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Boy Scouts on Katy Trail

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John Nettles:
Wow, I get to do the honors of being the first to ask a question on this forum.

My son is in Boy Scouts and his troop is considering a multi-day trip along the Katy Trail in Missouri next summer.  What do I need to consider (other than my sanity) if we do take 10-25 twelve to fifteen year old males on a trip like this.  Most are not that experienced so some of the obvious (lower miles, get bikes in shape, etc.) will be factored in.

What about stuff "you wish you knew before you had done this" type stuff?

Thanks in advance!

Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!


...and as luck would have it TulsaJohn my brothers and I actually rode the KATY. BTW...haven't forgotten about you...TXDOT Highway Dept. is across the street from where I work, so still working on your other route. Facilities for getting food/water can be slim along the KATY do a Search for "KATY Trail" and click on the menu item that has the words "...mileage and more" and therein you will find a wealth of information. Camping areas are not exactly proliferate, the KATY Roundhouse near Boonville is exceptional for you and your Boy Scouts. Sedalia at the MO. State Fairgrounds, but after Boonville camping takes a little more to arrange, but can be done. Avoid Cooper's landing, (more adult oriented with alcohol and late night carousing and no the Dalton Boys didn't camp there), instead try the "Trading Post" just down the trail no more than maybe 3-5 miles...Robert & Maggie are the proprietors and they might be able to accomodate you. The MO. Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) KATY web site will be helpful as well. At the Sedalia KATY Station there is a MO. Park Ranger who's job is to patrol some of the KATY and he does it primarilly on a bicycle, (I want his job). He is a wealth of information and can facilitate maybe you all staying at a small town's city park. It is a pug, or crushed limestone surfaced Rail/Trail and as you well know part of the L&C Trail. Doesn't require mountain bikes as the surface is pretty manageable the whole way. If other questions pop up let me know...and enjoy the KATY, its a hoot!! Enjoy the Voyage....Mark of the Dalton Boys

Tulsa John,

So glad to hear that you are headed out on an adventure with the kids. I'm not sure if you have seen Adventure Cycling's newest publication, but Pedal Pioneers: A Guide to Bicycle Travel, aims to not only to lead folks through the process of planning a youth bicycle trip, but also shares over 20 different youth bicycle tour leader's experiences. It is a very valuable resource. Check it out at

My son is in Boy Scouts and his troop is considering a multi-day trip along the Katy Trail in Missouri next summer.  What do I need to consider (other than my sanity) if we do take 10-25 twelve to fifteen year old males on a trip like this.  Most are not that experienced so some of the obvious (lower miles, get bikes in shape, etc.) will be factored in.

For information about whats along the trail, see . It has information about distances between towns, and services available.

Ive ridden parts of the trail 5 times, three times with the Santa Fe Trail Trip (sagged, East-bound)), and twice on Lewis & Clark Trail trips (sagged, westbound then east bound). The three SFT trips were short, from Booneville to New Franklin or Booneville to Rocheport. The L&C trips were from St. Charles to Booneville in 2002 and return in 2006.

The surface is generally chipped limestone. The bikes will get filthy!!! I would not recommend skinny-tired bikes. My 700X35 touring tires worked very well, although there were a few places where the surface was loose and the rocks more rounded. Riding on a paved road takes less energy than on the trail. However, the nearby roads are generally very hilly and do not always closely follow the trail.

The 2002 trip took place in mid-June, a VERY HOT mid-June. It featured kamikaze turtles that would meander across the trail then suddenly stop and pull in their heads and feet. There were a number of dead turtles, I dont know if it was a result of their kamikaze movements or people deliberately running over them. There was a fair amount of shade, but if you stopped to rest in the shade you were immediately attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes.

The 2006 trip took place during a period of drought. As a result we saw few turtles (they preferred to hang out closer to the river, I guess), and the mosquitoes were fewer in number. However, only a few days before there had been a huge thunderstorm. The storm knocked out power to 500,000 homes in St. Louis, and knocked over a couple of tents belonging to people in our group even though we were 400 miles away. The storm knocked lots of small branches off trees, quite a few large branches, and even a couple of full trees onto the trail. There was also serious erosion in places. I also ran over a medium sized black snake (non-poisonous) thinking it was a branch. I avoided several other snakes stretched out across the trail. Hopefully, the mess has now been cleaned up.

We stayed in the Hartsburg, MO American Legion Park, where the flushables couldnt deal with paper. We went to a nearby church where 11 of us took turns using a single shower. (OK, it was an inexpensive tour.) The mayor joined us for dinner and pointed out where the water level had been in the park a few years before when the Missouri flooded. The top of the backboard was visible, but not the basketball hoop. She also told us about how they dealt with the flooding.

While we were in the park we watched a black snake climb easily up a tree. It made you wonder what was above you in the tree-covered sections of the trail!

We also stayed in the Hermann, MO city park, which had a nice picnic shelter. On the way out in 2002, we stayed at a city park in St. Charles by special arrangement. A police officer came by at 11 pm or so and locked the bathroom doors. We left the next morning before they were unlocked. At least they didnt turn on the sprinklers.

There's a tunnel at Rocheport. Take off your sunglasses. On one of the SFT trips someone became disoriented in the darkness and ran into a wall.

Personally, I wouldn't go out of my way to take a trail. It was a very tedious 2.5 days/150 miles. Flat gets to be very boring. With all the branches, snakes, loose limestone, and culverts you could never really relax, either. We were there on weekdays, generally early in the day, so we avoided the weekend crowds who often ride eradically.

The Complete Katy Trail Guidebook,
All New, Updated & Revised 8th Edition

This Guidebook may have useful information. I've never seen or used it.


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