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From Amtrak Station to Machens

We are coming in from Kansas City by train and riding the Katy trail back to KC. We want to ride as much of the trail as possible. Has anyone started from the Amtrak station in Alton, Il? It looks like its about 15 miles from the station to the Machens trailhead. Anyone know a good bike route in that area?
posted Aug 1 2011 10:47PM - Denny , Kansas City

You have a good idea and it shows you're thinking. If there's a through train that would let you off at Alton, you could take Hwy 67 west across the river, then turn right on Missouri Hwy 94. You might be within 15 to 20 miles. You must remember that Machens is a railroad junction point. There's a trailhead but no houses. It is south of Hwy 94 and south of the BNSF RR tracks. I know there's one or two houses on Hwy 94 when the road goes south. There's no camping on the trail and none in St Charles if you're planning on camping. Gee, I wish the city would let trail riders camp at the city park.
posted Aug 2 2011 12:08AM - gene, Indiana

The Machens trailhead is hard to find. No KT signage exists on 94 to point you in the right direction. Gene is right - there are two houses (a nice blue one and a two-story older brick house) at the corner of Machens Rd. and 94. Head south on that road, cross the tracks, veer left on the dirt road, and you'll come to the Machens trailhead. You could probably camp there after riding in from Alton across the Miss River.
posted Aug 2 2011 8:05AM - Clay, Albuquerque NM

I've sudied this route myself. The below info about the two houses helps. Yet, depending on when you arrive-in/leave Alton, you'll probably be able to make it to St Charles or beyond. If I recall it right, the last leg of the train ride to Alton is on an Amtrak bus. Enjoy!
posted Aug 2 2011 9:15AM - Anon

Riding in Alton, from the train station to the bridge shouldn't be too bad. Looks like you would go west on College Ave to Washington, left on Washington and follow it till you see the bridge. There is moderate traffic but lots of people ride in Alton.
The bridge has a bike lane but traffic is brisk.
Then I guess you would follow 67 to 94 to Machens. There are some trails on the Missouri side, after you cross the bridge. I've been on them but can't recall exactly their condition.
It's a doable ride. You will have some traffic to deal with but if you're experienced it should be OK. I would recommend flat-resistent tires though. Some of those shoulders can have debris on them.
posted Aug 2 2011 9:06PM - Bustoff

You can pick up the West Alton Bike Trail at the Mo. end of the Clark Bridge. It's not well marked but begins at the end of the big parking lot for the boat ramp. The trail ends at St. Charles St. If you make a right turn onto St. Charles St., it will take you to 94.
posted Aug 3 2011 1:49PM - JPM, Hazelwood, MO

While I wonder if the same physical train is used for the 314/304, the 304 does not allow bikes on board. 314: depart Kansas City 8:15AM, arrive St. Louis 1:55PM. 304: depart St. Louis 3:00PM, arrive Alton 3:45.

Personally, I'll take the MetroLink to the airport, hold my breath crossing the Missouri River on MO-370, and go out-and-back to Machens before heading points West.
posted Aug 3 2011 5:50PM - Paul Toigo, Kansas City Mo

2 route comments:
1) Getting from Alton to the Machens trailhead is easy as JPM stated. Bike lane across bridge, then trail and 94 isn't heavily travelled. Or one could ride the non-94 back roads almost to the Machen trailhead.

2) One could get off the Amtrak in St Louis, catch the Metrolink to LaClede's Landing (next to the St Louis Arch), then ride the bike trail north 11 miles to Chain of Rocks bridge, cross the river to IL, turn north and follow the trail about 3 miles to the Lewis and Clark Memorial (this last park is dirt on a levee, but I have seen street bikes ride it slowly), then continue on the trail (paved from Lewis and Clark) to Alton, cross the bridge, etc. Easy, no traffic, all the way from downtown St Louis. I've ridden it many times.
posted Aug 31 2011 1:49PM - Bruce, O'Fallon IL

This is a very useful thread. Thank you all very much. I too live in the Kansas City area and am trying to figure out when I can make the trip. Although - I am thinking I will ride Clinton to St. Louis and bring the train back. I haven't checked the train schedule yet however. Thanks again for this useful information.
posted Sep 1 2011 6:50AM - Anonymous

First, the conductor on the 314 advised me that the 314/304 is not the same physical train. Rather, the 314 turns around to become the 313 to run back across Missouri.

Second, on Saturday 8/27/11, we took the MetroLink to the airport. Then rode Natural Bridge Road, Bonfils, Woodford Way, Gallatin, Gist, Tausing, Ferguson, MO Bottom, and the wide shoulder of M-370 to the KATY trail and on to Machens. M-370 over the Missouri is marked as part of the MRT and there are signs advising motorists for the presence of cyclists.
posted Sep 1 2011 3:15PM - Paul Toigo, Kansas City, MO

I am doing the reverse next week: riding to Clinton, KT to Machens, then going north to take the ferry to Grafton IL, then back down the IL side, crossing on the bidge below 270, and on into STL Amtrak. Camping entire route. Excellent paved bikeway for 20 miles on IL side from Grafton.
posted Sep 3 2011 5:12PM - Ron S., Overland Park KS

Ron S. Sounds like you have a fantastic plan. Please keep us updated and provide a bit of a trip report when you return. I hope you have a fabulous trip!
posted Sep 4 2011 9:58PM - Anonymous

I scoped out this route the other day. You have to be really careful on Hwy 94 as it does not have good shoulders. It is not heavily traveled, but it's local traffic and they are very comfortable driving fast on it. I would be slightly intimidated, honestly. As for the Machens point, it is very well hidden! Go across the BNSF tracks and immediately turn left (you will be going alongside the tracks). Turn right on the dirt path after about 150 feet. I actually drove past the trailhead, it was that hidden.
posted Sep 19 2011 4:50PM - BikerBoy, Edwardsville, IL

All of the these ride ideas sound doable and fun.

Also, after checking with Amtrak (both by internet and by phone)the 322 from St Louis to Alton, IL is the only train not allowing bicycles on it. All of the others do with reservations!
posted Sep 19 2011 7:26PM - Anonymous

+1 to route around whatever parts you can, even more so as you approach rush hour times. While the volume of vehicles isn't bad, they are often large, and always fast. Traffic volume also picks up as you get closer to 5pm and the Illinoisans are returning home, and they have usually forgotten what the "other" pedal is for. And not all of the local community is happy about sharing the roads with cyclists, there has been recent political activity in that regard. Take the side roads when possible.
posted Sep 24 2011 3:51PM - mobilemail, Carrollton IL

In response to Bikerboy, I'd say: Yes, Hwy 94 from West Alton to Machens has some traffic and would be intimidating to someone not used to riding along highways. But for veteran bike riders it is quite mild.

If you are unaccustomed to riding highways with cars and/or have children with you, take the quiet route: Starting from West Alton, go north on Hwy 94 about 1/4 mile to Saale Rd and turn left. This is a very, very quiet country road. Follow that to Dwiggins Rd. This also is a quiet country road. Dwiggins will dead end at Hwy 94 just before Machens. You'll only have to ride 94 about 1/2 mile from there. Hope this helps.
posted Nov 6 2011 8:07PM - Bruce, O'Fallon, IL

Tags: Clinton, St Charles, Washington, Machens, City Park, Machens Trailhead, Camping, Parking, Internet, St Louis, Kansas City, Amtrak, Running, Tires Modify Tags

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