Exploring Katy Trail in Missouri was something that we always looked forward to, as many travelogues and magazine, waxed eloquence on the beauty of this place. When we sought out information, on the internet, we could not find any site, that gave us consolidated information on the facilities, views, points of interests etc. This blog, is an effort towards just that – A write up on the beauty of the Katy Trail, as seen through my eyes….
Katy Trail State Park is built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad (better known as the Katy). When the railroad decided to cease operation on its route, it presented the chance to create an extraordinary recreational opportunity — a long-distance hiking and bicycling trail that would run almost 200 miles across the state. This was a completely ingenious idea as it presented itself as a milestone in hiking and bicycling for many nature enthusiasts. As this corridor, runs all along the banks of the River Missouri, its very scenic during all the seasons of the year. In summer, the trail bursts with wildflowers and the trees are filled with ripe fruits and leaves and its really a pleasure to walk or cycle along the trail. The visitors to this area, have many options to explore the beauty along the trail. One can drive up to Defiance, Missouri and rent bicycles at Katy Bike Rental. The cycles are well maintained and parents have options of child-carts and tag-a-longs for the kids. Thee are also kids bicycles which enables a full outing for the entire family. The tag-a-longs are closed so the child is protected from the sun and wind.
The trail allows users to travel through some of the most scenic areas of the state. The majority of the trail closely follows the route of the Missouri River so hikers and bicyclists often find themselves with the river on one side and towering bluffs on the other. The trail travels through many types of landscapes including dense forests, wetlands, deep valleys, remnant prairies, open pastureland and gently rolling farm fields. In the spring, the trail is brightened with flowering dogwood and redbud, while the fall is colored with the rich reds and oranges of sugar maple, sumac and bittersweet. The summers are of course very beautiful where one can see all the forest areas in full bloom. You could also see scurrying bunnies and little baby turtles, walking along the trail, at their own pace. The Klondike State Park spread across 250 acres, between the cities of Defiance and Augusta, on the historic highway 94, is a place to be visited on its own. Once a site for silica sand quarry, now offers trail enthusiasts many options for family get-togethers, with a scenic lake, picnics, parks, tent camping, trekking, trails and play areas.
Another of my favourite spots along the Katy Trail is “My Grandpa`s Farm”. Its a small quaint farm, originally owned by the Daniel Boone run by a couple, who live there. The farm runs all through spring from the 15`th of March up until Thanksgiving. In spring and summer, the farm supplies refreshments like” Sno-cones” – crushed ice flavoured with berry, lemon syrup to the parched bicyclists. They also serve quaint lunches and dinners. They grow organic tomatoes, pears, apples, raspberries, peaches and lemons. They also raise ponies, horses, chickens and hens and get fresh eggs from them.
They make Apple Butter, peach Butter and strawberry and raspberry preserves, which are bottled and sold at their lovely little store. The salas, made from the organic home grown tomatoes, are extremely tasty and also available to buy. A drive to Augusta, is never complete without a visit to “My grandpa`s Farm”, and we never miss the home made delicious hash browns served with Meduim Salsa.
Augusta also comes under the Missouri Wine Country, so the Highway 94 is filled with so many quaint lovely wine tasting outlets. A fall drive along this lovely highway, is a feast for the eyes, as one ambles across miles and miles of plains and hills dotted with trees, all coloured with fall foliage. On a drive along this wine country, during fall, you can see many grape vineyards, laden with bunches of juicy heavy grapes, ready to be picked, sorted and made in to wines. One wonders at the many lovely hues of orange, yelllow, amber and red, in a fall drive on this scenic road.
Fall, again is the month of apple picking, so farms along this trail, get busy with this season. The Centennial farms, where we visitd for instance, claimed to grow 24 varieties of apples which ripen through August to September and get ready to be picked in fall. The farm also grows summer vegetables like squash, acorn, sweet potatoes and make them available for sale. Its also a place for family fun, during October, as they offer pumpkin mazes, hay ride, tractors etc for children and adults. There are a variety of nurseries along this region, which grow a multitude of flowers and plants like roses, hibiscus, jasmines, sunflowers, chrysanthemums etc. The Wine Country Gardens offer wine tasting, a lovely nursery and outdoor dining overlooking the lovely stretch of plains, filled with vineyards, trees and offering an uninterrupted view of the spectacular highway and beyond.
The Katy trail is a hitherto unexplored territory for me, in my one and a half year stint in Missouri, but every trip to Defiance and Augusta, bring with it, new experiences and newer insights to this scenic part of the state. We have made it a point to visit this place, as much as we can, as it brings so many opportunities of experiencing nature and being one with it. This region is almost beautiful. no matter what the season….Little did Lewis and Clark realise that their expedition opened the doors for so many more….today and everyday …