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Katy Trail Rock Island Spur Comments
Rock Island Trail condition and signage

Just rode the whole Rock Island Spur a week ago and wanted to give everyone my perspective. First, this is not the Katy. It has quite a way to go to get to the service levels you are used to on the Katy.

Take plenty of water because there is none at any of the trailheads (or plan on stopping in Chilhowee at the store). There are also only single portable toilets at the trailheads, and no sheltered benches. No informational signage (history, etc.) at the trailheads, either. However, there is PLENTY of parking at the trailheads (the parking lots are huge).

The trail is very flat; there are certainly no hills to compare to the western end of the Katy. What you will get is a very uncrowded riding experience. On the Friday I rode, I did not see a single person on the 47-mile ride. I have Verizon for cell service and had a good signal until I approached Windsor.

If you start in Pleasant Hill, the only drop-off/parking is at the Cass County Fairgrounds (marked "Community Building" in Google Maps). Then you need to follow the little connector trail to the southeast that takes you on a loop which dumps you onto 1st Street (you take a right on 1st). There are signs, but it's a little disorienting to start on a trail and then immediately head the "wrong" way and then leave the trail for the road. Ride on 1st Street for 1/3 mile, then you will turn right onto Cardinal. Ride on Cardinal for 1/3 mile and then you will see the official trail.

Conditions from Pleasant Hill to Medford are fine. Seems like the trail is a bit narrower than the Katy for the most part. It is also slightly softer, probably more so after it rains. The Rock Island Lake near Medford looks crystal blue and beautiful. Looks to be about 40 acres in size. Take pictures!

A few miles after Medford is where things get a bit rough. MM231 to 237 (3 miles either side of Chilhowee) is where the state is attempting to repair the oversize gravel that initially got laid down. So they recently added ag lime (fine limestone dust). Problem is that it was put on so thick in some places (5+") that it was like riding through wet cement. It had rained the night before and it was tough going for about 2-3 miles. Average speed dropped to 5-6 MPH. At MM234, the trail was flooded over for a couple hundred yards (water 4" deep). So, once I got back on the oversize gravel, I was actually relieved! I am sure they will fix this situation, and the rain/sun cycle will help harden the trail over time. But expect your speed to drop at least 1-2 MPH for the whole trail versus the Katy.

As for tree coverage, it’s about the same as the Marthasville-to-Augusta section of the Katy – mostly covered, but some mile-long open areas.

When I climbed the connector to the Katy at Windsor, it was nice to be in “civilization” again. I sure wished I had stopped for water in Chilhowee. But overall, the Rock Island Spur is a good diversion from the Katy. Just go prepared.
posted Jul 7 2017 4:44PM - BikerBoy, Maryville, IL

Thanks! That was a helpful easily understood report that should make a better ride for those wanting to do that section. Me for instance.
posted Jul 7 2017 4:53PM - Doug, Bluffton

Thanks BikerBoy. We did a 18 mi out and back from Pleasant Hill. I really liked that section. My husband wasn't too pleased. I told him it isn't the Katy and has years to go just for the amenities. I pray it develops soon.We just need to be patient
posted Jul 15 2017 7:49AM - Catwoman, Independence

Thanks for the info. I am planning a cross state ride from West Alton, MO to KC. I will be riding roads, Katy and Rock Island and back to roads ending in KC at the Missouri River.
posted Aug 3 2017 8:40AM - Roy Jacobs, Rolla,MO

Hello, Just a note about trail conditions on Aug. 4, 2017. I set out from Medford on the Rock Island heading south. It was smooth sailing until I hit Post Oak, between Chilhowee and Leeton. I started down the trail and after about 1/4 mile I noticed, without warning the surface change from hard pack to feeling like wet cement.. the going was slow and frustrating.. I did my best to avoid the soft spots until it became evident that I was not going anywhere at which time I sunk into what seemed like deep sand and my bike came out from under me and I wrecked. Just a scraped shin, but geez.. I pushed my bike for a long while, hoping to get past the impassable, but never came to an end.. I realized the surface was just poured fine limestone that was smoothed out but not compressed. No warning, just an endless sand trap. Just venting, I guess. I want desperately for this trail to be a big success, just hoping for consistency in the future. TBT
posted Aug 6 2017 8:40PM - Touring Bike Tom , Kansas City area

Thanks for the great review. I rode the Katy from W to E last Sept for the very first time. Had a blast, and I want to do another ride this year about the same time. Adding the Rock Island leg is a goal.
posted Aug 7 2017 10:30PM - Tom Wheaton, Thornton CO

Rough trail from Leeton to Windsor, not enjoyable unless you are on a mountain bike. Post Oak to Leeton continues to be a sand trap.. Skip Post Oak to Windsor. Regrettably..
posted Aug 8 2017 11:18PM - Touring Bike Tom, Kansas City area

Tags: Windsor, Marthasville, Portable toilet, Benches, Missouri State Fairgrounds, Chilhowee, Pleasant Hill, Medford, Trailheads, Parking, Water, Weather, Rock Island Trail, Gore, St Charles Modify Tags

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