This was our second day-long bike ride on the Katy Trail only a week apart. We went last weekend and decided to return this weekend to try to make at least 50 miles so that I could scratch this off my bucket list! Our total length was slightly over 50 miles.
We started at the Rocheport trailhead and headed east to Hartsburg. Our destination in Hartsburg was to have lunch at Doty’s diner and then return back west to Rocheport.
We started out around 9:30 in the morning. It had rained the night before and some that morning. It was a little overcast to start, slightly, muggy, but the temperature was comfortable around 80 degrees (that’s awesome for August in Missouri).
Unloaded our bikes, packed up our bags, made sure our bottles were filled and our GPS apps running and off we went toward Hartsburg. Generally around Rocheport is one of the prettier parts of the Katy Trail. Heading east out of Rocheport, you’ll follow the Missouri River off and on. Its quite an amazing sight. We made fairly good time (although not as good as most on the trail). I am by no means fast at riding my bike – probably slow on most standards, but Mike is very patient and most of the time he is coasting while I am always pedaling.
We averaged about 7 miles per hour. The trail is mostly crushed gravel and in pretty good shape leaving Rocheport. To the right, you’ll have the river and to the left will be an amazing cliff bluff running alongside you for quite some time with dense woods surrounding. I would imagine that once the leaves are off the trees, the bluffs are an amazing sight. There are quite a few caves in the cliffs and at times, they will stretch straight up in the air as far as you can see.
There are several benches along the trail to sit and enjoy the river. You’ll also pass a trail leading up to a winery as well as a trail at Eagle Bluffs conservation area (where I hear has amazing views). We had planned on heading up on the way back but as tired as I was, the word “strenuous” on the trail sign was a deterrent. That will wait until next time when I’m better prepared for a hike.
The scenery is very different during this stretch compared to the Boonville to Rocheport section. I can’t say I like it better, it’s just different. The Boonville stretch will take you through corn fields mainly where this stretch is more cliffs, woods, and river. About half the way to Hartsburg, the sun started breaking through and it started warming up. Most of this stretch has shade, but there are several short areas where you will have all sun and it does heat up pretty quick but you’ll be back into a shaded area quickly where you can cool off. As a side note: I thought ahead to bring a hand towel this time and on the way back when I started getting hot and really sweaty, I would stop and pour water on my towel and wipe my face, arms, and legs off. This really helped cool me down and made me feel re-energized to keep going. It probably reached close to 90 degrees and eventually the humidity died down.
Somewhere around this point, you’ll come across the sign for the Lewis and Clark campsite for June 6, 1804. Neat history. Here’s a link to more information about Lewis and Clark’s expedition and their stops along the way in Missouri. Lewis & Clark in Missouri
Around Huntsdale, you’ll see the trail for the MKT trail leading to Columbia. We encountered quite a bit of traffic from Rocheport to the MKT trailhead. Most folks are friendly, but there are plenty that ride side by side and don’t seem to think that they should have to ride single file when passing; we were were kind enough to go single file…why shouldn’t they? But like I said, most are kind enough. (I don’t seem to take near as many pictures biking as opposed to hiking but it is quite a bit more of a challenge to stop, get your phone, and take a picture on your bike where hiking, you just stop and click).
Up next is Huntsdale. Here you will find Katfish Katy’s. We did not stop here but from a distance, you could see a small parking area, bathroom, water, and apparently you can eat at Katfish Katy’s and gather some basic supplies.
Next up is McBaine. There is a nice trailhead here with parking, water, and bathrooms. There’s also a bar & grill, but apparently I didn’t notice. Also I forgot to pay attention to the large burr oak near McBaine that everyone takes pictures of (I’m sure I’ll return and catch it next time). McBaine is a nice place to park (for a day trip); however, it is remote and I”m not sure I’d leave my vehicle here for days on end.
The trail condition rather declines quickly after this point. It gets pretty rough at points and there’s not a lot to see for a good stretch. Easley for instance. We rode through here as fast as we could. Easley does boast Boathenge which is really cool but the facilities here are questionable. The trail through here is really rough. It will continue this way for a few more miles and doesn’t really smooth back out until closer to Hartsburg.
You’ll cross multiple bridges on this section, some wooden, some steel. Some cross creeks, some cross holes in the ground, and some cross the river.
Up next thankfully was Hartsburg. We were ready to sit down and eat by this time. The trail did start to improve thankfully.
Heading east into Hartsburg if you are going to Doty’s, take a left and then swing right and the diner will be on the left. We went to the trailhead first to check out the amenities. It’s another nice trailhead. Great place to park, bathrooms, water. Once again, I don’t know if I’d leave my car here for days but one day definitely and maybe overnight.
Doty’s Cafe is very picturesque on the outside. It’s very cute and cozy. (I neglected to take a picture outside — too focused on eating). There is a little cafe-style table outside under a shade tree and a nice-sized bike rack. Stepping inside, it is decorated with nostalgic items from the 50s, 60s, etc. Elvis, Betty Boop, Coca-Cola, etc. The temperature inside was cool and felt amazing. The people were friendly, shouting hello as soon as you walk in and “sit anywhere you want.”
We sat down at a table near the front where we could see our bikes. Shortly thereafter, the waitress came by with 2 glasses of ice-cold water (ahhh) and menus. Oh, somewhere along this time, we also ended up with an entire pitcher of ice-cold water without even asking. We both ordered the special of the day – cheeseburger (I got fries, Mike got onion rings) and of course, I got a blackberry cobbler (without ice cream – I would’ve loved to have the ice cream but didn’t feel like it would’ve been a good idea to eat dairy and head out into the scorching sun).
After ordering, I went to the bathroom. Nice, clean.
Shortly after, the food arrived, and let me tell you, it was amazing. I had said I hope the burgers aren’t frozen and I will admit that when they were put on the table, they have the shape of frozen, preformed patties but let me tell you, they are fresh and they are delicious. Moist, flavorful. The onion rings were to die for – some of the best we’ve ever had and the fries were great.
Last but not least, the cobbler. Without ice cream, it was amazing. The crust was so flaky but moist. Oh the blackberries. It almost taste like there’s a little bourbon in there, but I’m sure that’s just the blackberries strong taste coming out….fabulous blackberry cobbler. Don’t miss out!
While I was reveling in my cobbler, Mike went out to get our empty Nalgene bottles to fill up with the remaining ice water that was in our pitcher and once he came back in the door, one of the ladies that worked there hollered, do you want me to fill those up for you? Oh, sure.
That is amazing service from an establishment that caters to bicyclists. They don’t give you a hard time and they know what you need without even asking and no less, the food is worth the trip.
Definitely stop at Doty’s Cafe when your in Hartsburg.
As a side note, they close at 2 p.m. on Saturdays. I didn’t catch the other days’ schedule so check ahead on what time they will be open when you plan to arrive so that you aren’t disappointed if they are closed.
We had a great trip back, probably much more enjoyable with that wonderful meal in our bellies. I neglected to take any pictures on the way back, but with as hot as it was, we stopped at 8-mile intervals to rest, cool off, and refresh. This definitely made the trip back more enjoyable.
I can’t wait to go again….it’s just too bad that I have to work! So in summary, this is a don’t miss section of the Katy Trail. Most of it is gorgeous and great. The exception is around Easley, that’s the part of the trail to make up time on rather than stop to view the scenery!
Title: Katy Trail: Rocheport to Hartsburg
Track lenght: 81.9Km.
Altitude range: 57m. (Min height: 140m. Max height: 197m.)
Total climb: 471m. Total descent: 472 m.
Page link: http://www.tammyonthetrail.com