Monday, August 2, 2010

Hiking the Katy Trail

We have been fortunate to travel to many exotic locales, but sometimes overlook the beauty in our own backyard. On our regular treks to Michigan, we drive along I-70 through Missouri. Western Missouri is not particularly picturesque. However, as we traverse the center of the state, we always note a lovely area around Rocheport. Not long ago, we discovered that it is a trail head on the Katy Trail, the largest rails-to-trails project in the United States. The Katy Trail is associated with Lewis and Clark's journeys, and stretches from just west of St. Louis to Clinton (near Kansas City). We spent a lovely weekend hiking along the trail. Photos and comments follow.

Rocheport is a charming small town, reminiscent of western Michigan lake towns. Its main claim to fame - aside from hosting the 1840 state Whig convention - is the trail. We snapped the above photo in the park near our B&B. Note the sign on the ladder that looks like one of the many climbing toys.

Just west of Rocheport is a fantastic old train tunnel, a remnant of the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railway (the Katy) that cut through central Missouri. The tunnel was clearly carved out with explosives and shored up by bricks and mortar.

After a short hike on our first day, we retired to the B&B's backyard hammock where Carter read us a book.

We began our second day early in the morning and planned to hike around 12 miles. In the end, we hiked 8.6 miles. Carter was especially a trooper on the long walk. He catalogued the wildlife that we encountered, tallying 168 frogs and toads (1 dead), a deer, a couple of squirrels, and many varieties of bird.

While walking along the trail eastward, the Missouri River (the "Big Muddy") was on our right, and the tall bluffs were on our left. We had spectacular views of both.

Close to Rocheport, a stream emerged from the rocks of a bluff. We cooled our hands and faces traveling in both directions. We really needed it coming back - it was a typical, steamy August day.

We found other surprises along the path. Somewhat hidden from view was this cave, with a brick entrance probably constructed by railway workers a century ago.

In the more distant past, native peoples drew petroglyphs high on the bluffs. A few remnants remain - you can see the red "swoosh" in the center-left of the photo below.

While the trail is popular, we had many quiet moments alone as a family. We took several breaks to rest, snack, and admire the scenery. We especially enjoyed the wildlife, some of which is captured below (including toad #1).

Our trip to the Katy Trail was a rousing success. We plan to return in the fall to see the trail when the leaves are turning.

1 comment:

JOE TODD said...

Found your blog when I did a google search for Nut Spas Day LOL.. Neat blog and photos. I'll soon be doing a post on a haunted old train tunnel on a rails/trails in Ohio