Cycling the Katy Trail

Riding the 240-mile Katy Trail State Park could take nearly a week, but short segments of the limestone rail-to-trails project make great mini-adventures. Try one of these scenic routes.

By Sony Hocklander, Jenna deJong

Sep 2023

Rocheport MO
Photo courtesy Shutterstock

Boonville to Rocheport: 13.5 miles

Start: 2 hours 50 minutes north of Springfield
The historic Boonville is a good place to start for its rail-themed amenities near the trailhead, including Derailed Coffee Bar and Café and the Rivers, Rails & Trails Museum and Visitors Center. Try Hotel Frederick for an overnight. And more than a century old, the Katy Depot is the last with Spanish mission style architecture along the old railroad.

Before leaving Boonville, take a spur to the historic 408-foot Katy Lift-Span Bridge. Then, about four miles past New Franklin, watch for the 1921 abandoned Pearsons grain elevator. After riding through the Rocheport Tunnel, take a break in the restored 1800s river town full of quaint shops, dining and lodging options including the Meriwether Café and Bike Shop and the Blufftop, a trailside vineyard retreat.

Rocheport to Hartsburg: 24.7 miles

Start: 3 hours north of Springfield
Pedaling east from Rocheport along scenic bluffs and the Missouri River, take a short side trip to the historic McBaine Burr Oak—Missouri’s oldest tree. Cross the Perche Creek Bridge to the McBaine Trailhead where an optional spur takes you into Columbia. From here, watch for BoatHenge, a must-stop where six fiberglass boats are planted vertically into the ground. After crossing over the Little Bonne Femme Creek, take a break at the charming Cooper’s Landing for riverside refreshments. You might even catch some live music.

Winding along river and fields, end your trek in Hartsburg, known for its Pumpkin Festival the second weekend of October. Stop for a cold brew at historic local tavern The Hitching Post or pub grub and steaks at The Burg. If you're looking for somewhere to stay in Rocheport, cozy up at The Amber House Bed & Breakfast, a luxury bed-and-breakfast with charming accents. The abode is just a two-minute drive to the winery and most suitable for a romantic getaway, but it also welcomes children ages 14 and up. Conclude your trip at the in-house massage studio.  

McKittrick / Hermann to Augusta: 34.5 miles

Start: 3+ hours northeast of Springfield
Welcome to Missouri wine country! Between McKittrick and Augusta are plenty of wineries, breweries and historic spots. For lodging in Augusta, consider the HS Clay House or rent a cabin or campsite at Klondike Park. Or pick a place in Hermann. Known for its German settlers, Hermann isn’t on the Katy but is easily reached by a three-mile spur. The town features quaint cafes, shops and the Deutscheim State Historic Site with preserved 1800s structures.

Riding the trail east, views of the river and bluffs are spectacular between Gore and Bernheimer. In Marthasville, stop at Peers, a restored historic general store filled with memorabilia, gifts, treats, and occasionally, live music. Reaching Augusta, find plenty of spots to celebrate your ride including Good News Brewing Company and the Augusta Winery, serving thirsty riders just off the trail.