The Longest “Rails-to-Trail” Project in US Is a Perfect Summer Adventure

This article is part of our daily Regional Highlights series which features unique businesses, attractions and events around the South (outside of Georgia.)

The Katy Trail is a 237 mile trail stretching across most of the state of Missouri.  Over half the trail follows Lewis and Clark’s path up the Missouri River, where you can bike beneath towering river bluffs and through peaceful farmland and the small-town Midwest.

The Longest “Rails-to-Trail” Project in US Is a Perfect Summer Adventure
Courtesy of Missouri

The trail is officially a State Park. It’s built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and runs between Clinton and Machens with 26 trailheads and four fully restored railroad depots along the way. 

The trail is perfect for for hiking, running, or biking.  Bike shops at several points along the trail provide a place to air up your tires and handle other maintenance issues. Several shops offer bike rentals.

Additionally, horseback riding is allowed on two segments of the trail: Sedalia to Clinton (about 34 miles) and Tebbetts to Portland (about 15 miles.)

The Longest “Rails-to-Trail” Project in US Is a Perfect Summer Adventure
Courtesy of Missouri

Every 10 to 15 miles, the railroad path enters the heart of a small town. You can grab a bite or rest up in one of the quaint B&Bs, Inns or hotels you’ll find in Missouri.

You’ll also find a number of historic stops worth the effort:

  • Historic St. Charles, located on the eastern edge of the trail, marks the beginning of Lewis and Clark’s expedition west. 
  • Take a short detour off the trail outside the town of Defiance to visit The Historic Daniel Boone Home. 
  • At the Katy Depot in Sedalia, explore the history of the MKT Railroad and how the Katy Trail came into existence. 

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The Longest “Rails-to-Trail” Project in US Is a Perfect Summer Adventure