It had been another night in the low 40’s, and for the first time this trip, we actually felt rested. Marc had finally gotten some sleep by supplementing his sleeping bag with a small throw blanket that he’d found at Dollar General. I slept fine, but only did so by wearing everything that I’d brought clothes-wise. We could stay an additional day if we wanted, as it was only Thursday, and we had nowhere to be until Monday. What was holding us back however, was the fact that it was going to be in the mid-30’s that night, and it was only going to get to the upper 50’s on Friday. A cold night, coupled with a cold day, was unanimously given two thumbs down; way down.
No camping Thursday night, would mean that we’d have to finish it up. There was 76 miles to Machens, the eastern terminus of the trail. We’d then have to ride the 13 miles back to St Charles, as this was where our cars were parked. Marc was fine with the 76, but when I told him 90-ish would do it all, he was comfortable with ending his ride the first time through St Charles.
We packed up and headed over to a coffee shop that had been recommended to us at the pizza place the night before. The route to the coffee house took us on streets we hadn’t ridden, so it was an easy way to see more of this unique town. The coffee was good, and the coconut macaroon that I had with it was divine.
It was still in the 40’s when we rolled out of Hermann, and we were layered up with almost everything we had. Once back on the trail from the Hermann spur, we were happy to find that the trail was open to the sun from time to time, and not totally tucked underneath the canopy of the trees. The day warmed up nicely, but we knew there was a strong NW wind waiting for us on the approach to St. Charles.
We made it to Marthasville, and decided that we should split up, as I had an extra 24 miles to ride with Marc deciding to stop short in St. Charles. The trail drifted away from the river for a bit, and became lushly planted farmland. Rolling into Weldon Spring, I took the time to read the information board about the location, and found out that there was a spur that went to a large radioactive waste disposal site that the government had contained, and then covered it with a large mound of white rock. There’s even steps in the mound so you can climb to the top. I made a mental note to check this out next time.
The trail became a lot more busy the closer I got to St. Charles. Many people were out biking, running, and walking. There were also several trail crews out through here pruning trees, and at one point the trail was being graded.
I made it to the main TH in St. Charles, and knew that I had about 13 miles to Machens. The sights were urban for several miles, and then the trail climbed up on top of the levy. Here’s where I was ambushed by the wind, and it was debilitating for several miles. I’d later read where it was 15mph, gusting to 30mph. I made it to Machens, snapped some pics, and then headed back to St. Charles, where my car was waiting.
Day three started with a much warmer night than day two, and with the forecast calling for a high in the upper 70’s, we were looking forward to the day. The night did however cover everything in a thick layer of dew, so we spent some extra time that morning drying out our tents before heading east.
The trail was chock right full of people this morning. A large group passed, and then another, and then another. There were also many people out around Jefferson City, running, biking, and walking. The state capitol stands out in the distance as you roll across the north side of Jefferson City. The town itself is never approached by the trail, so if you’re thinking that a gas station or a store will be close by, you’re rather bummed when you’re suddenly back into the woodland.
We’d only eaten whatever we could find at the golf course last night: hot dogs, snickers, chips. Nothing but quality right there. We were starving now, and running low on drinks and snacks. We rolled into Mokane to find absolutely nothing in town. There were some closed restaurants, and a gas station that only had gas pumps, no sort of store connected with them. Luckily there was a man pumping gas, and he was able to tell us that there was a Dollar General less than a mile north. Tah-Dah! We headed north, dreaming of a cokes and sandwiches. We loaded up at Dollar, and sat out front on a low retaining wall, eating and enjoying the quickly warming sun.
Our destination that day was Hermann, a town of Germanic influence and flare. Well known in the Midwest for its lively Octoberfest, Hermann has some unique architecture, and more importantly, a really nice camping area right in the middle of town. Hermann is not officially on the Katy, but there’s a spur trail that will lead you there. This trail quickly spits you out onto a well used highway. There is a very wide shoulder, but after the serenity of the trail, finding yourself being passed by trucks snaps you right back to reality. This highway takes you to a protected bike lane on the bridge over the Missouri River, and then the traffic through Hermann is slow and controlled.
We find the city park that contains the campground, and there are several RV’s, but only one tent. We were able to snag one of the tent sites that had a small covered picnic table, and wasn’t too far away from the rather small shower house. We set up camp in 2 minutes flat, and then go off in search of our first real meal in 24 hours. A local points us to a pizza place that has “the best pizza I’ve ever had.” We each order a pizza, shrugging off the servers insistence that the pizzas are large, and that we could probably just share one. “What we don’t eat, we’ll have for breakfast.”
We hit a Casey’s on the way back, shower, and relax at the campsite. This was the warmest day of the trip, and we were sad to see it end. Another cool night was ahead of us, and we cursed the cold front, but were happy that there was no rain.
Katy Trail – Day 3 – Hartsburg to Hermann – Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Supply points are thin on this section. Your luck will greatly improve on weekends, as most of the small town diners are open, and there’s a small store in Claysville. You can stop at the golf course in North Jefferson for a small assortment of snacks and drinks, and there’s a Dollar General one mile north of Mokane.
We camped at the Hermann City Park for $15/ tent. (573) 486-5400. Keep in mind that their extremely popular Octoberfest takes place every weekend in October. If you’re arriving on a Friday/weekend during this time, expect the campground to be full. The campground is flanked on the east side by the main road through town, so road noise can be an issue as well.