20 Commonly Asked Trail Questions
1. Who runs this park?
The Katy Trail State Park is operated by the Department of Natural
Resources, which also operates Missouri's 80 other state parks and
2. Is the trail hilly?
On the contrary. This site was selected by the railroad for its
flatness. Trail grades seldom reach more than 5 percent.
3. Where's the bathroom?
Trailheads have bathrooms-from port-a-potties to permanent facilities.
4. How many miles will I average in an hour?
Walkers average 1-3 miles an hour. Cyclists 5-20 miles an hour.
5. May I camp anywhere along the trail?
No. Camping is allowed only in privately operated campgrounds. See
the guidebook's Campers' Notes and Campground Quick Reference Guide for
6. Should we take our kids?
Definitely! Many trailside bike shops even rent bike trailers for
7. Is trailside medical assistance available?
Medical assistance would come from the nearest town. To assure fast
response time, note the nearest mile marker or geographic landmark before
going for help.
8. What is the trail surface like?
The trail is covered with a fine crushed limestone surface. This rock
packs down almost like pavement. Chat can be as hard and smooth as
pavement when dry, but be prepared for wash-outs after heavy rains. Beware
of soft shoulders.
9. What happened to the old tracks?
The Katy railroad sold the salvage rights to an independent company
that came in and removed the iron rails and wooden ties.
10. What's the best time to see wildlife along the trail?
The best time to spot wildlife is at dawn or at dusk. You may see
Red-tailed Hawks soaring above you and American Bald Eagles in the winter.
(Missouri has more eagles in the winter than any other state.) Migratory
birds, including Great Blue Herons, Sandpipers, Canada Geese and Belted
Kingfishers are also common.
If you want to learn about nature along the trail, check out Pebble
Publishing's River Valley Companion Nature Guide. This illustrated guide
identifies commonly seen trees, wildflowers, leaves, birds, wildlife,
cloud formations, fossils, footprints, nasty stuff, insects and more. See
the back of this book for more info.
11. Why are the towns so perfectly spaced at 10-15 mile intervals?
While the railroad was a dependable way to get products to larger
markets around the nation, local travel was still primitive and restricted
to a few miles. Towns were spaced every ten miles to make the railroad
accessible for farmers hauling their products to market.
12. It's raining again. What's the next best thing to riding the
Surf up the Missouri and visit the Interactive Katy Trail online, where
it never rains! For "cyberhikers" around the world! See the back
of the book for more info, or visit
13. I'd like to plan a trip along the trail, but I still have so
See the Bikers Bulletin Board at the back of the book for more
trip-planning suggestions. You can also receive a free color brochure on
the Katy Trail from the Department of Natural Resources.
14. What kind of bike should I bring to ride?
Most trail riders use mountain bikes for their relatively upright
riding position. Many bikers also use ten-speed-style road bikes. Hybrids,
which are a cross between mountain bikes and ten-speeds, are also very
well suited for the trail. Look throughout the book for additional Bikers
15. I'd like to ride the trail but don't own a bike or can't get it
to the trail.
No sweat! There are bike rentals available up and down the trail in
many different towns. Mountain bikes, tandems and toddler trailers are
among the choices, and prices generally range from $5-10 an hour to $15-20
for the day.
16. What's the best time of year to come?
Spring and fall are by far the most popular seasons for extended trips
along the Katy. Spring bathes the trail in dazzling greens and the trail
is showered with flowering dogwoods and redbuds. Fall is also a favorite
season, when sugar maple, sumacs and bittersweets explode in hues of
orange and red.
Late March begins the peak time for trail enjoyment and continues on
through November. Summers are usually warm and humid. A typical July day,
during the hottest month, may be around 60 degrees at sunrise and 85
degrees by noon.
17. How safe is the trail?
There are Katy Trail State Park rangers patrolling the Katy Trail. I've
never heard of any safety problems along the trail, and given the trail's
rural Missouri setting, I don't expect to hear any stories of problems any
18. Do I need to bring a bike lock?
At most trailside stops, your bike should be within sight and fine.
I've ridden the trail many times and couldn't even tell you where my lock
is at. I've never felt a need for one. At night, I ask the campground or
hotel to lock my bike up and that frees me from carrying a bulky lock with
me. Obviously, use your own discretion for each situation.
19. What will I probably forget to bring and regret for the rest of
Shades, sunscreen and long-sleeved shirts to screen you from the direct
summer sun. Mosquito repellant or Avon's Skin-So-Soft is also helpful.
20. OK, what will I really regret for the rest of the trip?
Not having a more padded bike seat. These can be purchased at various
trailside bike shops. Or, wrap your extra tire tube around your seat and
mildly inflate it for a much more cushy ride. It works!