Highway 36 Bicycle Route unveiled--St. Joseph to Hannibal, 260 miles

Northern Missouri has some amazing potential for bicycle touring. Think about miles of low-traffic roads, beautiful rural vistas, welcoming small towns, and some interesting history. 

Highway 36 Bicycle Route, St. Joseph to Hannibal
Highway 36 Bicycle Route, St. Joseph to Hannibal

But until now, the region has had no cross-state bicycle touring route identified, mapped, signed, or commonly used.

The Missouri Highway 36 Heritage Alliance wants to change that, and has worked with cyclist and author Dave Fiedler to develop a 260-mile bicycle touring route that parallels Highway 36 between St. Joseph and Chillicothe.

Today the final route and maps were officially unveiled.



East to West Routes

1 - Hannibal to Macon / 73 miles

2a - Macon to Chillicothe w/ North Loop (through Brookfield & Laclede) /
88 miles

2b - Macon to Chillicothe / 79 miles

3 - Chillicothe to St. Joseph / 84 miles

West to East Routes

1 - St. Joseph to Chillicothe / 
84 miles

2a - Chillicothe to Macon / 
79 miles

2b - Chillicothe to Macon w/ North Loop (through Brookfield & Laclede) / 
88 miles

3 - Macon to Hannibal / 73 miles

North Spur

1 - Kirksville to Callao / 34 miles


East to West Routes

This new route complements Missouri's six national bicycle routes (see map, right).  The Highway 36 route covers a new area of the state and creates connections among several of the existing national routes.  This adds up to a more comprehensive statewide bicycle route network in Missouri--one of the goals of our Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

Dave Fiedler, who led the effort to create the route, explained some of the new route's appeal: 

This is the area billed as "The Way of American Genius" due to the ties with in towns along the way with people like Mark Twain, Walt Disney, Gen John Pershing, JC Penney, Jesse James, the Pony Express and more.  The route connects a number of historic sites, points of interest, and recreational/natural attractions and stretches approximately 260 miles across northern Missouri.

You can find out more about the routes and much more about Route 36 in Missouri on the Missouri Highway 36 Heritage Alliance website.

More about the new route and the planning that went into it: 

"It's awesome that Highway 36 has an audio driving tour; it only makes sense that there would be a bike tour, too," said Dave Fiedler, who drew up the route with the help of area cycling enthusiasts. "There are so many interesting places to see along MO Highway 36, both natural and historical attractions; it's a perfect fit for bikers."

Highway 36 - photo courtesy MoDOT, FlickR website
Highway 36 - photo courtesy MoDOT, FlickR website

Fiedler points to the popularity of Missouri's Katy Trail and believes that the Highway 36 bike route could one day have the same appeal to cyclists from Missouri and beyond.

"It's got everything a biker could want," Fiedler said about the route, which generally parallels the highway on secondary state and county roads as it goes from Hannibal to St. Joe, approximately 240 miles across the state. "Beautiful scenery, low traffic and lots of fun and interesting stops along the way."

The project is a partnership with the Missouri Highway 36 Heritage Alliance, which actively promotes the region and its natural, cultural and historic attractions.  Beth Carmichael, the board member who heads up this project for the Heritage Alliance said, "We are thrilled to work on this project with Dave. He has combined his cycling experience with our Highway 36 experiences and stories!" 

In addition to learning about iconic Americans such as John "Black Jack" Pershing, J.C. Penney, Walt Disney, Mark Twain and Jesse James, all who lived along the route, you will also hear the stories that built the United States to greatness like the Pony Express, the beginning of Sliced Bread, and the development of osteopathic medicine, which all happened here in north Missouri!

"Believe it or not, there are lots of cyclists who will travel specifically to visit places like this," said Fiedler, who is among the group of four riders giving the route a final test before it is officially released and promoted. "I believe this bike route simply offers another way to highlight the terrific people and places along Missouri's Highway 36, and to draw folks who will visit and enjoy the attractions found in the towns along the way."

For more information on Missouri Highway 36 or the bike route, contact Beth Carmichael at the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau at 816-233-6688 or bcarmichael@stjomo.com. You can also visit our website www.MoHwy36.com