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Hiking The KATY Trail and Rocheport MO

 Copyright 1997,  by Bob Soetebier



     While I'm no fan of the KATY Trail for bicycling (fine grit --

wet or dry -- gets all over your bicycle's moving components, which is

definitely not good for it!...,) I *do* recommend it for

walking/hiking.


     If you get the chance, be sure to check out the portion of the

KATY trail from the trailhead at Rocheport, MO. Rocheport is just a

few miles west of Columbia, MO.  You get there by exiting I-70 just

before it crosses the Missouri R. on Hwy. BB.  (There is a motel at

this exit on the n.e. corner of I-70 and Hwy. BB.)


     Go n. on Hwy. BB for about 2 miles and downhill into the small

town of Rocheport, passing the Old School House Bed & Breakfast (large

building) on your right.  When you get to the "T"-intersection at

Hwy. 240, turn right.  Either just before, or just after, the four-way

stop sign at the end of the block by the Post Office and City Hall,

park your car.


     Walk forward down the street to the end of the next block.

That's where the KATY Trail crosses the street.  Turn right on the

KATY Trail and you can see the neat old railroad tunnel that the trail

passes through.  It's only about 1/4-mile away.


     Just as you approach the tunnel on the trail, you'll cross a

footbridge over a tributary of the Missouri R.  Be sure to walk all

the way through the tunnel to see the other end with its massive stone

block facade.  You should also walk at least another 1/4-mile along to

get a feel of this side of the trail.


     Back at your car, drive forward, and turn left parallel to the

KATY trail (following the KATY Trail Parking signs.)  You'll go a

couple of blocks for another 1/4-mile or more, crossing a street that

is well-used by river-sand quarrying trucks.  On you left will be the

Rocheport KATY Trail bicycle "livery" and restaurant/snack bar where

they rent bicycles.


     The KATY Trailhead parking lot is just about 50- to 75-yards

beyond this forward and to your right, after the old train depot.

(Port-o-John toilets, including a wide wheelchair-accessible one,

located at the trailhead parking lot.)  There is a trailhead map

display, and KATY Trail maps/brochures right at the trail entrance

here.


     If you insist upon riding a bicycle on the KATY Trail (and *I* am

most definitely NOT recommending that you do so!...), then do yourself

a favor and rent one of the "beater" bikes available at the Trailside

Cafe.  [Take a look at those recently ridden bikes on the trail, and

you'll see just one of the many reasons why *I* will not ride my

bicycle "off-road" on such trails/paths!]  In any case, they have

18-speed bicycles, with fairly low gearing (for that greater rolling

resistance surface of the trail, *and* those headwinds on the flats.)

The bikes are generally equipped with padded saddles, too... (but, you

might want to bring your own saddle pad if you plan on riding more

than 5 miles.)


     The Trailside Cafe & Bike Rental is open on nice weekends during

the "off season", but you can generally count on them to be open

during nice weather 7-days/week (8:30am-dusk, M-F; 7am-dusk, Sat/Sun.)

They rent the 18-speed bikes for min. $6.00/2-hr, or $10/day.  They

rent 5- and 10-speed tandem [bicycle-built-for-two] for $10/hr, and

$25/day.  They have single-speed tandems for rent for $5/hr. and

$18/day. --- They also have Burley bicycle trailers for rent (I

beleive $6/2-hr and $10/day) that automatically come with a

*required*-use childrens' free "loaner" bicycle helmet.  (You should

wear a helmet, too!)  Their open times stated above are for May 1 thru

Oct. 31. --- If you want to give them a call for reservations:  (Bus.)

314-698-2702 and (Home) 314-445-6361.


     In addition to the walk to the trail tunnel, be sure to go the

opposite direction toward McBaine from the trailhead along the

Missouri River Bluffs.  We walked for three miles (one-way) below the

bluffs and along the river.  This took us a ways past and below the

I-70 bridge that crosses over the trail and the Missouri R.  Along the

way, be sure and stop at the KATY Spring [look up on the bluff itself

for the old inscribed "MKT" sign above the non-drinking water spring]

which is across from the first parkbench at the edge of the trail.


     Speaking of benches, they are very comfortable as they are made

out of recycled plastic.  Do be *very* careful, though, with your self

(and, especially, children of any age) around these benches.  They are

very close (within 3 feet) to the vertical banks of the Missouri R.

edge.  The surface around and in front of the benches, to the edge of

the bank, is the same loosely packed limestone chat/screenings

material used on the contiguous trail surface.


     I slipped when part of the trail surface gave way as I got up

from the one bench and almost fell into the river!  If anynone fell

into the river, there would be no hope of getting them any help in

that fast-moving water from those steep vertical banks!


     Also, keep an eye out for an old built-into-the-bluff overhang

stone walled-in and old door cellar (maybe used by an oldtime

Moonshiner?) about half-way to the MO R. bridge.  Also, if you walk

even further along the trail toward McBaine, you'll be able to see

Boone's Cave and Lewis & Clark Cave, too.


     We saw three snakes along our hike on the trail.  One was a

3-foot long harmless black snake on the bluffside edge of the trail.

One was a baby black ringneck snake, and the other was a baby

copperhead.  (Both of the baby snakes were alive and curled up in the

middle of the trail sunning themsleves.)


     We also saw a red fox, a fat red squirrel and a hawk carring a

long snake in its mouth.  There was also a goose with gosslings in a

nest on the edge of the bluff about half-way up.  And, of course, we

saw many other birds, and an abundance of colorful flower and tree

blossoms.


     Since we trekked on a Friday, we only saw four other people on

the trail.  If you go on a weekend (and maybe even a summer weekday

when school's out) do expect crowds of folks on the trail, though.

     Again, my advice is to do the trail mid-week if at all possible,

and on foot.  If you insist on riding a bicycle on the trail, then

rent one of the trail-dust/grit-covered ones from the Trailside Cafe

and save your bicycle's moving components from the accelerated wear

and tear!             


[NOTE:  Underlined items in trip account link to additional related info about the points of interest.]