St. Louis to St. Charles
After crossing the Mississippi River into St. Louis on the Eads Bridge with its new pedestrian walkway, the ADT immediately enters the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which houses the Museum of Westward Expansion and is the site of the 630-foot-high Gateway Arch. The route then follows city sidewalks in an urban environment to Forest Park and crosses the Missouri River on the Discovery Bridge at St. Charles. Originally known as Les Petites Cotes (the little hills) by the French, then San Carlos by the Spanish, the town became St. Charles in 1804.
St. Charles to Boonville (Katy Trail)
The ADT joins the 250-mile Katy Trail in St. Charles. It follows the north bank of the Missouri River to Franklin, then crosses the river at Boonville, and goes cross-country to Clinton. This was the route of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) Railroad, which was built in the 1870s and was affectionately known as “the Katy.” The ADT joins the Katy in Frontier Park in St. Charles. Heading west from St. Charles, the Katy passes limestone bluffs in the Weldon Springs Wildlife Area. The trail is ideal for bird watching, as it is located along the Missouri River flyway, which is used by many migrating songbirds and waterfowl. Daniel Boone lived the last 20 years of his life near Defiance, and his four-story Georgian-style home, built between 1803 and 1810, is open to visitors.
The ADT passes north of Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. Towering limestone and dolomite bluffs border the trail from here to Rocheport. American bald eagles are common along this section in winter. Hartsburg, McBaine, and Huntsdale are typical post-Civil War railroad towns. A spur of the MKT has been converted into a rail-trail that goes into downtown Columbia and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Rocheport prospered as a riverboat town before the Civil War, and a large part of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The railroad tunnel just west of Rocheport is the only tunnel on the Katy Trail.
Franklin and then Boonville were where the first great wagon trains started out on the Santa Fe Trail. The first battle of the Civil War in Missouri was fought at Boonville. Boone’s Lick State Historic Site is nearby. It comprises two salt springs where Daniel Boone’s sons, Daniel and Nathan, made salt by heating brine in large iron pots.
Boonville to Kansas City Line (state line)
The ADT continues on the Katy Trail from Boonville southwest to Windsor, approximately 56 miles. The ADT passes trailheads at the towns of Boonville, Pilot Grove, Clifton City, Sedalia, Green Ridge, and Rock Island. The ADT joins the Rock Island Spur of the Katy Trail State Park about 4/10 of a mile prior to the Windsor trailhead.
The route from Windsor to Pleasant Hill follows the Rock Island Spur, a new rail-conversion. The rail-trail travels about 47.5 miles northwest across three counties. The Rock Island has a history beginning in 1852. The trail passes Leeton, Chilhowee, and Medford, and ends in Pleasant Hill. From here the ADT follows a mix of paved and gravel roads into Kansas City, staying south of the Missouri River. The route travels through Lee’s Summit, Kansas City, Raytown, and back into Kansas City before connecting to the Blue River and Indian Creek trail systems. The Indian Creek Trail continues southwesterly to the Kansas state line.