• MKT Trail Young Cyclists
  • MKT Trail Bridge
  • MKT Trail Cyclists on Bridge 11
  • MKT Runner at Mi. Marker 5.25
  • MKT Trail Mural

MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

Trail Miles: 8.9 miles, limestone (4.7 miles - City of Columbia, 4.2 miles - Boone County)

Trailheads & Connectors

(A) Jay Dix Station Park

  • Jay Dix Station Trailhead
  • Photo of Jay Dix Park entrance sign
  • Jay Dix Station Trailhead

(A) Jay Dix Station Park

Map & Address: 3725 S. Scott Blvd

3725 S. Scott Blvd

Directions Large Map

Trail: MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

Support Facilities: Parking lot

(B) MKT Trail – Scott Blvd. Access

  • MKT Scott Boulevard Access Sign

(B) MKT Trail – Scott Blvd. Access

Map & Address: 3800 S. Scott Blvd.

3800 S. Scott Blvd.

Directions Large Map

Trail: MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

Support Facilities: Drinking fountain, Parking lot, Restroom, Bike fix-it station, Information Kiosk

Maps & Documents:

MKT Scott Blvd. Access Map

These approximately 5 acres located just southeast of the intersection of the MKT Trail and Scott Blvd. have been developed into an open field that can be used as a soccer practice area. A 34-car parking lot was constructed off Scott Blvd.  to serve this area as well as providing access to the MKT Trail. The MKT Trail connects to the County’s portion of the MKT trail at this access through an underpass that leads to the west side of Scott Blvd. The County’s portion of the trail is 4.2 miles and connects to the cross-state KATY Trail.

(D) Forum Nature Area

  • Forum Boulevard MKT access

(D) Forum Nature Area

Map & Address: 2701 Forum Blvd.

2701 Forum Blvd.

Directions Large Map

Trail: MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

Support Facilities: Drinking fountain, Parking lot, Restroom

(H) Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Battle Garden

  • Fitness Stations at MLK Stadium Trailhead
  • Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Sign at Stadium Blvd.

(H) Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Battle Garden

Map & Address: 800 W. Stadium Blvd.

800 W. Stadium Blvd.

Directions Large Map

Trail: MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

Support Facilities: Drinking fountain, Parking lot, Restroom

Maps & Documents:

Map of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial at Battle Garden

(J) MKT Trail Plaza

  • MKT Stewart Plaza
  • Photo of seating area at MKT Plaza

(J) MKT Trail Plaza

Map & Address: 501 S. Providence Rd.

501 S. Providence Rd.

Directions Large Map

Trail: MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

Maps & Documents:

MKT Trail Plaza Plan Concept by HDR Engineering

The MKT Trail Plaza was constructed in 2009 and funded by GetAbout Columbia as part of the Stewart and Providence intersection improvement project. The plaza is located in a triangular green space bounded by accesses from Providence Road, Stewart Road, and the MKT Trail. A seating area with a drinking fountain and four benches that face the creek and a commemorative plaque offers an ideal place for trail users to take a rest or meet up with friends.


James T. Scott Memorial Plaque

Members of the Association of Black Graduate and Professional Students solicited donations to have a marker placed in the plaza in memory of James Scott, a 35-year-old black man who was lynched by a mob from the Stewart Road Bridge in 1923. Scott was married at the time and working as a janitor at the MU medical school when he was accused of raping the 14-year-old white daughter of an MU German professor. Mr. Scott proclaimed his innocence to the end and never received his day in court.

(K) Flat Branch Park

  • Flat Branch Park sign

(K) Flat Branch Park

Map & Address: 101 S. 4th St.

101 S. 4th St.

Directions Large Map

Trail: MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

Support Facilities: Drinking fountain, Parking, Bike fix-it station

101 S. 4th St.
(park area at 4th St. and Locust St.) – Phase I

400 Locust St.
(park area between Locust St. and Elm St.) – Phase II, Trailhead with street parking and parking lot off Elm St.

Possible expansion of Flat Branch Park – 
City Council Presentation 10-17-16

MKT Trail History

MKT Trail History

Trail: MKT Nature and Fitness Trail

The Rails-to-Trails Movement

The Rails-to-Trails movement and open space preservation began in the early 1970s when the City adopted a comprehensive greenway plan. This plan inventoried all available open spaces, concentrating on undeveloped watersheds.

The Hinkson and Flat Branch Creeks contained the right-of-way (ROW) of the 8.5 mile Missouri-Kansas-Texas (MKT) railroad line from Columbia to McBaine.

Acquisition

In 1977, MKT railroad abandoned the right of way. The following year, Columbia Parks and Recreation Department applied for and received a grant for $240,000 from the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act from the United States Department of Interior. The estimated cost to purchase and develop the land was $275,000. Columbia was one of the first 10 pilot projects in the US.

Photo of MKT railroad

Between 1979 and 1982, the City agreed to purchase the quit-claim deed from the railroad for $17,725 but the railroad only owned about 25% of the right of way. So, the City began the arduous task of buying the remaining right of way from individual landowners. This process was much more time consuming and expensive than planned. Several landowners were opposed to the project and filed suit to stop it.

The grant was renegotiated to include only the 4.3 mile section from Stewart Road to Scott’s Boulevard.

Development

The trail was developed in three phases:

Phase I

The first phase, which opened in 1982, was the 3.3 mile section from Stadium Boulevard to Scott’s Boulevard. The Stadium Boulevard site was a former City sewage treatment plant. The plant was converted to a trailhead park and site of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The plant’s control building was converted into an interpretive center managed by the Audubon Society and restrooms. In the first mile from Stadium towards Forum Boulevard, a 20-station exercise/fitness course was installed. This was funded by the Wells Fargo Gamefield Fitness Campaign.

Phase II

The second phase, which opened in 1983, was the 1.03 mile section from Stadium to Stewart and Providence Road. This section was able to be opened due to the cooperative agreement between the City and the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission. When Route 740 (Stadium) was renovated and widened, a walkway was constructed under Stadium Boulevard which provided safe passage.

Due to the potential legal problems concerning landowner rights, the trail was not officially dedicated until October 13, 1985.

Phase III

Providence Road to the intersection of Fourth and Cherry Streets, opened in 1991. This section, known as the Downtown section of the trail, is constructed entirely of concrete. The Fourth and Cherry Street site is the home of the downtown Flat Branch Park. The 1/4 acre trailhead park features the Flat Branch Creek that borders the property, as well as a gazebo, benches and tables, sidewalks, landscaping, historic markers, and greenspace. The groundbreaking ceremony took place May 6, 2000. Construction was completed in November 2001, and the dedication ceremony was on November 15, 2001.

Costs

Phases I and II, Stewart Road to Scott’s Boulevard, acquisition and development: $482,000 (approximately 70% funded by grants).

Phase III, Providence Road to 4th & Cherry Streets: $35,000.

Buffer Land Along the MKT Trail

Developers, recognizing the economic benefits of the MKT Trail began to develop home and commercial sites immediately adjacent to the MKT Trail. Since the MKT Trail is a linear 100-ft wide trail, development could literally be 50 feet from the center of the trail and be legal. Friends of the MKT Trail, a nonprofit organization, recognized the need to preserve land next to the trail, lobbied and gained support from the City to begin acquisition of buffer land.

Financing for this land acquisition was made possible by passage of a 1/4-cent sales tax in 1991. Approximately 350 acres have been acquired. Buffer land acquisition and development costs (Forum Nature Trail $50,000 and Forum parking lot enlargement $50,000) are approximately $1.5 million.

Forum Nature Area opened in fall 1996. This 2.0 mile trail was developed as part of buffer land acquisition project. It is for pedestrian traffic only. No cyclists are permitted.

MKT Designated as Millennium Trail

In 2000, thousands of trails across the country were recognized as Community Millennium Trails under the Millennium Trails initiative. The MKT Trail was officially designated as a Community Millennium Trail. A certificate of recognition signed by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was received and the trail was listed on the Millennium Trails web site and in a national trails database. Millennium Trails is a partnership among the White House Millennium Council, the Department of Transportation, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the National Endowment for the Arts and other public agencies and private organizations. The goal of Millennium Trails is the creation of a nationwide network of trails that protect the natural environment, interpret history and culture, and enhance alternative transportation, recreation and tourism.

MKT Millineum Plaque

Community Millennium Trails were recognized on National Trails Day, June 3, 2000 in a grand nationwide celebration organized by the American Hiking Society. Each year, this stirring event showcases trails and their places in our lives and communities. In 2000, it also celebrated Millennium Trails.


Trail Information

MKT Trail Map

Connectivity to MU Rec Trail and Mile Markers

Trail Guide Brochure

The MKT is Columbia's premiere trail.  It ranked second in the nation for "Best Urban Trail" in the 2016 USA Today's 10 Best Readers' Choice Awards. This 10-foot wide trail built on the old railbed of the MKT railroad begins in downtown Columbia in Flat Branch Park at 4th and Cherry Streets. The all-weather crushed limestone surface provides opportunities for walking, jogging, running, and bicycling. The City's 4.7-mile MKT links to Boone County's 4.2 miles of trail at the southwest edge of the city at Scott Blvd. (Contact Boone County at 573-886-4400 for maintenance concerns on the MKT Trail west of Scott Blvd.) The County's trail connects with the State of Missouri's Katy Trail State Park near McBaine. The distance from the start of the MKT Trail to the Katy Trail is 8.9 miles. The KATY Trail extends for over 200 miles from St. Charles in eastern Missouri to Sedalia in western Missouri.


Support Facilities

  • Fitness stations at Stadium and Forum trailheads
  • Drinking fountains - open year-round at Stadium, Forum, and Scott Blvd.
  • Playfields at Scott Blvd. Access
  • Restrooms: Stadium (Open from April 15th to October 15th), Forum (Open year round), Scott Blvd. (Open year round)
  • Bike repair station at Scott Blvd.

MKT Trail in the fall
MKT Trail in the winter
Photo of the MKT Trail in the summer

The Forum Nature Area Trail winds through 108 acres including a small demonstration wetland habitat. It reconnects to the MKT Trail near Twin Lakes Recreation Area.

Thanks to funding support from the Park Sales Tax, trail users can now travel the MKT Trail all the way to the Katy Trail without crossing a street. The trail was routed under Stewart, Providence, and Elm Streets as part of a capital improvement project completed in 2007. The year-round restrooms that the replaced port-a-pots at Forum and Scott Blvd. accesses were installed in 2008 and were also funded by the Park Sales Tax.

Photo of underpass at Elm Street
Photo of underpass at Providence Road
Photo of underpass at Stewart Road
Elm Street Underpass
Providence Road Underpass
Stewart Road Underpass

Note: Older wooden Memorial/Heritage benches between Providence Road and Forum Blvd. were replaced in 2009 with new recycled-lumber benches, as part of a bench replacement program. Click here to find out more.


MKT Trail History

Capital Improvement Projects