tebbetts, a hostel at mile 131 that offers 40 beds, showers and a kitchen. (That kitchen came in handy as the only restaurant in town had closed.) On another night, we camped in a baseball field.  Many riders simply stay at B&Bs.
  Urban highlights just off the trail included the old German town of Hermann, which offers a popular Octoberfest celebration each fall.  Also, Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri offers a number of sights, including the spectacular Americana murals of Thomas Hart Benton in the state capitol building, which has to be one of the grandest civic palaces in the country.

  Although there were few campgrounds, the towns along the route generally take an anything-goes attitude toward cycle camping; we spent our first night camping in the shadow of a grain silo just off the trail in the village of Treloar. On our next night we stayed at the Turner Katy Trail Shelter in the village of Tebbetts, a hostel at mile 131 that offers 40 beds, showers and a kitchen. (That kitchen came in handy as the only restaurant in town had closed.) On another night, we camped in a baseball field. Many riders simply stay at B&Bs.
Urban highlights just off the trail included the old German town of Hermann, which offers a popular Octoberfest celebration each fall. Also, Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri offers a number of sights, including the spectacular Americana murals of Thomas Hart Benton in the state capitol building, which has to be one of the grandest civic palaces in the country.

GETTING THERE & BACK
  We started our ride about 15 miles west of St. Louis just shy of the city of St. Charles. There's an extended-stay parking lot just off the freeway where cyclists can park for the duration of their tour.
  Initially, we had planned to take the Amtrak train from the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood and then ride back from Sedalia, 229 miles further on.  This idea turned out to be a bust when we discovered that there seemed to be no place to park in Kirkwood for our five-day ride; also it would involve a confusing, traffic-ridden ride through the suburbs back to the station from the trailhead.  
  We resolved to ride to Sedalia, 229 miles up the trail and then take the train halfway back to Hermann, but this too proved problematical in that there was no guarantee of getting our bikes on the train, which has limited capacity with reservations required.  With Octoberfest and the fall cycling season underway, there seemed little likelihood of catching a train for our return trip.

GETTING THERE & BACK
We started our ride about 15 miles west of St. Louis just shy of the city of St. Charles. There's an extended-stay parking lot just off the freeway where cyclists can park for the duration of their tour.
Initially, we had planned to take the Amtrak train from the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood and then ride back from Sedalia, 229 miles further on. This idea turned out to be a bust when we discovered that there seemed to be no place to park in Kirkwood for our five-day ride; also it would involve a confusing, traffic-ridden ride through the suburbs back to the station from the trailhead. 

  We resolved to ride to Sedalia, 229 miles up the trail and then take the train halfway back to Hermann, but this too proved problematical in that there was no guarantee of getting our bikes on the train, which has limited capacity with reservations required.  With Octoberfest and the fall cycling season underway, there seemed little likelihood of catching a train for our return trip.

Solution? We simply rode to Jefferson City at mile 143, stayed the night in the luxurious Capital Plaza Hotel (which has a special rate for cyclists), and began our return trip the next day.
There's some logic to making "Jeff City" an out-and-back destination. It's a fun town with lots of dining, shopping and historic opportunities and the best part of the Katy Trail is its scenic stretch between the capital and St. Charles. Riding further on, after you reach Boonville at mile 191 the trail leaves the Missouri River for some reportedly dull cycling through farmlands with an increase in elevation to boot.
Thus, we enjoyed viewing the Missouri bluffs again and stopping by some of the dining spots we had missed on the way out.
So, what's not to like? There were some mosquitoes, so bring bug spray. Otherwise, this trail is safe, flat, scenic and packed with amenities and geeked cyclists. This is one bike tour to put at the top of your "must do" list.
More info & maps: http://www.bikekatytrail.com

Solution? We simply rode to Jefferson City at mile 143, stayed the night in the luxurious Capital Plaza Hotel (which has a special rate for cyclists), and began our return trip the next day.
There's some logic to making "Jeff City" an out-and-back destination. It's a fun town with lots of dining, shopping and historic opportunities and the best part of the Katy Trail is its scenic stretch between the capital and St. Charles. Riding further on, after you reach Boonville at mile 191 the trail leaves the Missouri River for some reportedly dull cycling through farmlands with an increase in elevation to boot.
Thus, we enjoyed viewing the Missouri bluffs again and stopping by some of the dining spots we had missed on the way out.
So, what's not to like? There were some mosquitoes, so bring bug spray. Ot

S

Solution? We simply rode to Jefferson City at mile 143, stayed the night in the luxurious Capital Plaza Hotel (which has a special rate for cyclists), and began our return trip the next day.
There's some logic to making "Jeff City" an out-and-back destination. It's a fun town with lots of dining, shopping and historic opportunities and the best part of the Katy Trail is its scenic stretch between the capital and St. Charles. Riding further on, after you reach Boonville at mile 191 the trail leaves the Missouri River for some reportedly dull cycling through farmlands with an increase in elevation to boot.
Thus, we enjoyed viewing the Missouri bluffs again and stopping by some of the dining spots we had missed on the way out.
So, what's not to like? There were some mosquitoes, so bring bug spray. Otherwise, this trail is safe, flat, scenic and packed with amenities and geeked cyclists. This is one bike tour to put at the top of your "must do" list.
More info & maps: http://www.bikekatytrail.com

olution? We simply rode to Jefferson City at mile 143, stayed the night in the luxurious Capital Plaza Hotel (which has a special rate for cyclists), and began our return trip the next day.
There's some logic to making "Jeff City" an out-and-back destination. It's a fun town with lots of dining, shopping and historic opportunities and the best part of the Katy Trail is its scenic stretch between the capital and St. Charles. Riding further on, after you reach Boonville at mile 191 the trail leaves the Missouri River for some reportedly dull cycling through farmlands with an increase in elevation to boot.
Thus, we enjoyed viewing the Missouri bluffs again and stopping by some of the dining spots we had missed on the way out.
So, what's not to like? There were some mosquitoes, so bring bug spray. Otherwise, this trail is safe, flat, scenic and packed with amenities and geeked cyclists. This is one bike tour to put at the top of your "must do" list.
More info & maps: http://www.bikekatytrail.com

herwise, this trail is safe, flat, scenic and packed with amenities and geeked cyclists. This is one bike tour to put at the top of your "must do" list.
More info & maps: http://www.bikekatytrail.com

 Solution?  We simply rode to Jefferson City at mile 143, stayed the night in the luxurious Capital Plaza Hotel (which has a special rate for cyclists), and began our return trip the next day.
  There's some logic to making "Jeff City" an out-and-back destination.  It's a fun town with lots of dining, shopping and historic opportunities and the best part of the Katy Trail is its scenic stretch between the capital and St. Charles.  Riding further on, after you reach Boonville at mile 191 the trail leaves the Missouri River for some reportedly dull cycling through farmlands with an increase in elevation to boot.
  Thus, we enjoyed viewing the Missouri bluffs again and stopping by some of the dining spots we had missed on the way out.
  So, what's not to like? There were some mosquitoes, so bring bug spray.  Otherwise, this trail is safe, flat, scenic and packed with amenities and geeked cyclists.  This is one bike tour to put at the top of your "must do" list.
  More info & maps: http://www.bikekatytrail.com
Solution?  We simply rode to Jefferson City at mile 143, stayed the night in the luxurious Capital Plaza Hotel (which has a special rate for cyclists), and began our return trip the next day.
  There's some logic to making "Jeff City" an out-and-back destination.  It's a fun town with lots of dining, shopping and historic opportunities and the best part of the Katy Trail is its scenic stretch between the capital and St. Charles.  Riding further on, after you reach Boonville at mile 191 the trail leaves the Missouri River for some reportedly dull cycling through farmlands with an increase in elevation to boot.
  Thus, we enjoyed viewing the Missouri bluffs again and stopping by some of the dining spots we had missed on the way out.
  So, what's not to like? There were some mosquitoes, so bring bug spray.  Otherwise, this trail is safe, flat, scenic and packed with amenities and geeked cyclists.  This is one bike tour to put at the top of your "must do" list.
  More info & maps: http://www.bikekatytrail.com

  Solution? We simply rode to Jefferson City at mile 143, stayed the night in the luxurious Capital Plaza Hotel (which has a special rate for cyclists), and began our return trip the next day.
There's some logic to making "Jeff City" an out-and-back destination. It's a fun town with lots of dining, shopping and historic opportunities and the best part of the Katy Trail is its scenic stretch between the capital and St. Charles. Riding further on, after you reach Boonville at mile 191 the trail leaves the Missouri River for some reportedly dull cycling through farmlands with an increase in elevation to boot.
Thus, we enjoyed viewing the Missouri bluffs again and stopping by some of the dining spots we had missed on the way out.
  So, what's not to like? There were some mosquitoes, so bring bug spray. Otherwise, this trail is safe, flat, scenic and packed with amenities and geeked cyclists. This is one bike tour to put at the top of your "must do" list.
More info & maps: http://www.bikekatytrail.com

Planet Backpacker
The Katy Trail runs for 240 miles along the Missouri RIver out of St. Louis. Photo by Robert Downes