Discover the Katy Trail blog
Day 8: Augusta to St.Charles
The last leg of our trip is marked with a handful of persimmon harvests. This time of year, the trees are loaded and dropping their jelly fruits in our path. A family of white tail deer run close ahead of us as we embrace our last stretch of wooded trail. Weldon Springs Conservation Area and several wetlands dot the trail, but soon the river views are replaced with tall city buildings. This seems to be one of the most frequented sections of trail – runners, cyclists, and walkers work up a sweat on this brisk morning. A half marathon that took place on the Katy has just finished and so we are back in the urban crowds we know, cycling carefully through thick traffic. The Katy Trail has spoiled us, it’s long wide path bordered with trees houses only the sounds of wildlife and fast moving river currents.
In St. Charles, we enjoy a local brew on the house at the Trailhead Brewing Co. and stretch in the grass by the river before making our way to the Lewis and Clark Boathouse museum.
The interpretive pirogue boats are housed here, as the name suggests, when they’re not on the water touring their way to the Pacific with educational programming. Because the building is located right on the Missouri River’s flood plain, the first floor has been built to flood and let the boats move with the rising and falling water level in their storage areas. Upstairs is a fascinating museum featuring a large diorama of the trek, artifacts and tools that were used by the crew, and a movie room where you can see the National Geographic documentary film about the Corps of Discovery.
Day 7: Hermann to Augusta
We were greeted with coffee and doughnuts from a bakery across the street from our host’s abode, then on our way to the next attraction. McKittrick is where the trail connects to Hermann, and this time, the McKittrick Mercantile is open for business. Rich and Joey run the place along with an art gallery and bed and breakfast next door. The smell of good food is distinguishable – they use as much local food as they can and even hold Local Food Circles meetings in the old high tin ceilinged restaurant and shop. Upstairs is a large ballroom and stage, quilts decorating the walls and vases of flowers in the window sills. The space is used for contra dances, wedding receptions, and tonight a Ukelele “rumble”.
Their bed and breakfast cabins are quaint and affordable. We are glad to have made a connection with these folks as they clearly care deeply for their place.
But we’ve got to keep pedaling in order to make it to Augusta for the Augusta Bottoms Beer Festival before the tasting tent closes for the day. We are given glasses and wrist bands to weave through crowds of tipsy tasters. There are over 40 participating breweries who dole out their best – lots of pumpkin, spicy, oktoberfest, chili, fruity, and uniquely flavored brews that occupy our taste buds until we just can’t take it anymore.
The breweries represent the St.Louis area and also several of the towns we’ve visited already along the trail. We are gifted a salami and chips to keep us sober enough to bike to Klondike Park, where we set up camp among throngs of inebriated festival goers. Be sure to reserve a camp in advance of the weekend as they fill quickly this time of year! We’ll be sleeping early and deeply tonight!
Day 6: Tebbetts to Hermann
A night at the Tebbett’s Turner Katy Trail Shelter protected us from the trip’s first stormy weather.
Owned and operated by the Conservation Foundation of Missouri Charitable Trust, the shelter includes two stories of bunk beds, a bike repair room with tools, a picnic table, fridge, “give and take” cabinet, first aid, and a very sweet front porch frequented by a sweet pup.
We layered with rain protection for the 55 degree high and scattered showers as we made our way to McKittrick. The McKittrick Mercantile is a popular stop, open on weekends, where tonight, October 6th, there is a Ukelele competition! But we’ll miss it as we’ll be on our way to Augusta for their Beerfest, 35 miles away. Instead, we took the trail spur into Hermann, where the German town of 2400 is gearing up for their Oktoberfest weekends. All of the bed and breakfasts are booked, the restaurants are bustling. We meet up with Shelbie Blank, another of our fellow AmeriCorps VISTAs who is doing local food promotion here in Hermann. She takes us to Hermann’s finest: The Barrel Bar and Concert Hall for authentic German food, and later, Stone Hill Winery for German Chocolate Cake, Apple Strusel, and wine tasting with Ray. Ray provides all the cheese pairings with his one liners and banter.
Shelbie was kind enough to host us at her apartment for this second cold night. We are so grateful for her generosity!
Day 5: Huntsdale to Tebbets
We packed up in the company of the fast moving Missouri River, paid our camping fee at Katfish Katy’s, and made our way back to the trail. Just a short ride from the McBaine trail head is Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area – enjoy an elevated view with this little climb. Cooper’s Landing is just past Providence and the eye catching “Boat Henge”.
Cooper’s is not only a boat access and campground, it is also a popular hangout for riders and locals alike to enjoy music, authentic Thai food at Chim’s, fishing, late night campfires, and good company. Check out their schedule at www.cooperslanding.net.
Hartsburg was our next stop, pumpkins ripening nicely on their vines beside the trail.
This small town is home of the Pumpkin Festival, which will be all of next weekend, October 13th-14th, 2012. We grabbed a quick lunch at Dotty’s Cafe, then hopped back on our saddles for the ride to Jefferson City.
Thanks to the newly added Pat Jones Pedestrian and Bicycle Lane, safe access across the River into Missouri’s capitol city is now possible. Climb the winding ramp to the bridge and you’ll be ready for a bite of ice cream. We made it to Central Dairy with an appetite, and it’s a good thing, because their servings are enormous!
Dawn Frederickson, the Katy Trail State Park Coordinator, met us at the North Jefferson City Park Pavilion to discuss what’s new with the trail. We exchanged ideas and feedback and look forward to working with her more in the future.
Day 4: Boonville to Huntsdale
Up early in the dew of Kemper Park’s expansive meadow, we made our way to Taylor’s
Bake Shop, a well recommended stop for coffee and breakfast sweets. One of few grocery stores along the Katy Trail can be found on Boonville’s Main Street, so we stocked up for our Rocheport dinner that evening.
The short ride was complete with a spectacular view of the Missouri River from the bridge connecting Boonville to the trail, and a stop at the Katy Roundhouse in New Franklin.
On the West side of Rocheport, we got off our bikes to hike into Diana Bend Conservation Area. From the Diana Bend perch, we admired wetlands, colorful leaves, and wildflowers.
We rolled into Rocheport in the early afternoon to find many small shops open and welcoming. Many other cyclist passed by and greeted us as they enjoyed the artsy community. Brigg’s Pond Bed and Breakfast would host our evening’s event: a biker made dinner and another presentation about all the Katy Trail has to offer. We were able to prepare the meal at the neighbor’s kitchen, and socialize with locals who revealed our kitchen host’s mandolin making wood shop out back. We invited local business owners to our Katy Trail Merchants and Communities meeting held at the Community Hall before the meal gathering.
After filling ourselves with good company and excellent food, we pedaled on to Huntsdale, home of Katfish Katy’s campground and store. The moonlight reflected brightly in the Missouri River at our side as we rested up before our next day’s ride.
Day 3: Sedalia to Boonville
Leaving Sedalia Fairgrounds where we had camped, we stopped briefly to admire the Bothwell Hotel, where many of the Katy’s travelers stay before hitting the trail once again.
In Pilot Grove, just one stop before entering Boonville, we noticed a small sign on the Trail head community bulletin board: Becky’s Burgers and Cones. Closing in 2 minutes! We hurried for a treat – chocolate pudding pie and homemade apple cake and ice cream using apples from Becky’s tree. The fuel kept us going uphill into Boonville, where we encountered more Tour de Ted riders and support. They informed us of a new addition to the Boonville Depot, a “Fix it Station” including a bike repair stand,
tools, and pump. We also had a chance to chat with Chuck of Chuck’s Bikes in Boonville. He does mobile bike repair – just give him a call (660)537-2048 and he’ll be there in 5!
Melissa Strawhun met us at the Cooper’s Oak Winery entrance along with a mother daughter pair who joined us for a tour of Thespian Hall and the Old Jail. Thespian Hall is still used today for special events, dance and vocal performances. You can even rent it out for a wedding! The building itself opened in 1857 and it became protected under the National Register of
Historic Places in 1969. Restoration is an ongoing process, and maintenance requires persistent funding. The Old Jail is just a few blocks away. We entered via the Sheriff’s family home, connected to the jail. A heavy door separates the home from approximately 20 cells. Anecdotes on the jail walls remind us how recently it was used and the perspectives of its inmates. Out back still stands the hanging barn where the last public hanging was held in 1930.
We strolled back to Cooper’s Oak Winery where Theresa greeted us with glasses of their finest: Chambourcin, Norton, Michelle’s sweets, Port, and more! The winery is named for the family cooperage operation that continues to produce the oak barrels where their wines are aged. After the tastings, we gathered for a brief presentation and discussion about the Katy Trail’s history from AmeriCorps VISTAs (yours truly).
Camping at Kemper Park accommodated us well – showers are available as early as 5:15am at the next door YMCA building.
Day 2: Windsor to Sedalia
From Farrington Park’s sunrise, we made our way back into town, to the Hawthorn Bank, where members and interested Katy Trail business people joined us for a Katy Trail Merchants and Communities meeting. We recieved excellent feedback and were able to share our interest in making information about Katy Trail towns more accessible to riders.
We ate well at the Wagon Wheel Cafe in downtown Windsor – the turtle cream pie would give us the energy for the next section of trail!
As we entered Sedalia, backyards full of art, the high school building, and the Sedalia Fairgrounds line the edge of trail. The Katy
Depot welcomes us to its fair city. A group of Cub Scouts learned bike maintenance with us at the Champion Bicycles workshop we scheduled with Steve Champion, and we all enjoyed the Katy Depot Museum tour afterwards with Kathleen. Kathleen explained to us that the 115 year old building which was restored for current use once was separated into a women’s waiting room, a men’s waiting
room, a small restaurant and ticket booth. The building is gorgeous with ornate wood finishes, stained glass windows, and tin cieling tiles. Currently the museum is featuring an exhibit on the rail workers. You can even practice using a telegraph, typing morse code, and be sure to check out the book swap room where the old ticket booth once was!
Day 1: Clinton to Windsor
Our ride began with a send off from Brent Hugh, Director of the MO
Bike and Ped Federation. He explained that the Kansas City connector trail, which will connect in Windsor (not Clinton, the Western most point of the Katy) is pending some legal ownership rights related to the railway, although we were assured that it will indeed be built. The first five miles from Pleasant Hill are already built and ready for a ribbon cutting. The excitement of towns like Pleasant Hill and Windsor are contributing greatly to the assuredness of its establishment. We also discussed the need for more river crossings from the trail, and are glad to report that MODoT has been more on board than ever with efforts to add small bike lanes on the sides of large roadways crossing into towns along the trail. Safety is an unwarranted concern – there have not been any accidents from cars crossing over into sectioned off bike lanes on bridges.
After downing a beer and handfulls of Backer’s (MO made) chips, we
parted with Steve Johnson and his wife Meghan, and the family of 6 we met at the Trailhead who were also preparing for a cross-state ride together. Brent joined us for the first several miles of trail, which are some of the only miles of slightly hilly prairie sections. The railroad passed through MO South of the Missouri River on the Western half of the state because in the 1800s, this area was rather boggy and would have been more difficult for building tracks.
Immediately we are encoutering the biodiversity that Lewis and Clark must have admired as they passed through this part of the country – turtles cross unabashedly, fallen Osage Orange fruits smell sweet and citrusy like their blossoms, sweet Sumac tempts us with her dry berries which make a lovely tea, Goldenrod and bright
Sunflowers line the trail. Most of the Katy is a tunnel of trees that are just starting to turn and drop their yellow leaves. This is certainly a lovely time to be riding from end to end, and we are eager to witness these parts of the trail during other seasons for comparison.
In Windsor, we staked out a campsite at Farrington Park, where the large central lake hosts fisher folks, birthday parties, seasonal festivals including the Holiday “Moonlight Madness”, “Christmas in the Park”, “Septemberfest”, and more! We are delighted to see around 10-20 folks enjoying the park that is only a few blocks from the Windsor Trailhead. There isn’t a designated bike shop in town, but we learned the following morning that the Hardware store you can see from the trail has bike parts and repair options should you be in need.
check it out: Lewis & Clark Bicycle Route through Missouri mapped on google! and the Adventure Cycling Association features an entire Lewis & Clark cross country route!
Stay tuned for the DISCOVER THE KATY TRAIL biker blog during our September 30th through October 7th event series along the river!
map of all event sites:
View Discover the Katy Trail in a larger map
Free EVENTS for EVERYONE:
Start!! Clinton – Sunday, September 30th
3:00pm Trailhead kickoff event with special guest Brent Hugh, Director of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation, music and local booze.
Brent will discuss the growing MO bicycle movement and possible new spur trails into Kansas City.
~35 miles to Sedalia – Monday, October 1st
4:00pm Champion Bicycles trail maintenance workshop (in the Katy Depot), followed by a Katy Depot Museum tour at 5:30pm
~35 miles to Boonville – Tuesday, October 2nd
4:00pm walking tour of the Old Thespian Hall and Historic Jail with the Friend’s of Historic Boonville – meet at Coopers Oak winery!
5:30pm return to Coopers Oak Winery for an award winning wine tasting with an MRCN Katy Trail presentation.
~13 miles to Rocheport – Wednesday, October 3rd
6:30pm Briggs Pond BnB local foods dinner with MO River Communities Network Katy Trail presentation
rsvp for dinner in advance and be entered in a raffle for a night at Briggs Pond Bed n Breakfast! you may pay now via PayPal, or pay (in cash only please) the night of the event.
~35 miles to Jeff City – Thursday, October 4th
5:30pm DNR’s Katy Trail State Park Coordinator, Dawn Frederickson will tell us about the history, conservation, ins and outs of the trail at the North Jeff City Park Pavilion
with Prison brews and Summit Lake wine
~20 miles to St.Charles – Sunday, October 7th
3:00pm Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center museum tour
with a screening of the National Geographic Lewis & Clark film
followed by a finale refreshment at Trailhead brewing co.
One month later:
Tuesday, November 13th
learn about the whole trip with a slideshow and feedback at the
Big Muddy Speaker Series at Les Bourgeois winery in Rocheport 6:30pm