Senator David Pearce’s Capitol Report for the Week of Aug. 29: Rock Island Trail Opening Soon

Pearce Capitol Report 2016

As residents of the 21st Senatorial District, we are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful areas of Missouri. Our region offers numerous options for outdoor recreation, such as biking the historic Katy Trail, hiking through one of our many state parks and reserves and fishing in the Missouri river and surrounding lakes. Recently, I had the opportunity to be joined by several others in viewing the progress that has been made on the newest state park project, which will soon be available for exploration by nature lovers from the 21st District and beyond.


Extending from Windsor to Pleasant Hill, Rock Island Trail State Park is a brand new 47.5-mile-long hiking and biking path in our district that is nearing the end of construction. What is particularly special about this latest rails-to-trails project is that it joins up with the existing Katy Trail in Windsor, providing outdoor enthusiasts with seamless access to the 240-mile-long, nationally recognized trail. The Katy Trail attracts roughly 400,000 visitors annually from throughout the United States, with some even traveling from outside the country.

While certain segments appear to be open for use, portions of the Rock Island Trail State Park are on pace to officially open later this year. When it does, avid hikers and cyclists are not the only visitors who will be clamoring to go, as the Rock Island Trail was designed to allow for equestrian use and will be equipped with hitching posts and mounting blocks to allow easier access onto horses.

During the recent tour of the trailheads in Windsor, Leeton and Chilhowee, I was joined by several representatives from Missouri State Parks (MSP), MSP Director Bill Bryan, as well as local officials from all three communities, including: Kim Henderson, Windsor city administrator; Taylor Elwell, mayor of Leeton; and Jack Campbell, mayor of Chilhowee. I cannot begin to express how excited everyone is about the opening of the Rock Island Trail and the new trailheads that are sure to attract thousands of visitors to their communities. Considering one economic impact report found that annual spending by Katy Trail visitors adds approximately $8.2 million in value to local trail communities, it is an understatement to say the Rock Island Trail is a huge opportunity for these small Missouri towns.

While not all amenities may be available in time for Rock Island Trail’s grand opening, the goal is for trailheads to one day soon be equipped with restrooms, information kiosks and benches or tables, with each trailhead parking lot able to accommodate horse trailers. The towns of Chilhowee, Leeton and Windsor are also working hard to make improvements that will complement MSP efforts. They have plans to update their city park facilities and create clean and inviting campgrounds and shelter houses that Rock Island Trail visitors will be able to access simply by stepping off the trail. I would like to encourage area residents to check with your local officials and see if there is anything you can do to help your town maximize this incredible opportunity.

Here in Missouri, we are fortunate to be represented by a Legislature that places a premium on preserving and maintaining our natural spaces. The Rock Island Trail State Park project is set to receive $4.6 million in state funding for Fiscal Year 2017. Although appropriating funding for our state park system is an important task for the Legislature, it is just as critical for Missouri citizens and the private sector to do whatever they can to support and promote our parks and unique projects like the Rock Island Trail. For more information on the Rock Island Trail, please visit

As always, please feel free to contact me or my staff with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and trying to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 866-277-0882 (toll-free) or (573) 751-2272, or by fax at (573) 526-7381.

Senator David Pearce serves Caldwell, Carroll, Howard, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Ray and Saline counties in the 21st State Senatorial District.