Bicycling – Common Safety Tips For Riding the Lengthy Missouri Katy Rail

Here are seven safety tips for riding the Katy between its 238-mile endpoints, Clinton (west) and Machens (east), MO.

1. Protective head covering . Bicyclists can fall anytime on this kind of trail from soft spots, debris, and distractions.

2. Road traffic at intersections . Bicyclists do not have the right of way where the trail crosses farms roads, back roads, and state routes. Most of these crossings are partially gated on both sides of the road. Narrow gate openings mean busy intersections.

3. Insects, occasional snakes, and animals . Poison ivy, ticks, mosquitoes, and infrequent poisonous spiders or snakes exist along the entire trail corridor. Certain snakes, most of them harmless, lay on the trail motoring during varying hours of the day.

An accidental running over of a poisonous copperhead or timber rattler can be hazardous. The instant recoil from these animals could leave the rider bitten on the ankle or leg as the front wheel passes over it. Also, other animals might not see or hear the rider coming, causing last second avoidance.

4. Repellent or self-protection device . No large wild carnivorous animals exist on the trail. Bobcats, which are fairly small, will avoid humans as do the coyotes, foxes, and deer. However, an occasional stray barking dog or two can be scary at times; otherwise, most of them are friendly and harmless. Also, a stray cow might show up on the trail now and then. An air horn is helpful in these situations.

Additionally, crime is nonexistent on the trail, except for the rare vandalism of remotely parked cars. Although many females have ridden it solo, carrying a protective device (eg, pepper spray) is a good safety practice.

5. Falling branches or rocks . Tree branches from the trail canopies seldom fall on their own because they are trimmed by the rangers stations. But they will fall or weakened during high winds and storms. Most rocks, if and when they fall from the high bluffs between Rocheport and Matson, will land at the inner edge of the trail.

6. High or soft shoulders . The shoulders on the high-side sections of the trail, especially the high ones next to the Missouri River on its eastern two-thirds, are often soft. This condition can lead to a sudden slide or steep embankment tumble.

7. Edge of trail proper . A good rule-of-thumb is to stay on or near the middle of the limestone trail itself as much as possible, except at theaved trailheads or in the populated public areas near the trail. Flat-tire causing thorns and sharp twigs lie there.

Also, entering the rugged remote right-of-ways on each side of the trail corridor, or approaching the turbulent Missouri River can be very dangerous. It means encountering poisonous spiders, scorpions, and snakes, ticks, hornets, chiggers, mosquitoes galore, bats, poison ivy / oak, thorns, spills, falling down steep inclines onto sharp rocks, potential drowning, not to mention being caught trespassing on private property.

In short, use the restrooms at the trailheads or public places as much as possible.

Communities and trailheads having accessible restrooms in season (west to east).

  • Clinton (trailhead)
  • Calhoun (gas station w / convenience store, trailhead at northern end behind hedgerow)
  • Windsor (trailhead, convenience store, restaurant)
  • Green Ridge (trailhead, convenience store, bar-grill-cafe if open)
  • Sedalia (large trailhead)
  • Clifton City (trailhead)
  • Pilot Grove (trailhead, convenience store)
  • Boonville (trailhead, museum, bike shop, casino)
  • New Franklin (trailhead)
  • Rocheport (trailhead, park-side cafe w / bike shop)
  • Huntsdale (nearby country store w / campground)
  • McBaine (trailhead, bar-grill when open)
  • Easly (nearby county store w / campground)
  • Wilton (country store)
  • Hartsburg (trailhead, hotel, cafe, bar-grill)
  • Claysville (weekend cafe)
  • North Jefferson (trailhead)
  • Tebbetts (trailhead, Turner-KT hostel)
  • Mokane (trailhead, daytime market, bar-grill)
  • Steedman (bar-grill / general store when open)
  • Portland (trailhead, park-side campground, bar-grill when open)
  • Bluffton (bike-friendly B & B, park-side campground)
  • Rhineland (park-side cafe)
  • McKittrick (trailhead, convenience store 1/2-mile south on Route 19)
  • Treloar (trailhead, bar-grill when open)
  • Peers (park-side country store)
  • Marthasville (trailhead, gas station, bar-grill 1/2-mile south on Route 94)
  • Dutzow (trailhead, park-side cafe)
  • Augusta (trailhead, winery, cafe)
  • Matson (trailhead)
  • Defiance (park-side bike shop, bar-grills when open)
  • Weldon Spring (trailhead)
  • Greens Bottom (trailhead across road)
  • St Charles (trailhead, depot store, small park w / facilities)
  • Machhens (trailhead)

To learn more about Katy-Trail safely and etiquette, see the following websites.