interspersed with old fields, legumes and shrubs. This area is more than half forest. It also contains loess hills, cropland, old fields, grassland and prairie and features primitive camping, 17.5 acres of fishable ponds and good hunting access. From here you can also see a series of scenic limestone bluffs carved by the Missouri River, which flows 1.5 miles away.
Boonville to Clinton
At Boonville, the Katy Trail crosses the Missouri River and heads southwest, and the trail transitions from the flat bottomlands into the Osage Plains region. The terrain is slightly rolling, and is dotted with deep woods and river bottoms from Boonville to Pilot Grove. More open spaces start appearing, with more farmland and ranches along the trail.
Green Ridge to Clinton brings you into a new landscape, with miles of open prairie on either side of the Katy Trail being restored to tallgrass prairie. Due to lack of shade, locals call it the “gauntlet.” Prairie chickens and grassland birds make the prairie their home.
The 288-acre Bryson’s Hope Conservation Area, in Bryson, is being intensively managed for the recovery of the greater prairie chicken, an endangered species in Missouri. This area is managed by the Department of Conservation to provide optimum nesting and brood-rearing habitat not only for prairie chickens, but other grassland species, as well. Birdwatching and hunting are allowed at Bryson’s Hope Conservation Area.
It was an exciting moment when we arrived back at Columbia. We’d biked both ways, covering more than 450 miles. We were a little sore, but elated at what an adventure we’d had. We fell in love with the trail and “conservation cycling.” Each day we enjoyed ever-changing scenery, met new people and experienced a biker’s-eye view of Missouri’s wildlife.
Tricks of the Trail
Before setting out on the Katy, be sure to visit the Missouri State Parks Katy Trail website at katytrailstatepark.com for updates and advisories. We always carried extra food and two water bottles, since there can be extended distances between towns with no services. It’s important to stay flexible, set reasonable goals and carry some extra supplies, just in case. Be sure to plan any restaurant or lodging stays in advance. Many small towns have limited services on weekdays, or may be booked solid on weekends.
To prepare for our trip, we bought The Complete Katy Trail Guidebook by Brett Dufur, visit BikeKatyTrail.com, the Katy Trail State Park website and the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website at mdc.mo.gov. We also researched the landscapes we would we pass through and the plants and animals we might see.