The Katy: America’s Premier Rail Trail

Good fortune greeted us on Missouri’s Katy Trail today. After we rode our hybrids on the prettiest, most shaded section from Rocheport to McBaine and back, Katy granted us an exclusive interview.

Question: How did you get your name?
Katy: I wish it was more romantic, but I am named after the stock exchange symbol of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad. It was KT. Hope you like it!

Q: How long are you?

A: 240 miles. I am the longest hiking, biking and equestrian trail in the United States.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a trail?
A: Fame. People from all over the world come to see me. It all started when I was inducted into the Rail Trail Hall of Fame.

Q: How can people meet you?

A: Easy. I almost stretch across the entire state. I start in Machens and go west to Clinton. But some people first see me in Clinton. People also meet me at 26 trailheads.

Q: Could I share a compliment?

A: Why sure.

Q: You may be mostly compact rock, but you are almost as smooth as pavement.

A: Aw, thanks. Actually, I hear that even from riders with road bicycles. I think wider tires work better, though.

Katy: May I ask you a question?

Go right ahead.

Katy: What are your favorite things about me?

Let me think; there are so many. You are mostly level and there are great views of the Missouri River. You pass through places with food and rooms if I want to spend the night. I even passed a beer garden today.

Katy: Stop! You’re making me thirsty!

Previous rail-trail posts, with photos by Sue (as always):

Make Tracks on the Best Rail Trails in America. (Review of guidebook)

The Ohio Rail Trail: What a Ride!

Ohio Rail Trail: What a Bike Ride!


The Rail Trail Hall of Fame book (click for earlier review) led us to a campground near Lebanon, Ohio, where we parked our trailer on May 24 and rode our bikes on another of the USA’s top 33 rail trails.

The Little Miami Scenic Trail was our favorite of our cross-country journey. The fourth-longest paved trail in the country, it runs 78 miles from Cincinnati to Springfield, almost entirely in the shade and near-level as it follows the Little Miami River. We started in Morrow and rode north to Caesar Creek State Park.

The multi-use path exudes tranquility, especially on weekdays. It travels through several state parks, charming villages and places to pause for cool or hot drinks. It is part of a 340-mile network of paved trails that makes Ohio a great state to explore on two wheels or on two feet.

The Little Miami is part of the North Country Trail (click for earlier post), the nation’s longest hiking path, which we had walked in Wisconsin.

In case you are wondering, we are riding the same Giant steel-frame hybrid bikes that Sue’s parents rode in Europe and around America. They are sturdy and reliable, but weigh 40 pounds, which adds to the work load a bit.

We have used the TrailLink and AllTrails apps throughout our trip for hiking and biking guidance.

Make Tracks on the Best Rail Trails in America

Begin the bicycle journey of a lifetime (or perhaps several lifetimes) on the rail trails of America, all 24,000 miles of them. If that sounds beyond your pedaling endurance, a book, the Rail Trail Hall of Fame, will show you the 33 premier paths spread across the country.

Setting off from our campsite at Rafter J Bar Ranch in South Dakota’s Black Hills earlier in May, we rode south on the 109-mile George S Mickelson path that begins in Deadwood and ends in Edgemont. First, Sue deposited our payments of $4 each per day at the self-pay station, which offered trail brochures, including an elevation chart.

It was all uphill from there. Until our turnaround point, that is. After six miles of battling the crushed rock surface rutted with tire tracks and horse-hoof divots, we ran out of power, stopping for lunch at a shady bench on our downhill return.

It was a beautiful trail, but we prefer smoother, flatter surfaces, and our second trail from the book was perfect. Beginning in the charming village of Nisswa, Minnesota, we pedaled north on the 119-mile Paul Bunyan State Trail. Paved, mostly flat, with weather to match the beauty of several of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. We turned around after 11 enjoyable miles, pausing for lunch at a trailside park in the inviting village of Pequot Lakes.

The guidebook includes maps, directions, and a summary of each trail. If the book is not enough for you, there is a TrailLink App and so much more available online. AllTrails also has biking information on some of its hiking trails.

Lifetimes of rail-trail bicycling await.

Bicycle Odyssey: Feel Adventure Up Close

For me, life without adventure is not life at all.
As I near my 70th year, I seek even more exhilarating experiences, whether backpacking the long-distance trails of Europe or exploring the trails and bikeways of the USA while traveling in a small travel trailer.

When I can’t get out there, I pursue adventure through reading about others’ experiences. Bicycle Odyssey took me on the trip of a lifetime.
Consider what author Carla Fountain and her husband Dermot accomplished in a year. Planes, trains and buses transported them and their bicycles to the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Kenya, Uganda, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Bali, and many more places. They rode in weather and situations that would keep most of us indoors.

The American couple quit their teaching jobs so they could spend the night in a tent while hippos shook the ground around them. They snorkeled off the Kenyan coast. They survived the dangerous roads of India, where truck drivers honked rather than move over. They confronted their fears with courage.

Fountain uses her journal to recreate the 1991 journey and her story comes from her heart. Her account feels fresh, brought to life through recreated conversations and fascinating details about cultural experiences. Her adventure causes Fountain to re-evaluate her life, including her marriage. She is introspective in a relatable way.

As much as I feel compelled to tackle risky experiences, I doubt I will come close to an adventure like Fountain’s. However, her story inspires me to stretch the boundaries of my life.