Five Days on the Katy Trail – Day Four – Jefferson City to Boonville, MO

31 Jul

Our last morning to ride the trail began with another wonderful breakfast.  At the Cliff Manor Inn, we had the option of a 7:30 breakfast or a 9:00 am breakfast.  We chose the earlier time, as did the other two couples that were staying there the previous night.  They had driven in from Tucson and Omaha and were just beginning their Katy Trail adventure.  They were on a two week bike trip and were driving to different areas to ride.  Last week, they biked a trail through the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Hmm, something to think about for the future…   We chatted with them a bit about what we’d experienced and wished each other good rides for the day ahead.  Breakfast was cinnamon swirl french toast, ham and fruit.  The Cliff Manor Inn is owned by a man named Steve, and family members do the cooking on a rotating basis.  Sometimes it’s Steve, sometimes his wife, but today it was their son.  He did a great job and we were set for the day ahead.


The mileage today would be our longest.  From Jefferson City to our next and final stop in Boonville, was about 52 miles.  The weather was even milder today.  I think the highs were in the upper 80s.  We grabbed our saddlebags, loaded our bikes and started off. The morning air was fresh and clean and I took lots of photos.  I love the look of the spiderwebs in the early morning sun!  As we left the Jefferson City spur, I thought it was neat to see the old rails still embedded in the pavement of the crossroad.  All the rail lines have been removed from the trail itself, guess these were stuck!

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Almost the entire route today was alongside the river.  We noticed several stands of cane or bamboo?  Not sure what it was, but it was dense in some sections. image We stopped near one of the Lewis and Clark expedition markers along the trail and chatted with an older gentleman named Charlie.  He had ridden his bike from near Hartsburg and was resting beside the river too.  He was very familiar with the trail and the area.  He told us that it was country music day at Dotty’s Cafe in Hartsburg, and that they were starting up at 9:00 am if we were interested.  He also said that Dotty’s has really good biscuits and gravy.  Too bad we’d already eaten.  We planned to stop at Hartsburg for a water break but decided to skip the country music. image So our next stop was Hartsburg, a charming little town.  A really helpful thing about the trailheads is that at each little town, it gives the history of the area, tells you what services are available, and tells you the points of interest ahead, whether you’re traveling east or west.

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I think Miss Dotty (of Dotty’s cafe) must be a nice lady, we saw this sign she had posted on the info board at the trailhead.


As we traveled westward, we came upon a sight you just don’t see everyday.  The locals call it Boat Henge. Someone had the idea that the thing to do with boats no longer needed, was to plant them in the yard alongside the trail.  There were six of them in all, and someone had planted lillies around them.  It did make for an interesting conversation piece, and I could not resist the picture.

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We continued on from there and decided to eat lunch at Rocheport.  We passed an area right between the trail and the river called Cooper’s landing.  It consisted of a campground, a little store, bait shop, bicycle rental etc.  I think you could even pay for a hot shower.  The most unexpected thing about it though was the presence of Chim’s Thai Restaurant.  Very unexpected for this remote location in the middle of nowhere!  We passed on the Thai food and pedaled on toward Rocheport. image We had stayed the night in Rocheport on a previous trip to the Katy Trail and really liked the town.  It’s full of old buildings and nice people.  There were several options for lunch there, whether they are open or not depends on the day of the week and the business owner’s schedule.  The first place we tried, was a little trailside outdoor restaurant called the Mulberry Grill and Bakery.  It’s behind a man’s house and he has an outdoor brick pizza oven.  We thought a wood fired grilled pizza would be great! image But he was not open, so we pedaled a block off the trail and checked Main Street.We decided to eat at the General Store on Main Street.  It’s another family owned business and the owner seated us and told us the building was constructed in the 1800’s as a general store and pharmacy.  She went to the back and found an old picture taken inside the store a long time ago, showing women in long dresses and all kinds of medicines lining the shelves (the shelves behind where Jimmy is sitting).


She gave us a history lesson on the old buildings in the town.   It turns out that members of her family owned a number of the buildings, because years ago, her  grandmother moved to town from California and bought up many of the old vacant buildings when no one else wanted them.  Members of her family have repurposed them, bringing new life back into the downtown area.

She ran the restaurant where we ate, her nephew was cooking our food, and her sister ran the antique shop right next door.  It was a fascinating glimpse into the town’s history. When the phone rang and her brother-in-law (who was standing right behind the counter) ignored it, she said, “my family drives me crazy!” Lol.  She excused herself and went to answer the phone, then brought back our food.  I ordered the broccoli and ham quiche, Jimmy ordered the hot ham and cheese. image There are many interesting sights on the trail around the Rocheport area.  We stopped at them all so I could take pictures.  Thankfully Jimmy is very patient with my endless photography!  We’ll be pedaling along at a good clip and I’ll see something I just have to capture!  He’s pretty good at stopping on a dime now, so I don’t miss that perfect shot.

The first thing we saw as we headed out of town toward Boonville, was the old railroad tunnel built in 1893.  A long bridge crosses a large creek that runs into the Missouri right as you head into the tunnel.  We watched some very big fish from the bridge.


Another interesting thing we noticed as we headed into town, though very hard to see in the photo, were pictographs high upon the bluff.  These were first mentioned in journals in 1819 and were noted by early explorers that traveled through.  Interestingly though, these particular ones were not mentioned by Lewis and Clark, though others in the area were.  The Indians that lived here marked the bluffs in this way  They have faded over the years, but you might be able to spot the red markings on the face of the rock.  The symbol that is easiest to see is one that looks like a red Nike swish with a red dot over it in the left side of the picture.  A historical marker gives info about the Indians and the markings. imageAlso leading in to Rocheport is a cave where Lewis and Clark had camped.  It had a pretty good stream running out of it today, but also had higher ground on the side where they camped.  In their journals, they referred to the mosquitoes they encountered at every stop.  They traveled with mosquito netting to try to keep them off.  We were not bothered by mosquitoes while we were riding, but the minute we stopped, we were swarmed by them!  We traveled with Deep Woods Off wipes! (and I was very glad that Mr. Double Contingency had thought of that little detail!)  The cave is hard to see in this photo because of the dense foliage around it.


We saw a few other small caves, some high up on the bluffs and some at trail level. image We had to pull off at this stone structure built right into the bluff.  I had read somewhere that it was used by the railroad during construction of the M-K-T line to store explosives. image We saw relics from the old rail lines all along the trail, the chiseled M-K-T logo in the face of the bluff was still visible to passers by.  Right below, was an iron pipe projecting from the limestone with a trickle of water.  Below the water drip was lush foliage all the way to the trail. imageimage

After lunch, we only had about 13 miles to go.  I saw a couple of interesting things alongside the trail, one was this glazed stone silo/building, and the other was something growing on the shoulder of the trail that looked like orange silly string.  It was some type of vining plant that I only saw in this one particular area.  I’ve never seen a totally orange vine before.


Soon we saw the bridge that would take us over the Missouri River into Boonville, and our last night of our adventure.  I will have to admit, I was feeling a little sad knowing that this great trip was coming to an end.  We pedaled over the bridge and stopped for a photo at the peak.  In the distance over the river, you can see the old iron railroad bridge that was a lift bridge.  The center section could be raised and lowered to accomodate boat heights.  Sadly, it is set for removal and Boonville will lose that piece of railroad history. imageimage

Once again, our Bed and Breakfast for the night was at the base of the bridge and to the left.  We easily found the High Street Victorian Bed and Breakfast. (

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We were greeted by our host, and she took us around back to the fenced in garden area where we secured our bikes, then we went inside.  The house was built in 1880 and the present owners had returned it to the style of the Victorian era.  For a period of time, it had been a restaurant, then the present owners bought it and turned it into the bed and breakfast.  All of the light fixtures are original to the house, and they had been gas, now transformed into electric.  The wood floors were cypress, which is unusual.  She said the wood had to be imported into this area because it did not grow here. She had us sign the guest book, then took us up to our room.  We’ve stayed in a variety of places on this trip, and this one was just as delightful as the others.  Our room was very Victorian and very comfortable. imageimage

We changed out of our bike clothes, got cleaned up and decided to walk around the historic district.  We had some time on our hands before our 6 p dinner reservation, and I thought it would be interesting to do the self-guided walking tour of the historic district.  We walked to the old train depot where the visitor’s center was located to get a map, but they were closed, so we just walked around, touring ourselves.


Dinner was at the old Frederick Hotel, in the restaurant called The Fred.  It was just a couple of doors down from the B & B.  Built in 1905, it has served as a hotel, then a Greyhound bus station with restaurant, then a retirement home until 1994.  It sat empty for 10 years until the present owners bought it in 2004 and invested 4 million dollars in its renovation.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  It sits on the corner at the base of the bridge overlooking the river

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We enjoyed eating in the old dining room with the old wood floors, high tin ceilings and fans. image

Dinner was delicious.  We had a spaghetti squash fritter for an appetizer, I had chicken and he had steak.  Dessert was key lime pie for me and a chocolate bread pudding for him.



Tomorrow  Boonville to home…


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