Rails to Trails with your Family

Rail to Trails

Have you ever been interested in a rails to trails with your family? This summer we completed the midsection of the Katy Trail in Missouri.


We only had 3 days of vacation time so we chose the most scenic section and dominated it!


We started with an incomplete train ride (a train derailment up the line led to a 5 hour late bus ride). The delay caused us to arrive into our starting point at midnight. MUCH later then we had anticipated. Plus with a toddler who was anxious to ride a train (let down #1) and 5 hours past her bedtime (let down #2) we were doomed for disaster.

Waiting for the bus
Waiting for the bus

When we arrived in Sedalia at midnight, we unloaded the bikes, dawned our helmets and were about to set out on the 1/2 mile ride to our hotel when we noticed the toddler had one shoe on. She has fallen asleep on the bus ride and when I picked her up to disembark I must have knocked it off. This wouldn’t have been a huge deal if we had another pair of shoes for her.

One Shoe

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Day 1 started with a quick stop at the local Piggly Wiggly and then off to the trail head! Before we even stout on the trail we encountered snake #1 (of 10 on the whole trip).

Notice the socks....
Notice the socks….

We were under the impression that our first day on the trail would be long but steady. Not too grueling but mostly open and sunny. Half of this was true. It was HOT and SUNNY. Only a little shade cover but actually 200 foot decent, although it felt like we were headed uphill the whole way.

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After 50+ miles we stopped at the Katy Trail Bed and Breakfast in Rochefort, Missouri. The sleepy little town was very quiet at 430pm. After showers and some relaxing time in the AC, we headed out into “town” and found an AMAZING foode. Abigail’s Restaurant was perfect! locally grown organic food was perfectly made. They have different meals each day and the menu is on a whiteboard they bring to your table. It was a divine meal! Perfect ending to the first day!

Katy Trail Bed and Breakfast
Katy Trail Bed and Breakfast

GAP trail

Great Allegheny Passage

Recently we’ve been doing a bunch of Rails to Trails type cycling.  With the birth of our first child, our cycling changed from primarily single-track mountain biking to more “touring” centric in order to facilitate the use of a bike trailer.  We utilize the Chariot CX.  (More to follow on the trailer in a gear specific review of it)  Needless to say, we take it everywhere. 

Our family has really been spending some time on these Rails to Trails for the specific reason of use of the Chariot, ability to get out in the woods and the lack of vehicle traffic versus road rides.  This trip takes us to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail in Pennsylvania.  The GAP trail specifically starts in Cumberland Maryland and ends at Pittsburg Pennsylvania.  When connected with the C&O trail, you could ride from downtown DC to Pittsburg PA (300 + miles) on two track dirt roads.  This 300 mile trip is on our mind for a potential family adventure in the Spring. 
The GAP trail offers very few reasonably priced shuttle services, forcing us to do multiple out and back trips over the weekend.  On this trip, we utilized our Salsa Vaya and Surly Cross Check, easily covering the trail at an average of about 14 MPH. 
The first day we started in Myersdale and biked to Rockwood and back.  We went out approximately 12 miles and ended up biking back as it started to get dark (luckily we had brought some nice bike lights with us). 
We then moved on to Rockwood town and crashed in the Urban Adveture Van (UAV) at the trailhead. The town offered a hostel and a campground on the trail named Husky Haven Campground.  We woke in the morning to some mild cloud cover and reasonable temperatures.  Rolling out around 9 AM we covered approximately 29 miles to the town of Ohiopyle where we hit the local bike store and ordered a pizza at Fox’s Pizza Den.  The pizza was awesome (most of the restaurants and ice cream joints are closed during the winter months) and was exactly what we needed for the return ride.  During the return we were subject to a few sprinkles turning into a serious down pour while we loaded up making us very thankful for the awning on the UAV. 
One of the only limiting factors we face camping out of the van is the lack of shower on board.  So after a solid day of riding we decided to look for a place to get cleaned up.  Luckily we called Husky Haven Campground who had showers for rent.  The facility catered to Appalachian Trail hikers and GAP riders/hikers.  They have very nice shower facilities, a bike cleaning/maintenance area and an Internet café. 
This trail has many more miles for us to explore with the real possibility of linking it with the C&O trail for an epic gravel grinder trip.