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20 years on the Katy Trail

By: Kristy Nerstheimer

Our Katy Trail story is a bit different. I can’t tell a tale of biking the entire 237.7-mile trail in 4 days. But what I can spin is a lifetime of memories for my family.

My husband and I were first introduced to the Katy Trail over 20 years ago while visiting friends in St. Charles, Mo. We rented bikes, rode on the beautiful trail, enjoyed the charming city of St. Charles, and became hooked!

Since then, we started riding portions of the trail every year. We first started as a young couple seeking the adventure of cycling while enjoying the small towns near the trail. When we had children, we felt having a yearly tradition of a “Katy Trail Bike Trip” would be a memorable part of their childhood. So we started with the bike trailer, went to the ride along bike seat, then the tag along, training wheels, and finally bikes of their own!

To accommodate our family (sorry, no hard core bikers here…just want to have some fun!), we have explored various portions and distances on the trail depending on their ages. The Katy Trail Bed and Bikefast in Rocheport has always been a wonderful place to stay! They allow children and have a fun refurbished railroad car with plenty of room. For the shorter bike trip, this allowed the kids to have an age appropriate biking experience with an ice cream treat at the General Store at the end! It has also been a great launching point for longer rides: to Boonville and back is a nice way to go…and you guessed it, ice cream at the end!

We have also taken some other trips we would highly recommend. Once, we took our bikes on the Amtrak train to Herman, MO. We stayed at the Vinchester Inn. Herman is not directly on the trail, but thanks to the small town hospitality, we were able to get a Trolley Ride there and back. Of course, not having a car only added to the adventure, especially when the rain came!

Another fun place to stay was Sedalia, Mo. The trail itself is not too scenic but the town is charming! And our Georgetown Inn hostess even gave our daughters a ride on one of her horses!

One year we drove into Hartsburg, near Jefferson City, and stayed at the Hartsburg Inn. Years later we challenged our family and rode from Rocheport to Hartsburg to stay the night in the same Inn. Then we rode back to Rocheport the next day. This was almost 50 miles round trip and probably the most challenging for our daughters but they persevered. Note to self: there are no ice cream or souvenir shops in Hartsburg as I falsely promised my kids!

This past year, we left our car in Rocheport and rode to Columbia to stay the night at The Gathering Place B&B. We enjoyed this fun town and happened to pick the weekend of the Pedelar’s Jamboree which made the trail crowded, yet fun to watch!

As my oldest enters her senior year of high school, I took a moment to reflect on our annual “Katy Trail Bike Trip.” I can’t boast about riding the entire trail (although, I still hope to one day!) nor can I brag about roughing it and camping in tents along the way.

But here is what I can say…

We have taught our daughters that exercise can be fun.

We have taught them about the warmth and charm of small towns.

We have taught them to enjoy nature and the beauty the trail has to offer.

We have taught them how to persevere and push through even when they wanted to quit.

We have taught them that adventures, including getting lost, being hot and tired, and getting caught in the rain, can actually be fun!

But mostly, we have taught them and they have taught US what family fun is all about.

So thank you, Katy Trail, thank you for the wonderful memories that I will truly cherish forever!

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