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Brian L. from Wichita on 1/19/2006 11:06:03 AM:
I'm a newbie that's considering a long KATY ride in the spring, and since I've never visited, I'm wondering if some of you can share some more details about the composition & condition of the trail. From reading these forums, I've gotten the following impressions. Are they true or false?

- The trail is very dusty and you & your bike will be, too.
- The trail has a couple of major ruts (one for each direction) and getting in & out of them is a challenge for your balance.
- The trail is pretty hard-packed, but soft enough to slow you down a lot (compared to a paved trail or road).
- The trail is not very crowded, even at peak seasons.

Can anyone comment on any or all of these assumptions? THANKS!

The Dalton Boys from Austin, TX/Columbia, MO. on 1/19/2006 12:03:42 PM:
Very dusty - no, some dust yes, but no more than any non-paved surface unless its a plainly dirt trail. Pug (crushed limestone) is the surface on the KATY and when dry is hard as concrete. If its wet (not just moist) it will get slow going and will "mung" up your shoes and bicycle drivetrain but again its got to be wet, or soaked. While there are ruts on the trail there aren't a huge proliferate amount of them, be wary after heavy rains as there will be wash-outs and ruts normally will be found only on the sides of the KATY. Minor exceptions do exist, but then again its not paved. Again, when the trail is bone dry, the surface is hard as concrete. Density of use depends mostly on ones proximity to population centers with easy access to the KATY. Starting about 40 miles out from St. Louis/St. Charles and on week-ends, it may well be crowded but it won't be like a mass start at the Tour de Tucson, or Ride for the Roses...you will be able to navigate easy enough. Other populations centers where you may encounter "crowded" conditions: Columbia and 30 miles on either side of its access to the KATY, Sedalia (kinda), Boonville. If its Wichita Kansas you're from (is there any other Wichita?), then you know that in the summer it can be oppresively hot and humid. Autumn on the KATY will be a bit more crowded as its cooler, and of course colorful. Hope this helps...Regards....Mark of the Dalton boys

frank from festus on 1/20/2006 9:50:05 PM:
brian, i rode the KATY 3 yrs ago the day after a regular toad strangler of a rain storm. not one problem, and that includes no dust obviously. experienced a few soft spots east of hartsburg bout 3-4 miles last yr when i rode, but other wisegreat biking. never have i experienced the ruts that you described. i have experienced a little dust, but nothin major. as far as crowding, there are a few more people out of the st charles area, but nothin drastic. it is certainly not neck to neck. the trail is hard packed, like concrete, however there are a few soft spots, but nothin that can't be pedaled through. happy bikin. frank

Rose from New Haven on 1/21/2006 5:32:41 PM:
I rode the trail by myself for three days a few years ago. I took the train from Hermann to Sedalia and rode to Pilot Grove the first day and to Hartsburg the second day. If you want to take your bike on Amtrak call ahead to make sure they have space for the bike. It will be a slight grade down if you travel that direction. No problems. I never noticed the dust and the ruts. Sounds like an avid trail rider wants to keep the trail to themselves. Ha! No crowds during the week but like everywhere weekends have more traffic. Carry a tent, raincoat, cold camp and have a great trip. If you list your email I can give more details if needed.

Brian L. from Wichita on 1/23/2006 10:29:49 PM:
Thanks for the great detailed comments, y'all. It's great to be able to draw on your experiences. I'm hoping to ride from Sedalia to Dutzow in April or May, but personal circumstances may push it to Sep or Oct. The enthusiam of folks like y'all make me more excited about going! BTW, what's a "cold camp"?

Anonymous from New Haven on 1/23/2006 10:46:18 PM:
Cold Camp--you simply eat cold food and you don't carry a stove. A little cooler strapped on the back with a few frozen sandwiches, fruit and peanut butter and jelly and you're set to go. It's the budget way to travel for those who want to sleep under the stars and avoid the amenities and expense of B&B and restaurants.
Yesterday the trail around the Dutzow area was hard packed and pleasant riding. It may tend to get a little soggy after freezing and thawing, depending on the remainder of the winter but should be in good shape in April/May.