The Katy Trail is a big ride.
Built on the bones of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, this dedicated bike trail is 240 miles long and nearly spans the state of Missouri.
There are no bad places to ride the Katy Trail, but for Kansas Citians who don’t have a full week to ride the entire route, the best place to plan a ride is Rocheport in Boone County, smack-dab in the center of the state.
There, you’ll find a taste of everything that makes the trail great, from a centuries-old railroad tunnel to an ancient oak tree to a winery with stunning views of the Missouri River. You’ll also find the Katy Trail B&B, which caters to riders and is only a few feet from the trail (101 Lewis St., Rocheport, katytrailbb.com)
Heading west from the trailhead in Rocheport, you’ll encounter a 243-foot tunnel within the first mile of your ride. This railroad tunnel was built in 1892 using brick and native stone and is maybe the best place on the entire trail to stop for photos.
As you continue west, you’ll find yourself emerging from a canopy of trees to open fields as you pass a beautiful centuries-old red tile grain silo, several small bridges and a bikepacker campsite in New Franklin.
After 12 miles, you’ll cross the Missouri River and arrive in Boonville, a charming town that’s perfect for a break. My favorite spot is Derailed Coffee Bar & Cafe (104 W. Spring St., Boonville), just a few feet off the trail.
From here, you’ll want to head back to Rocheport.
At the end of the day, swing into Les Bourgeois Winery Blufftop Bistro (14010 W. Highway BB, Rocheport, missouriwine.com) for dinner and drinks with a gorgeous view of the valley as the sun sets on the Missouri River.
If you’ve got a second day to ride, start your day at the Meriwether Cafe & Bike Shop (700 First St., Rocheport, meriwethercafeandbikeshop.com) for breakfast. Meriwether is right next to the Rocheport trailhead and has house-made classics using locally sourced ingredients. Specials change daily, but be sure to try the sweets with a dirty chai latte or a cappuccino.
As you head east from Rocheport, you’ll ride along the Big Manitou Bluffs while enjoying scenic river views. On a hot day, tall trees provide plenty of shade, and numerous benches offer picturesque spots to rest. Be sure to stop at around 8.5 miles out to see the largest Bur Oak tree in Missouri, which is upwards of 350 years old.
Another trailside point of interest is Boathenge, a colorful display of boats jutting up from the ground on your left just before Cooper’s Landing Campgrounds, about 15 miles into the ride. Pop into Cooper’s Store (11505 Smith Hatchery Road, Columbia, cooperslanding.net) for a cold drink. Cooper’s has a great view, plenty of picnic tables and live music on summer weekends.
From there, head back to Rocheport after an idyllic adventure on Missouri’s best bike route.