We planned to stop at other rail trails along the way from our start in New England, but our goal was Colorado. We had enjoyed several days in Pine Creek Gorge, PA where we pedaled perhaps half of the sixty-two mile trail. Travel always offers surprises, and our first “surprise” rail trail we had never heard of was the Katy Trail, a 240 mile linear state park that essentially travels across the width of Missouri.
We first thought to simply stop to check out a small portion of the trail on foot, which we did near sunset. We had many miles in front of us to reach Colorado, and did not want to get side tracked. But life on the road often presents surprises.
As we headed out after a night in an RV park in Columbia, Missouri, the air conditioning unit in our truck froze. With my sensitivity to heat, and still being in very early fall, we had to get help. Thankfully, we found a Toyota dealer within an exit or two of where we were, in Columbia, Missouri, Machens Toyota. The folks there understood our difficulties, and went over and beyond getting us back on the road with a functioning air condiitoner. They even had an outside plug to keep our camper air conditioner running while our truck got worked on!
By the time we were up and running again, it was late, so we stayed in Columbia overnight, at an RV park directly on the Katy trail, Coopers Landing. As a plus, after the anxiety of the day, our reward was a camping spot facing directly onto the Missouri River. We watched the sun set over the river, and woke to fog on the river. Breakfast by the water, watching the fog clear was a real treat.
We made time to explore more of the Katy Trail on our bike, since we were right there. As we pedaled along, we made lots of stops to look closer at the surroundings along the trail. It was clear this area is strongly affected by the Missouri River. I often note, “Rivers flood.” It’s their nature. We got lots of reminders of this along the trail, from the marker standing in a field, used to mark high water levels, to the area just off the trail that was curiously lacking in undergrowth. And of course, “boat henge” near where we camped was a must stop to grab a photo before we headed on our way!
Once we got packed back up and headed off, we saw many other signs pointing to other portions of the Katy trail. We did not make time to explore further, and I missed seeing the railroad tunnel just north of where we rode, in Rochport, Missouri, but we felt pretty satisfied that we had seen some wonderful sights along the way near the river. The bluffs next to the trail are truly spectacular, prompting us to stop again and again as we traveled.
In our journey with out little camper, we looked forward to spending time in the fall of 2021 finding Easy Walks for me, and enjoying riding our adaptive tandem on rail trails along the way. Our ultimate goal was to ride the rail trail in the Glenwood Canyon area of Colorado, along the Colorado river. My husband built our tandem bicycle with the dream of getting me to this area with soaring 2000 foot canyon walls above us. We had many miles to go to reach that goal.
As we headed west, across Missouri, then into Kansas, our air condiitoning worked great, and the truck itself worked much better. We felt real gratitude for the folks who went out of their way to help us get back on the road and on our way. You never know when traveling who you will meet. For the most part, we met such helpful folks each time we needed them. Travel offers uncertainties, for sure. We are still reflecting, and feeling grateful for the opportunities we had to explore. And indeed, we continued finding Easy Walks wherever we went. There are no guanantees, but may you be as blessed as we were. Happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.