Whether you’re an avid bicyclist, hiker, nature lover or history
buff, Missouri’s Katy Trail State Park offers the visitor an opportunity to explore Missouri’s natural
beauty and rich history.
The long-distance hiking and biking trail, which traverses more than 200
miles along the Missouri River, welcomes people of all ages to discover the heart of the Heartland.
The Katy Trail State Park runs 225 miles from St. Charles to Clinton.
Although the trail’s scenery changes often, the hard-packed gravel trail remains fairly level
and constant as it meanders through the countryside. Trailheads, which provide bike rentals,
refreshments, restrooms and parking are located periodically along the trail.
The trail is handicapaccessible
and many of the bike shops offer a variety of bike types—for sitting down, standing up,
two people—you name it.
No matter what the season, the Katy Trail’s scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. A trip along
the trail affords views of Missouri’s diverse landscapes—from sandstone and limestone bluffs, dense
forests and pristine river views, to wetlands, gently rolling farm fields and remnant prairies. Visitors
will enjoy many scenic stretches with the mighty Missouri River on one side and towering bluffs on
With so many types of habitats, wildlife is abundant along the trail. Because of its location
along the Missouri River flyway, bird enthusiasts are likely to see and hear many species of
migrating birds and waterfowl along the trail. Soaring above the trail visitors can also see red-tailed
hawks, turkey vultures and bald eagles, which make their homes in the bluffs along the trail in the winter.
Chickadees, nuthatches, robins, orioles, great blue herons, sandpipers and many types of
woodpeckers are also common.
The Katy Trail weaves through dozens of small towns that once thrived along the railroad
corridor offering visitors a rich slice of rural history.
These small communities, which sprung up
along the river and the railroad, are now welcome stopping points for the Katy’s trailblazers.
Antique shops, quaint historic districts, cafes, craft shops and delightful bed and breakfast
establishments invite weary guests to stop off and explore awhile.
For a real treat, travelers can follow the Katy Trail as it weaves through Missouri’s wine
country, from Marthasville to St. Charles.
Wine enthusiasts will enjoy the opportunity to sample a
wide assortment of sophisticated tastes at 11 of the state’s renowned wineries, which cluster along
the banks of the Missouri River. With wineries and wonderful towns spaced at 10-mile intervals, a
day-tour of the region is extremely enjoyable.
History buffs will enjoy exploring the longest non-motorized public portion of the entire
Lewis and Clark Trail. The section of trail between St. Charles and Boonville has been designated
as an official segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, and markers designate
campsites and landmarks noted in the Corps of Discovery journals.
Near Rocheport, travelers can
view one of the rare surviving pictographs left by Native Americans. The pictograph was mentioned
in the journals of Lewis and Clark.
Every fall, the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, along with the Missouri Department of Natural
Resources, brings “Artists Along The Katy Trail” to the park. The event draws more than 200 artists
to the area to interpret the beauty of the 225-mile Katy Trail State Park over a four-week period. The
artists spend their days transferring sites along the trail onto paper, using techniques ranging from
watercolor and acrylic to oil and pencil sketches. Artists gather along the trail at various locations
and trailheads to paint on location.