Rock Island Trail State park, a new cross-state bike trail
Tuesday Dec.15, 2021 the Missouri Department of Natural Resources took ownership of a 144 mile railroad corridor to convert it into the Rock Island Trail State Park.
The new trail will cross through communities in Central Missouri from Windsor to Beaufort. At Windsor, it will connect to 237 mile Katy Trail State park including the 47 mile Rock Island Trail spur that connects Windsor to Lee’s Summit in the Kansas City suburbs. Once completed the Rock Island and Katy Trails will form a 428 mile trail loop network that will connect communities, boost local economies, as well as increase bike and outdoor tourism.
Trailnet helped organize early efforts through its statewide collaboration: Missourians for Responsible Transportation (MRT). MRT is a partnership between the Trailnet, BikeWalk KC, LocalMotion (formerly PedNet) and Ozark Greenways focused on improving walking and biking in communities across the state.
Trailnet started meeting with partners including MMRT and Missouri State Parks in 2018 to help build a coalition to help push the trail forward. This work included vital early fundraising efforts for the trail, helping connect donors to the project and raise the initial funding to make the future rail trail possible.
This month’s news is a key step towards the creation of this new trail and state park, but it will be several years before people can ride or hike on the trail.
Missouri State Parks and Missouri Department of Natural Resources have already begun planning for construction. The trail will be completed in stages, with some sections taking a number of years and others up to a decade.
As planning and construction on the trail begins, the potential also exists to extend the trail and create more links to into the St. Louis region. This is a significant regional and statewide project with strong implications for communities across the state to be more connected through safe walking and biking infrastructure.