Katy Trail State Park is a bike-and-hike trail that runs more than 230 miles from St. Charles west to Clinton, MO and covers almost the whole width of Missouri. You don’t have to be a long distance cyclist to enjoy the trail, because the 27-mile stretch between St. Charles and Augusta have multiple trail heads, making it incredibly accessible to short distance users.
This section of the Katy also runs through Missouri wine country with seven wineries (and two breweries) located close to the trail. A few more wineries are along Hwy. 94, the road that parallels the Katy.
The hard-packed gravel trail was converted from an abandoned railroad line, so it is natually flat with few curves. The trail winds along the Missiouri River taking visitors near river bluffs, woods and farm fields. Since the Katy is a state park it is well maintained with many rest stops along the way.
Two of the best little towns along the trail to stop at are Defiance and Augusta. The towns are only seven miles apart, which makes for an easy 14-mile round trip journey.
Defiance has several businesses that cater to Katy visitors and is also very popular will bikers of the motorized variety who tour Hwy. 94. Right off the trail is the Yellow Farmhouse Winery, a tavern and a restaurant. If you don’t have a bike of your own, check out Katy Bike Rental where you can get trail bikes, tandems, tag-a-longs child bikes and child trailers starting at $5 an hour or $20 for the whole day.
If the parking lot at Defiance is full, the next trail head at Matson is only a mile and a half further down the road. Matson has a huge parking area that’s rarely crowded, but only has a shaded pavilion and bathroom.
About halfway between Augusta and Defiance is Sugar Creek Winery, located on top of a steep hill from the trail. Sugar Creek offers complimentary wine tastings and you can purchase wine by the glass or bottle. Snacks are available from a self-service refrigerator case—or you can bring a picnic basket into the wine garden. Sugar Creek is very popular, so expect a crowd. It's also family-friendly and bottled soft drinks are available for purchase.
Augusta is home to the Augusta Brewing Company, Mount Pleasant Winery and several restaurants, shops and Bed & Breakfasts. Augusta Brewing Company is your best bet because it’s located mere steps from the trail. This full service microbrewery has a large beer garden perfect for a enjoying a frosty brew in the fresh air. Many trail riders stop here, so if the Katy leaves you a little dusty and sweaty, no one will notice. It’s also a family friendly establishment with both an excellent choice of local beers and a home brewed root beer. You can snack on a cheese plate or order burgers, brats and BBQ for lunch or something more sophisticated if you’re on the trail near dinner time.
The Katy is a linear trail, with no loops. This means you can easily customize the length of your ride by selecting which trail head you park at and how far out you ride. The trail has clear mile markers so if you don’t have an odometer you can judge your distance with ease. First time riders should take into account the gravel surface, which can be more tiring than riding on pavement.
Bike Katy Trail is an excellent website with an interactive trail map to help you plan your ride.