There is a scenic stretch of the Missouri countryside that can't be seen from a car. The Missouri River rolls along the base of limestone bluffs stretching from the ground to the clouds and bluebirds play in prairies of wildflowers and native grasses. This part of Missouri is aptly described as magnificent.
Magnificent Missouri is a not-for-profit founded in 2012 to provide education, events, and projects dedicated to the conservation of the Katy Trail and the last 100 miles of the Missouri River Valley.
"We work with Missouri State Parks to make the Katy Trail even better by planting trees, native grasses and connecting people to the history and culture of the places they are riding past,” said Dan Burkhardt, president of Magnificent Missouri.
Dan was a partner at Edward Jones for 30 years and a close friend of philanthropist/businessman Edward D. "Ted" Jones and Ted's wife, Pat. Ted and Pat were advocates for conservation of the Missouri countryside and donated more than $2 million to acquire and construct the Katy Trail. After Dan retired from Edward Jones, he co-founded Magnificent Missouri to continue improving the trail.
The Katy Trail is America's longest park. "It's 237 miles long and about 40 feet wide," said Dan. And while thousands of people visit the Katy Trail each year, Dan noted, "There are relatively undiscovered stretches of the trail. My favorite is a wonderful, less-traveled stretch of trail that starts in Dutzow and ends in McKittrick, just across the river from Hermann. It's about a 25-mile bike ride."
Don't let the 25-mile bike ride deter you from exploring this part of the Katy Trail. Visitors can now rent Pedego bikes at the Peers Store in Marthasville. Dan's partnership with Bill and Carla Sauerwein, owners of Pedego St. Louis in Kirkwood, allows riders to explore more of the trail because the electric bikes enable them to travel farther and see more.
"The fun of the Katy Trail is exploring these old railroad towns," said Bill. "Pedego bikes have greatly expanded the number of people who can enjoy biking. The average person can now ride this stretch of the Katy Trail in a few hours. You'd have to be an accomplished cyclist to do that without an e-bike."
The Peers Store in Marthasville is a great place to start an excursion along the Katy Trail. "It's a historic general store but with all the modern conveniences: air conditioning, snacks and cold Gatorade," said Dan. "And there is plenty of information about Magnificent Missouri."
Bill said, "If you start at Peers and go west, you’ll see one of the most beautiful parts of the trail where the river, the trail, and the bluffs all come together. You are riding on America’s longest bike path between towering limestone bluffs and America’s longest river, the Missouri, for about five miles."
Dan added, "Or you could go east from Peers to a great little healthy food restaurant called The Caboose in Marthasville. It's an actual railroad caboose that is right on the Katy Trail. Ride a little farther east and you’ll be in Dutzow, where German immigration to America began in the 1820s."
"It's consistent with the Pedego culture for our customers to seek adventure and explore new places," said Bill. "That is what we are trying to accomplish by renting Pedego bikes at the Peers Store. We want to give people access to unique places to explore."
It takes about an hour to get to Peers Store from Kirkwood. "It's a beautiful drive through Washington, Missouri and along the Missouri River," said Bill. "Once you arrive at the Peers Store, you are in a completely different environment, which I think is fantastic."
"The best time of the year to explore the trail from the Peers Store is in July. The Peers Prairie is in full bloom. It's a spectacular 4-acre native prairie we planted between the Katy Trail and the Peers Store," said Dan. "People can sit on the front porch and listen to music and walk through a native Missouri prairie. And we've got live bluegrass bands playing on the front porch every Saturday and Sunday afternoon until the end of October."
It sounds like a magnificent way to spend a summer weekend.
EXPLORING THE KATY TRAIL FROM DUTZOW TO THE BLUFFS WEST OF TRELOAR
HEADING EAST FROM PEERS — You will see native Missouri River valley trees that were planted in October 2022 as part of a three-year tree-planting campaign sponsored by Magnificent Missouri and Forest ReLeaf. In the town of Marthasville you can dine at the appropriately named Caboose restaurant or Philly’s Pizza.
About 8 miles east of Peers is the Dutzow Trailhead. Along the way you’ll pass Boone Monument Village, and the original burial site of Daniel Boone who lived nearby, and the popular Lake Creek Winery.
HEADING WEST FROM PEERS — 3.5 miles west of Peers is the old railroad town of Treloar, home of the Treloar Mercantile Building and the Treloar Elevator—and the best burger on the Katy Trail at the Treloar Bar and Grill (closed on Monday and Tuesday). Also look for Missouri’s largest ear of corn in the side yard of the Treloar Mercantile—and the Trees of Treloar, a native tree planting created by Magnificent Missouri as a companion to our native prairie at Peers.
About 4 miles west of Treloar, you’ll ride through a shaded “Tunnel of Trees” and begin riding along the Missouri River. Here, the Katy Trail and tall limestone bluffs come together to create some of the best river views on the entire Trail. With some diligent searching, you also find Lost Creek winery and its views.