For those of you who look forward to chasing fall color, it’s time to hit the trail.
The Katy Trail.
The 240-mile path, which runs from Clinton, Mo., to Machens, Mo., is the longest rails-to-trails project in the nation. And in October, it provides some of the most magnificent views of fall color in the state.
The trail follows the Missouri River in the same place where the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad once rambled along. Crushed limestone now sits where the tracks once were, and the trail winds through sections where hikers and cyclists can enjoy the beauty of towering bluffs on one side of the trail and the Missouri River on the other.
The timbered hillsides are alive with color in the fall — with the bright reds, oranges, yellows and purples of sugar maples, sumac and bittersweet. The peak of that color often arrives in the second and third week of October.
Cool, sunny, fall days offer the opportunity to hike or cycle past deep forests, open farm farm fields, wetlands and prairies. The path has many trailheads, so hikers or cyclists can cover a distance to their liking.
Another feature of the Katy Trail is the quaint towns that can be reached. Towns such as Hermann, Rocheport and McBaine are among the popular stopping points.
The Katy Trail gets plenty of love, especially on weekends. But on weekdays, hikers or cyclists can get off to themselves, enjoying the beauty and solitude of central Missouri.
And there’s no better time to visit than mid to late October.