Last weekend I took a three-day bike trip down the Katy Trail, accompanied by friend and ever-faithful photographic subject, Todd. The saddle soreness and heavy loads were well worth the time spent in the outdoors, photographing, exploring and visiting with friends. The Katy Trail is built on an old rail-bed of the MKT Railroad (Missouri-Kansas-Texas). Get it? MKT… Katy? The completed trail was opened as recently as 1996.
The idea was to take this trip at the “peak” of fall color, but the forest decided to take it slow this year, and so green still prevailed. Nonetheless, there was some lovely foliage. Above left, a ladybug (apparently not allergic) rests on a poison ivy leaf, while at right, cottonwood leaves rest on a bridge on the trail.
From Boonville to St. Charles (2/3 of the trail), the Katy follows the Missouri River. Unfortunately though, this doesn’t mean the river is always visible from the trail. Much of the time it winds away to the other side of the flood plain opposite the bluffs, which the Katy Trail hugs so closely. But it is always pleasant when you do get a view that lets you look down the length of the Big Muddy. If I was here a couple months ago, I could have watched the kayaks and canoes race by: MR 340.
Many times on this trip as I got into my groove of pedaling, I would forget my surroundings. Then suddenly I would glance up and Bam! there were the tall white bluffs looming over us. At varying heights along the river, the limestone cliffs are always stunning, especially now as they serve as a backdrop to the changing leaves. Sometimes you can even spot a few small caves. So whenever you get around to venturing down the Katy Trail, don’t forget to look up.
The Katy Trail offers a beautiful cross-section of Missouri, its land and its culture. Any Missouri resident who walks, runs, or bicycles part or all of the Katy will return with a fortified pride in their state. It should be promoted and protected with great care. But it should also be kept from over-development, which would only spoil its charm and originality. It is not a highway, some path just to get from point A to point B. It is Katy Trail State Park, a destination in and of itself.