Katy Trail, America’s Longest Rails to Trails Project


God willing and the creek don’t rise. That was my Grandpa’s answer when someone asked if his plans were still a go. Those words are very fitting to my next planned biking adventure. Although it would be appropriate to change the word creek to river. If all goes as planned I will begin riding The Katy Trail starting, Sunday November, 13th 2016.

At an official 237.7 miles long The Katy is billed as America’s Longest Rail to Trail Conversion, a mere 50 or so miles short of traversing the state of Missouri from border to border. The Katy trail is the former Missouri-Kanasas-Texas (MK&T) Railroad. In 1986 the railroad ceased operations and through a lot of effort from trail enthusiasts, the railroad property was spared from being deeded to adjacent landowners. In 1990 the first section of The Katy Trail was opened for business.

Map courtesy of Wikipedia

So the question is why bike The Katy? What is so special about it? Can say with certainty I would not be making the 8 hour drive from Michigan to Missouri or even know about the Katy if it were not for my son Matthew. He has been living in St. Charles, MO (The eastern end of the Katy) a few years now and has run on the trail many times. When visiting him in April of this year I looked into the trail as a possible bikepacking trip, even bought a Katy Trail guide-book while in St. Charles. Now with a few vacation days available and in need of a life attitude adjustment, I decided to tackle The Katy before the bitter cold sets in.

The plan is simple. Load up for a self-supported trip across Missouri, have Matthew drop me off at the western terminus of the Katy in Clinton, MO and peddle my keister back to his house. Obviously this is not a day trip, and therefore will need to set up my tent at some of the campgrounds available along the route. Given the relatively flatness of the terrain along the old rail bed and the trail’s smooth surface of fine crushed limestone, the miles are expected to click off relatively quickly. Original calculations had me completing the trip in three days. However digging into the guide-book and realizing The Katy passes through over two-dozen towns full of attractions and history, my timeline has been amended to make it a four-day trip back to Matthew’s. Heck I have the whole week off from work. If the weather and my mood is good, just may take an extra day to enjoy the sights.

Roughly two-thirds of the Katy follows the Missouri river so this is where “God willing and the river don’t rise” is a literal statement for the fate of this trip. The only aspect that gives me a bit unease is the late fall timing is that here in Michigan we can fully expect snow the middle of November. However Matthew has nearly guaranteed there will be no snow in MO at that time, but the temps have the potential to be a bit chilly. A little research shows that historically the average high is 56°F and the average low is 38°F in November. Just hoping temps are going to be above average and it will be dry that week. I don’t like hate being cold.

Just as I had done while riding the Great Divide Route last year, the iPad mini will be brought along and put to good use providing daily entries of the adventure, complete with pictures. Anybody interested in keeping up to date on how the trip progresses, can sign-up to receive email updates whenever those entries are posted. Sign-up at the top of the column to your right at ‘Subscribe for Updates’.

Hope you enjoy


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