Thomas J. Miller
I have known a Katie in high school and a Katie at work. Now I know the Katy Trail. If you're looking for an amazing adventure in the heart of the Midwest, look no further than this Missouri gem.
Stretching across the state, the Katy Trail offers cyclists, runners, and walkers a wonderful opportunity to experience the outdoors. Take in views of the Missouri river and the surrounding bluffs. Watch turkey vultures float on the air currents in search of carrion. Search for wildlife in the boundless forests and fields that border the trail.
Or, as we preferred, park your car and pedal in search of local wines and beer.
We embarked to the St. Charles trail head. Our plan was to bike round trip to McKittrick and back. En route, we improvised and started instead in Augusta - the town where we had booked an Airbnb to spend the night.
We started our first day ride with a quick thirst quencher at Mount Pleasant Winery. We especially appreciated Darryl's enthusiasm as he poured our wine tastings, shared local stories, and convinced us to try the Port tasting. This is a highly recommended way to start your trip - just know it is an uphill bike slog from the Augusta trail head parking lot to visit this winery.
From there, it was a short (downhill) cruise to Augusta Winery. We enjoyed a few quick tastes - the white selections especially - and then hit the trail to Defiance.
For those who might worry, the Katy Trail is extremely flat and well-maintained. There are modest uphill and downhill grades (depending on direction). The trail is compressed gravel and dirt - it is not paved, but is a very comfortable ride.
In Defiance we got some excellent pizzas and delicious evening beers at Good News Brewing. It was a quiet time when we visited on a Thursday. Based on the size of the facility, Fridays and Saturdays would be quite a great time.
Give yourself enough time to bike back to Augusta. We got caught at the tail end of available light and limped to Acorn Ridge Bed and Breakfast for an amazing night's rest. Natasha at Acorn Ridge gave us fair warning and take my word for it - there isn't much to eat on Thursday night in Augusta. We planned accordingly by biking back with a spare pizza.
The following day we traveled west on the trail from Augusta to Marthasville, visiting Lake Creek Winery and Blumenhof Vineyards during the round trip journey. We awarded ourselves when we returned to Augusta with a quick Oktoberfest beer at Augusta Brewery, which has a beer garden right next to the trail head parking lot.
We stopped at Balducci Vineyards on our way to Hermann, enjoying the views from the beautiful fields behind the tasting room. The wine was great, and the scenery was spectacular.
In Hermann, we hit the jackpot with the Artist's House Bed and Breakfast. Want an amazing stay, delicious breakfasts, and a great host family? Book here. Jim and Vicki will ensure a five star experience.
Hermann was, admittedly, a bit of a zoo. We loved all the wineries (save for one - if you want to know, I'm happy to respond to a comment), and especially took a shine to grabbing a bottle of Dierberg Pinot Noir from Dierberg Star Lane Vineyards. We sat next door in the Hermannhof courtyard, listened to live music, and enjoyed resting our tired legs under the warm, early autumn sun.
To wrap up the trip, we biked the next day from McKittrick to Treloar. Lunch at Treloar Bar and Grill was an UNBELIEVABLE pleasure. We sipped a couple of $3 Samuel Adams Oktoberfests to chase down our delicious sandwiches (order the Stanley). We then biked back to Lost Creek Winery, met a great couple, had some awesome Norton and Vignoles wine, and finished our bike ride with the last rays of evening light.
Simply put, the Katy Trail is Missouri's State Park. For the rest of us, we should consider it a national treasure. Make it a must-do on your bucket list.