Quad-State Trail and Missouri Statewide Trails System updated, Version 4 - what will trails in Missouri look like in 10 years?

We first announced the Quad-State Trail Plan on this web site in 2005. At that time, we had no idea how much of the system would be built or how extensive the additions to that original vision would be in just 11 short years. 

At that time it was just a plan, a vision. Now, so much of it is reality--and much more is just within our reach.

The overall vision is an interconnected trails system that connects portions of four states, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska--though with recent additions the trails system touches Illinois as well. 

What has happened since 2005 is that basic plan has been augmented with many, many new trails and trails plans across Missouri--including the Rock Island Trail, which will combine with the Katy Trail to create a 500-mile cross-state trail loop system.

Missouri's statewide trails plan

Missouri needs, but does not yet have, a statewide trail plan. In the absence of an officially adopted statewide trail, this map has played that role over the past 11 years. If your part of the state has major trails or trail plans that are not shown here, please let me know--and we will add them.

What's new?

What's new in Version 4.0 of the Quad-State Trail and Missouri Statewide Trails Vision?

  • Communities and leaders in the greater St. Louis Region are on the verge of creating a complete, connected system of trails on both sides of the Missouri River that are tied together by no fewer than five trails-accessible Missouri River bridges from Washington, MO east to the Mississippi River. This is anchored by the Katy Trail on the north side of the Missouri River and a series of Great Rivers Greenway River Ring trails on the south side. Two trail-accessible river bridges are currently in place--I-64 and Chesterfield and Page Ave Extension at St. Charles--with one more under constructions (Hwy 47 at Washington) and two more in the works (I-70 and MO 370, both near St. Charles).
  • Potential to connect the Rock Island Trail to St. Louis County and the Missouri River Trails Complex in St Charles/St Louis Counties.
  • Potential trail or bike route connections between the Katy Trail at Hermann and Jefferson City and the Rock Island Trail to the south
  • The potential to connect Nevada to the Joplin-area trails system has become a real possibility

What's moderately new?

The most recent release of the Trails Vision in 2014 (Version 3) saw these additions:

  • Perhaps most exciting of all, extending the Katy Trail from Clinton to Nevada is a very real possibility in the next 5-10 years.  The rail line between Clinton and Nevada is still an active rail line, but the railroad runs only once a week at most. The track and bridges are deteriorating, and when a major bridge or other infrastructure update is needed, the economics of the line will almost certainly dictate abandonment rather than rebuilding.  This could easily happen in the next several years--and the city of Nevada, which has recently launched an extremely ambitious Healthy Nevada Project, supported by Cerner Corp., is certain to be interested in this key extension of the Katy Trail.

    For details, see the Katy Depot-Sedalia's summary of the MKT Railroad's history, under the "Operations Today" heading.
  • The entire Rock Island Line from Windsor (on the Katy Trail) through Versailles, Eldon, Gascondy, Belle, Owensville, Union, Labadie, and other towns has been added to our conceptual map. Trail projects are under construction in Eldon, under discussion in Owensville, and there is no reason the entire line could not be converted to a rail-trail corridor of similar scope and economic impact to the Katy Trail.  Having two statewide trails running parallel but some distance from each other across different landscapes of Missouri opens up numerous possible trail loops, tourism possibilities, and economic development possibilities.
  • Potential routes connecting Warsaw to Clinton and Sedalia have been added to the map. An "Old Hwy 65 Trail", mostly on sections of Old Hwy 65 would connect one of Missouri's best small towns for bicycling to the Katy Trail.
  • Warrensburg has recently launched a significant trail connecting the city to nearby Whiteman Air Force Base.  Could this trail eventually connect with the Katy Trail, which is not far away?
  • A Columbia-Centralia trail connect is easily possible using the right-of-way of the COLT Railroad, owned by the City of Columbia, and used for occasional rail traffic.  This would be an ideal "rails-with-trails" project.
  • The Chillicothe-Brunswick connection is easily possible using an currently unused railroad right-of-way owned by the City of Chillicothe, the Chillicothe-Brunswick Short Line.  Could that connect, somehow, to the nearby Katy Trail?
  • Work on the FLATS Trail in Kirksville is underway.

Where did we start?

The original map of the Quad-State Trail System that we posted back in 2005 looked like the image to the right. 

Since then, many new trail possibilities have emerged--and much of the original vision has become reality!

Over the years, we have posted several version of the Multi-State Trail and Missouri Statewide Trails System map and vision:

What's missing?

Large areas of the map show no trails or potential trails connections. Of course, we would like to change that!

If your part of the state has a regional trail or trail system planned, please let us know.

If no one has taken the initiative to create a regional trails vision in your part of the state, perhaps it is time for a trails champion to step forward and get that process started. Perhaps that trails champion is you? Here are some resources to get you started.


Creating a world-class bicycle, pedestrian, and trails transportation network across Missouri is one of the four major goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. Creating, promoting, and encouraging the implementation of the statewide trails vision is a vitally important part of that plan.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our Vision into reality!