The Katy Trail – On Our Bikes Again

SF-KTbikeshadowwHeading out again to enjoy/tackle the Katy Trail after a great weekend in St. Louis with my family, Barry and I  felt better prepared (we carried less weight, had tools accessible, and had experienced biking miles each day), and this time, we drove our bikes to trail heads where we could reach good accommodations.  We did get to Clinton, at the west end of the Katy Trail although we didn’t bike all sections of the trail.  The second part of our trip began in Columbia, Missouri.  Highlights of our next five days on the trail include –



A land turtle sunning itself in the middle of the Katy Trail


A juvenile red-tailed hawk (I think) in a conservation area near Rocheport.


Migrating geese on the Missouri River.

The Katy Trail –

We love the trail, and for much of the time, we were the only people there.


The Katy along the Missouri River, the longest river in the U.S.




Trail head shelters offer information, shade, and in one instance for us, protection from the rain.


Perche Creek Bridge in McBaine


The Katy has one tunnel, the 1893 MK&T Train Tunnel, the  243 feet long, dark tunnel is near Rocheport.


The spur trail between Columbia and the Katy trail head was the most crowded part of the trail for us. Lots of joggers and dog walkers join bike riders on this well-used path.


A bench along the Katy Trail spur from Columbia


Columbia, Missouri, has three major universities. When I popped into this public library, I was so impressed with the collection, I almost wanted to live in Columbia.

Enjoying the college town atmosphere, we slept in Columbia for two nights and spent the days riding the Katy in different directions.

Surprises?  From the Katy in the section between Rocheport and Jefferson City, we could see Native American petroglyphs carved high on the cliffs.


Native American petroglyphs  on Missouri River cliffs.

Problems?  We saw lots of kudzu, the parasitic vine that blankets plants so very little needed light gets through.  I wanted to rip it all out.   Although the vines come out easily, they  grow back quickly and kill the plants they cover.



And we saw evidence of nitrogen runoff from the fields — probably too much chemical fertilizer.


Green scum covered this pond at the edge of soybean fields.

Also, why didn’t we see abundant wildlife?  The Complete Katy Trail Guidebook, 8th edition published in 2005, describes numerous birds on the trail: “St. Louis Audobon Society members had already identified about 12 birds in their first two minutes of being in McBaine: yellow rumped warbler, eastern phoebe, killdeer, grackle and the red-winged blackbird to name a few” (81).

Although we rode through McBaine, which was practically washed away in the 1993 flooding Missouri River, we saw few birds there or anywhere along the trail.  Is it because we are not practiced bird watchers?  Were we there at the wrong time of the year?  Especially in the conservation area where we saw the hawk, we did hear several birds, but I didn’t see even one red-winged blackbird.  Where are the birds?


Barry on the Katy

Entrepreneurial Spirit –   In the small towns along the now defunct rails some small businesses are evident.  Some wonderful old, restored houses are B&B’s catering to the Katy Trail riders.  The towns offer investment opportunities to daring entrepreneurs.


Here’s one house in Boonville that’s for sale: Asking price $9,999!


It does need some work!.


Many other homes have been well restored.


The Missouri headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.


Boonville has 450 sites on the National Register of Historic Places; many are homes on High Street.


What was once a shoe factory near the train station in Boonville is now a condominium.


Abigails, a restaurant with gourmet, healthy choices in Rocheport – a wonderful find.


Larry, the owner of Trailside Cafe in Rocheport offers good food – and good bicycle help.  With my portobello mushroom, grilled onions and green peppers, and feta sandwich, I had a lovely mound of fried okra – tasty!

History?  According to information on the Katy, we learned much about Missouri.  For instance, we learned that William Becknell and his handful of men left Franklin, Missouri, in 1821 with horses and mules for trade and headed west.  They met Mexican soldiers who said that Mexico had won independence from Spain and that trade with Mexico would be welcomed.  Becknell’s party went on to Santa Fe, traded their goods, and returned to Franklin in January 1822 with tremendous profits in silver.  Becknell made two more successful trading trips to Santa Fe and thus started more than fifty years of trade between the U.S. and Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail.


Commemoration  of the Santa Fe Trail – by artist Harry Weber in Franklin, Missouri

Surprises on the Trail –

A casino where we spent the night


Barry enjoying the Capri Isle Casino buffet in Boonville


Boonville renovated MKT train station


The unique Pearson’s clay tile elevator between New Franklin and Rocheport, at mile 184.5.

We were surprised by the town of Sedalia too.  The Bothwell Hotel, a beautifully renovated 1927 building, is well worth a stop.  Our room was the 1927 size but quite sufficient and lovely.


Hotel Bothwell dining room floor tile in Sedalia.


Dinner at the Hotel Bothwell


Hotel Bothwell in Sedalia, Missouri, has a long history, including being the place where Harry S. Truman found out he was being supported for a U.S. Senate seat.


Hotel Bothwell opened in 1927. The friendly staff stored our bicycles in a ballroom and gave us water and trail mix (and discounted prices) since we were riding the Katy!


Katy Trail humor – one box said “Rattlers” – inside were baby rattles.

Public Art –


Sedalia mural


Calhoun mural


On our final day on the trail, we made sure we were in McKittrich by 6pm so we could have dinner with  Joey and Rich at their Mercantile restaurant  🙂


“Between the idea/And the reality/Between the motion/And the act/Falls the shadow.” T.S. Eliot

We love the Katy Trail and think you will too.  Hop on your bikes and enjoy the Katy Trail.

To listen to Cindy Palos’ Travel Angel radio interview about the Katy Trail experience, go to <;.

And if you want to create some of the great food we had at  Joey’s Birdhouse in McKittrich, go to Joey’s Experimental Kitchen.  The link is for the first part of a series on naturally fermented foods.  We got to taste her sauerkraut, melon kim chi,  pickled red onions, and the berry scrub! :  <;

Aloha, Renée


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About reneeriley

Our blog was begun as a way to share our experiences in China. From August 2010 to July 2011, my husband, Barry Kristel, and I were at our University of Hawaii Maui College sister school, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University in Lin'an, China, a city considered rural because it has only 500,000 people! We had a wonderful time. Then in February 2012, we returned to teach this time at our other sister school, Shanghai Normal University, in a city of over 21 million people. We've made many discoveries. Did you know that now Chinese girls, at least the ones who go to university, for the most part feel they are luckier than the Chinese boys? Did you know that Shanghai saved over 20,000 European Jews during WWII? Do you know how Chinese university students would deal with problems that come up in Dear Abby letters? What's it like to be on the Great Wall of China? Do you know how many Chinese girls had their feet bound and why? And we have recipes from many of the places we've visited. Among others, you can find instructions on how to fry cicadas from one of my ZAFU students and how to make chocolate-Kahlua waffles from my brother Mike in Gainesville. You can also look back to our earliest entry to see what we experienced in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006 during the mainly peaceful six months of protest until the Mexican government sent in the troops. Between our stays in China, Barry and I have been on the Mainland U.S. visiting family, friends and Servas hosts as we traveled home to Maui. We share those experiences too. Welcome to our blog! Aloha and Zài Jiàn, Renée and Barry

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