Kansas City is closer to an outdoors enthusiast destination than many might know of. The Katy Trail, spanning nearly 240 miles across Missouri, is a car-free oasis for cyclists and one of the nation’s longest rails-to-trails paths.
Throughout these seemingly endless Missouri miles, cyclists are treated to towering river bluffs, winding paths beneath tree canopies, and the same wide open views under big midwestern skies that Lewis & Clark experienced on their westward expansion. Aside from the scenery, you’ll encounter countless towns offering local restaurants, B&Bs, coffee shops and breweries to explore.
As we head into one of the best seasons of the year across the midwest, this is the perfect time to tune-up the bike and set out on the trail. Whether you want to ride a day or check off hundreds of miles, we’ve got a game plan for you to leave the car in the garage, head outside, and take in as many wonderful local gems along the trail as possible along your journey.
We’ve created a Yelp Collection for you here featuring all the spots mentioned, as well as a few extras along the way to help you plan your cycling adventure!
Getting Started: Union Station — Sedalia
Getting to the trail itself is anywhere from an hour and a half to two hour drive from KC, but if you want to embrace car-free bikepacking we recommend making a reservation with Amtrak from Kansas City to Sedalia, MO on the Missouri River Runner. For only $10 per bike, you can easily stow your bike in the train cabin.
Pro-tip: Make your reservations early as each train can only hold four bicycles per trip!
Kick off your trip by heading downtown to the iconic Union Station, grab a breakfast inside Harvey’s and carb-up for the ride while you wait for the Missouri River Runner to escort you to the trail in Sedalia, MO.
Day 1: Sedalia — Boonville — Rocheport
For day one, a 50 mile ride seems just right, and you’re sure to enjoy the gradual shift in scenery as you approach the mighty Missouri River. But first, coffee! Just a half mile from the Sedalia Amtrak station through the historic downtown Sedalia, lies the five-star rated Ozark Coffee Company and Roasterie. Not only is the coffee here impressive, it’ll give you the boost you need for your first day in the saddle. Need some pie to go with that coffee? Kehde’s BBQ is a five-star spot located inside an old train car and home to the best slices of pie around.
As you make your way onto the Katy Trail you’ll pass by the Katy Depot which serves as a museum for the trail, as well as guiding you through the history of the area. You’ll also find souvenirs, a friendly and helpful staff, and a local bike shop as part of this stop.
Heading into Boonville, you’ll meet up with the river which means there’s almost no elevation change from here on out. That’s worthy of a celebratory pitstop at the Boonville Visitors Center along the trail, a stop at the historic Hotel Frederick, or Yelp your way to a great meal before finishing up your first day.
As soon as you roll into Rocheport, MO, one thing will become clear: You’ll want to spend as much time as you can here. In fact, many Katy Trail riders choose to base their whole trip around this charming river town with some of the best scenery along the trail, including the Rocheport Tunnel. Close out your day with drinks and a nice dinner at Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro (or snacks and drinks at their A-Frame) and stay in the Katy Trail B&B Boxcar, a uniquely refurbished train car. Before heading out the next day, be sure to swing into Meriweather Cafe and Bike Shop for the best trailside breakfast.
Day 2: Rocheport — Jeff City — Hermann
By Day 2, all those meals will really start to pay off and your journey will carry you right along the river, through the state capitol, and into another charming river town to close it out. Day 2 will cover some serious ground of around 75 miles, but don’t worry, this day is full of fun pit-stops and all the food you can handle.
If you’re on the bike all day, you might as well eat as much as you can, right? Chim’s Thai Kitchen at Cooper’s Landing, a popular campsite and general store, is a great spot to take a breather and enjoy the scenery. This little Thai spot has five-stars on Yelp, and if you’re lucky, Cooper’s Landing will have live music and open picnic tables waiting for you on the river.
The Katy Trail then brings you alongside the state capitol, Jefferson City. Central Dairy ice cream shop and The Grand Cafe are some Yelp recommendations if you’d like to stop off and visit their downtown. Also of note, Amtrak has a stop in Jefferson City in case this feels like a natural stopping point to call it a trip and head back to KC.
Pro-Tip: Bookmark Cycle Depot or Red Wheel Bike Shop in case your bike needs any fine tuning along the way
Following Jefferson City, you’re going to find yourself really soaking in nature, occasionally coming upon trailheads to rest up.
The scenery opens up as you wind through the woods, skirt the river, and encounter many picturesque stops, bridges, and historical markers.
The final push on Day 2 will be worth it as you arrive in Hermann, MO, another beautiful river town with German heritage; breweries, B&Bs, and an array of restaurants await. There is also a wonderful local bike shop should you need it, Bike Hermann. The train passes through here as well, offering service back into Kansas City with a four hour trip.
We recommend booking a charming B&B, Joey’s Birdhouse, that is positioned perfectly on the trail in the neighboring town of McKittrick. Joey’s includes private lodging, a large garden bursting with produce, and the best part: a gigantic breakfast with locally-sourced ingredients awaiting you when you wake up. This is the kind of spot that’ll turn a good trip into a great one.
Day 3: McKittrick — Augusta — St. Charles
You’ve just about made it! Day 3 includes a 64 mile jaunt that will take you through beautiful stretches of the trail and give you the amazing satisfaction of making it all the way to the outskirts of St. Louis.
About 20 miles into Day 3, you’ll come across a little slice of history along the trail, Peers Store. If you pass through on a weekend, pop in for bluegrass music on the front porch, grab some snacks and read about the adventurers who have come before you along the trail.
A local brewery and biergarten sitting on the trail? Yep, Augusta Brew Haus is a spot you must check out. Brews, gastropub fare, ice cream sundaes, and even a resident pup named Hopps will have you wanting to setup camp right here.
When you arrive in St. Charles, MO, you’ll come across the figurative finish line in the best way imaginable; the trail melds with Frontier Park with a big view of the Missouri River, and an iconic statue of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and their trusted canine companion, Seaman.
Your Yelp app will be your friend here as there are too many wonderful places to recommend throughout St. Charles, but when in St. Louis, do as the locals do and eat St. Louis pizza! Tony’s on Main Street is a great option for all things Italian, capped off with ice cream from Kilwin’s as you walk the beautiful Main Street if you have room. Pro-Tip: You will!
St. Charles is well-known for their Bed & Breakfasts which will be a welcome sight for weary riders.
Bike Stop Cafe is the perfect cap to a Katy Trail trip with great breakfast and coffee, plus you have the option to book a shuttle to the nearest Amtrak station in Kirkwood, MO to catch a train back to Union Station.
BONUS Day 4: St. Charles — Washington
If you’ve ridden nearly the entirety of the Katy Trail, you’ll know how hard it is to leave it behind, especially in the fall. Winter will be here before you know it. Those emails can wait. We’ve included a bonus day for those who want to skip the shuttle and steal an extra autumn day on the Katy.
What will feel like a recovery day, this bonus Day 4 will have you double back on the Katy and head west towards Washington, MO, about 40 miles from St. Charles to catch your train.
With the trail behind you and the trip wrapping up, you’ll want to unwind and recount your bike trip over a cup of coffee at The Washington Coffee Shop, or kick back on the big patio at Marquart’s Landing directly across from the train station with a beer (or three). You’ve earned it!
*Want to showcase your journey along the trail? Follow us @YelpKC on Instagram and tag us in your photos, pen Yelp reviews for your discoveries, and tweet to us anytime @YelpKC to connect, ask questions, or share spots we might’ve missed!
Be sure to utilize our Katy Trail Local Spots Yelp Collection to keep all these spots in one easy to access spot.
Visit the Missouri State Parks website and Facebook page to stay up to date on trail conditions and potential closures