369 miles of connected trail across Missouri: New Rock Island/Katy Trail Connections--Maps, routes, connections, destinations for soon-to-be-opened western end of the Rock Island Trail

With the first six miles of Jackson County's portion of the Rock Island Trail opening in June 2019--and a further 8-10 miles following in the next year or two--many people are asking how to connect Jackson County's Katy Trail in Lee's Summit and Kansas City to Missouri State Parks Rock  Island Trail and Katy Trail, which starts at Pleasant Hill.

Because you want to ride the whole Rock Island Trail, right?

Others are asking how to make a bicycle connection from Amtrak to the Rock Island Trail.

Others are asking: Now that the Katy/Rock Island Trail system reaches the edge of the Kansas City metro area, how can I ride from the trail to anywhere in the KC metro area--or to, for example, the airport?

Below are maps, routes, and files for your GPS unit that will help you bridge the gap between these trail sections and make all of those major regional connections--using trails and low-stress, low traffic routes.

On this page:

Bridging the "Greenwood Gap" from Lee's Summit to Pleasant Hill--and getting from Amtrak to the Rock Island Trail

As soon as State Parks acquired rights to build the 47-mile Rock Island Trail from Windsor (on the Katy Trail) to Pleasant Hill in 2006, and Jackson County purchased 17 miles of the Rock Island corridor in 2012, we realized there would be a gap between the two--the so-called Greenwood Gap.

Several plans are in the works to bridge the Greenwood Gap with a proper trail connection (the Rock Island Connector).

The Rock Island/Katy Connector is now open (blue). Orange opening soon!
The Rock Island/Katy Connector is now open (blue). Part of the Jackson County Rock Island (orange) will open soon. But there is a gap of about 11 miles between the two. How do you bridge it?

In the meanwhile, it is easy to bridge the gap with a ride of about 11 miles on mostly low-traffic local streets. The Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation has created this map showing options and connections for bridging that gap, as well as alternatives for bicycling from the Amtrak Station in Lee's Summit to the Rock Island Trail:

 

Route overview in RideWithGPS showing even more route options at the Rock Island Trail western terminus.

Greenwood Gap Connectors: Map details and route files for your GPS unit

The primary route from the southern end of the Jackson County Rock Island Trail (blue) to the MOPAC Trail in Pleasant Hill (orange) is 11.1 miles and is shown in green. This route is now marked on the ground in both directions with fluorescent orange arrows and initials "RI".

The map has several route options that are initially hidden. To show these options, first click the Google Maps icon to show the sidebar. Then click checkboxes to show/hide route options:

  • Lee's Summit Amtrak Station west to Rock Island Trail: Click LS Amtrak Station west to Rock Island on map above.
  • Lee's Summit Amtrak Station south to Pleasant Hill: Click LS Amtrak Station south to Pleasant Hill on map above.
  • Gravel/low-traffic option: If you want to stay out of traffic even more, you can take a lower traffic but longer route option south from Lee's Summit to Greenwood, and then very low-traffic gravel road route for several miles south of Greenwood. Click Secondary LS-PH Routes--gravel option shown in brown, alternative lower-traffic but longer route option on paved streets shown in blue.
     
  • Lee's Summit local bicycle route option: Lee's Summit has an extensive local bicycle system with paved 10-foot-wided paved pathways alongside local roads. A portion of the city bicycle route system makes a trail connection using these pathways across MO 291 to Hamblen Road. This makes a slightly longer route that may be more inviting for people uncomfortable riding in traffic. Particularly, the crossing of MO 291 is via a paved bicycle pathway on an overpass, rather then using a local road crossing of MO 291 as the other routes dos. Click Lee's Summit local bicycle route option.

Rock Island Trail - Get there from (almost) anywhere in the KC metro area via a low stress bicycle route

On RideWithGPS, we have created even more route options for connections to and from the western terminus of the Rock Island Trail:

Downloading files for your GPS unit from RideWithGPS

Download from RidewithGPS to any GPS device

Even if you don't have a RideWithGPS account, you can use these routes on RideWithGPS or download them for other devices. Instructions:

  1. Use the map above and click VIEW FULL on the route you want. Or view the master map here, click the route you want, then GO TO ROUTE.
     
  2. Click "..." next to "Send to Device".
     
  3. Then choose FIT, TCX, GPX, or other format as desired, and download. 
  4. For some advanced options you may need to sign up for a RideWithGPS account.

Print Maps/Cue sheets

If you want hardcopy maps & cue sheets--a great idea when depending on electronic devices for guidance, or riding in any remote area--you will need to create a FREE RideWithGPS account to do so. Here are the steps:

  1. Create your free RideWithGPS account
     
  2. Use the map above and click VIEW FULL on the route you want. Or view the master map for the routes (linked above) click the route you want, then GO TO ROUTE.
     
  3. Click MORE, then PRINT MAP AND CUE PDF.
    1. With a basic RideWithGPS account, you will only be able to create the cue sheet automatically. This is all you need however,
       
    2. Follow the instructions to view the cue sheet, then print the cue sheet from your browser.
       
  4. To print the map, just go to the Route Page, click FULLSCREEN, and print from your browser.
    • You can zoom in or out to get overview or detail maps
       
    • You can click SETTINGS to add or remove points of interest, mileage markers, etc
       
    • You can click MAP to select various map options (terrain, satellite, various cycle and outdoor maps, etc)
       
    • Use the normal print function from your web browser to print to save a PDF copy of the map

Our goal is to provide PDF maps and cue sheets for each segment, making them available for download. But as you can see, that is a major project! Please support our work by joining or renewing your membership so that we can complete these and other important projects!

Rock Island Trail/Katy Trail Overview & Mileage Summary (307 + 62 = 369 total miles)

Many partners and agencies across Missouri are working to make a seamless Katy Trail/Rock Island Trail system across Missouri. The complete system will be over 500 miles in length and--besides the major cross-state trail loop system created by  the Katy and Rock Island Trails--will include a large number of important local trail connects at each end and to communities along the way.

Here is an overview of the major portions of the Rock Island Trail and Katy Trail and are currently open or will be open soon:

With the Greenwood Gap connector mapped above, as of June 2019 it will be possible to ride 307 miles of connected trails that are directly part of the Katy/Rock Island system:

Katy/Rock Island Trail System
Katy Trail (MO State Parks)240 miles
Rock Island Spur (MO State Parks)47 miles
MOPAC Trail (City of Pleasant Hill)3 miles
Greenwood Connector (low traffic local streets)11 miles
Rock Island Trail (Jackson County/KCATA)

6 miles

TOTAL

307 miles

Katy/Rock Island Trail system: Major connecting trails and bridges and mileage summary (62 miles)

Because of the importance of the Katy/Rock Island Trail system, many communities along the way have worked to create trail connections to the statewide Katy/Rock Island Trail system. In addition, create safe Missouri River crossings for people who walk and bicycle has been a significant priorities of the many communities located just across the Missouri River from the Katy Trail.

Among the most significant of those trail and bridge connections:

Katy/Rock Island Significant Trail Connections and Bridges
MKT Trail, Columbia8.9 milesOpen
Jefferson City Connector, MO River Bridge2.5 milesOpen
Hermann MO River Bridge (includes 1.5 miles on shoulder of Hwy 19)2.0 milesOpen
Washington MO River Bridge & Washington Riverfront Trail (includes about 3 miles on shoulder of Hwy 94/47 or on August Bottom Road (gravel))3.5 miles trail + 3.0 mile road connectionBridge Recently Open
Hamburg Trail3.4 milesOpen
Busch Greenway4.7 milesOpen
I-64/40 MO River Bridge & Missouri Greenway, Chesterfield10.6 milesOpen
Centennial Greenway, St Charles2.0 milesOpen
Page Ave MO River Bridge & Creve Coeur Lake Trail System~11 milesOpen
Boschert Greenway, St. Charles5.4 milesOpen
MO 370 MO River crossing & Missouri Greenway, Earth City4.7 milesTrail Open, Bridge improvements underway
TOTAL61.7 miles

 

 

That means we current have 369 miles in the Katy/Rock Island Trail system in Missouri, including connected trails and a few miles of key on-road connections (mostly fairly low-traffic or otherwise reasonably bicyclie friendly) that connect nearby trails to the Katy/Rock Island system.

Of course, a major push is underway for Missouri State Parks to accept a donation from AmerenUE of 144 miles of the Rock Island corridor that will interconnect with many of these trails. Adding that 144 miles, plus about 15 additional needed connector miles to create a complete Katy/Rock Island Trail loop, brings total potential system mileage to 528 miles.

The Quad-State Trail Vision is becoming reality

All of the trails listed above are part of a much larger Quad-State Trail vision: A long-term vision for a massive, seamless, interconnected trail system linking Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois. 

For more than a decade, we have felt that the most difficult part of make the Quad State Trail Vision a reality was the connection between the Katy Trail and the Kansas City metro area.

Now that connection is a reality: Either complete and open, opening very soon, or under construction.

 Current Quad-State Trail Vision: Over 1000 miles of interconnected trail

With the most difficult piece of the Quad-State Trail complete, how long will it be before more trail connections come together?

We know many communities are already work on these connections, including many communities and agencies in the Kansas City area, the St Joseph area, and communities in Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.

Many connections already exist--for example, dozens of miles of trail connecting Kansas communities and reaching towards the KC metro area, and dozens of miles of trails and routes between St. Joseph and Omaha.

It is within our grasp to connect this into a single, unified trail system within the next decade or so.

 

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 along with major trails and trail connections like the Katy and Rock Island are a vitally important parts of that plan.

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