I've been riding bikes for more than 55 years, 35 of them in Mid-MIssouri.
There are numerous places that I enjoy riding on a regular basis. One of my favorites is Katy Trail State Park. The "Katy" is an outstanding amenity with easy access from Jefferson City thanks to the scenic pedestrian bridge across the Missouri River. (I recommend parking at the Clay Street Trailhead Plaza.) Having ridden the entire length of the trail, it is my opinion the portion from Jefferson City to Rocheport is among the best sections of the Katy.
The experience of riding the Katy changes with the seasons. The fall offers pleasant temperatures and numerous opportunities to enjoy fall colors. In winter, with the trees barren, the cliffs tower above the trail, while the distant hills across the river reveal the impressive size of the Missouri River bottom. In early spring the Hawthorn blossoms (the Missouri state flower), Dogwood (the Missouri state tree) and Redbud trees, along with phlox and other wildflowers, adorn the trail with delicate hues and fresh scents. Summer heat can make the riding more challenging, but morning and evening rides can be very enjoyable.
Over the years, the Katy has provided me and my family with many types of rides and memorable adventures. When our children were younger, our family would venture as far as Hartsburg and back. My wife Lori and I liked the Katy Trail so well that we bought our first tandem bicycle from J & D Bikes more than 15 years ago to make our rides more enjoyable. We have spent countless hours riding the trail. Sometimes we take just a short ride from the North Jefferson City trailhead to the picnic table or benches overlooking the Missouri River, where we enjoy the scenery and a glass of wine with cheese and crackers. Other times we journey to the Claysville Store to delight in Mark's fried chicken and Laura's homemade pies. Occasionally, we go as far as Hartsburg before stopping for dinner or lunch.
For those looking for a longer option, the ride from Jefferson City and up the MKT to Columbia is great any time of year. Just off the Katy past Hindman Junction, where the MKT begins, is the stately McBaine Burr Oak tree. It is worth the short ride off the trail to see the largest Burr Oak in Missouri, which is estimated to be 400 years old. Continuing on the Katy, you pass between the Missouri River and its surrounding bluffs to arrive at Rocheport, perhaps the most scenic section along the Katy.
I consider myself fortunate to live so near to one of the premier rail-to-trail systems in the entire United States. With the Katy Trail directly accessible from Jefferson City, and with so many different ways to have fun along the path, I hope you'll air up your tires and join in.
Wherever you start or end your ride, the Katy is worth the effort.
Karl Staub currently serves on the City of Jefferson Transportation and Traffic Commission. He is also a member of the City of Jefferson Park Resources and Planning Committee and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. He previously served on the City of Jefferson Parks and Recreation Commission.