Back in the fall of 2013, Barry bicycled the entire length of the Katy Trail in Missouri, from Clinton (west) to Machens (east) in four days while I drove with Paisley. Each day I'd drive to our next motel, get Paisley settled, and in some cases was close enough to be able to hop on the trail and ride my bicycle out to meet Barry. If you're interested, you can read all about this adventure in a series of older blog posts.
This time, we stayed in a spot near the Katy that I'd noticed along the way and really wanted to see: Hermann, Missouri. This town, often called "Little Germany", looked so quaint and charming as I'd driven through, I wanted to get a closer look. However, all the lodging there was bed & breakfasts, which would make traveling with Paisley difficult as very few B&Bs allow dogs. So, the trip didn't happen in 2013 or 2014 while we were living in the greater KC area. But now that we're traveling in Pearl, we were able to return.
There's a nice city park with RV sites and hookups right in Hermann, a great spot from which to see the city (more on this in the next post). And as you can see from this map, the Katy Trail is just a few miles north of Hermann, so we could ride a portion of it during our stay.
We chose to ride our Bike Fridays this time. Barry had ridden his mountain bike before but said that it was overkill, since the Katy is well-maintained, firmly packed crushed limestone. The 1.35" wide tires on our Fridays would do just fine. It proved to be a good choice, as these bikes are a bit faster and lighter than our mountain bikes, and certainly much better for the road to and from the trail.
Before setting out, we pedaled to a charming bakery in downtown Hermann that Barry had sniffed out the day before. He has a nose for donuts, I tell you! There, we stocked up on goodies for our ride.
We got to cross the mighty Missouri River on the way to the Katy Trail access point. There's a protected ped-bike portion of the bridge, making it a very safe ride.
We had an enjoyable ride on the trail from the access point just west of McKittrick to Mokane and back. I'd originally planned on going only to Portland, but there was no water there, so we forged on.
If you look closely, you can see that Barry is wearing his Katy Trail jersey from his earlier ride!
This is Standing Rock. It looks like an isolated boulder but is actually a part of a bluff that has resisted erosion. This portion of the Katy Trail runs right through the Grand Bluffs Conservation Area along the Missouri River. This is an exceptionally pretty part of the trail, and the shade was much appreciated on this hot day.
This section of the trail is quite rural with almost no services. No restaurants, no bakeries, no ice cream shops, just a couple of rest rooms and occasional water spigots. On a hot day, a water spigot is gold!
On the way back, we took our last rest stop in Rhineland, where there was a pretty garden. And we found a soda machine! We each indulged in one, giving us the energy we needed to pedal the final few miles back to Hermann.
We ended up with over 55 miles on the day, at least 15 more than I'd planned on!
I won't lie, the last ten miles or so, I was suffering a bit. But looking back now, I only remember how much fun it was and feel fortunate that we got to enjoy another great day on one of America's premiere rail-trails.
We've had A Slice of Pie on our bucket list ever since Barry read about it while researching things to do in the states surrounding Kansas City a few years ago when we were living in the KC area. Somehow we never made it over. But now we've finally been!
Barry negotiated Pearl through the downtown streets of Rolla, Missouri and we found a level parking spot just up the street. Perfect! A few steps later, and the angels sang. We were there at last!
I learned from their website that this small business has been open for 27 years, makes all pies in-house, and that some pies weigh as much as 5 to 6 pounds. That's a monster pie
And, as the website admits, these pies are not cheap. But this was probably the only time we'll get to Rolla, so we felt it was money well spent. After all, it's PIE.
And let's face it: As the sign says...
Barry was one happy camper.
Here's our haul. We got four half-pies: cherry-raspberry, strawberry rhubarb, Snickers, and Peanut Butter Twirl (frozen). The small containers are chocolate and caramel sauce, to add insult to injury.
After all that fun, we made our way to Lane Spring Recreation Area in the Mark Twain National Forest, a few miles south of town.
The campground was mostly empty and absolutely gorgeous, with huge deciduous trees and tons of privacy. Pearl settled right in to a lovely site for two nights, or so we thought.
Turns out, this beautiful place had the most mosquitoes we'd encountered at any campground to date. We really couldn't sit outside, and it would not have been a good hiking spot this time of year. Also, the road cycling in the area was not great as the park was situated off a somewhat busy highway. We still had our colds and weren't feeling all that great either.
We decided to cut our losses and leave after just one night. Fortunately we'd paid just $11/night with Barry's Senior Park pass. Onward to Hermann!
The only reason we came to Bolivar, Missouri, was to ride yet another rail trail. We had high hopes for the Frisco Highline Trail, only some of which were realized. At 35 miles, this is the second longest rail trail in Missouri, behind only the well-known and much longer Katy Trail. Unfortunately, the Frisco Highline Trail was not nearly as impressive as its website.
On our first day in town, we did a short ride from our RV park to access the trail, then took the trail a few miles north into town. This portion of the trail is paved and well=maintained.
We passed La Petite Gemme ("little gem") Prairie, one of the last prairie remnants in the area. How nice that it is accessible via the rail trail.
Approaching town, there is no easy way to cross busy Highway 13, so there is a longish road detour to continue the trail. This detour was not always well-marked, and we took a wrong turn once. We eventually figured it out and got back on the trail to ride to its northern terminus in town.
The primary purpose of this short ride was to stop in at one of our favorite stores, Aldi, and pick up some groceries.
On our second day, we rode south on the trail. Our access point from the county road was at Mile Marker (MM) 31. This portion of the trail is unpaved but was supposedly packed limestone like the Katy Trail, so we took our Bike Fridays, with their 1.35" wide tires.
Parts of this section were indeed smoothly packed limestone and easy and fun to ride.
In many places, however, a good mowing and branch trimming was needed as the grass and weeds were high, and occasionally the trail would almost disappear in the weeds. We were surprised to see how poorly maintained this section of trail was, but it was tolerable compared to the conditions we encountered the farther south we pedaled.
We had hoped to make it to the town of Walnut Grove at MM 16, but ended up turning around early due to the gravel conditions, mostly from the Little Sac River bridge (MM 23) to MM 21 (and probably farther south).
This section appeared to have been relatively recently re-graveled. The gravel was larger and deeper than ideal (up to 3" deep in some places), leading to fish-tailing and difficulties controlling our bikes. It was good to see that some maintenance had been done, but it was not done well; the gravel was not spread evenly or thinly enough, making it somewhat hazardous and not fun to ride. We would recommend this section for mountain bikes only.
Unfortunately, I did not think to stop and take a photo of conditions in this section, I was having a hard enough time just keeping the rubber side down!
We took a little detour on an access road near the campground on our way back to photograph this cool little store. Outside were many vintage gas pumps and signs. Neat place!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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