Jeff Morasco, 2014-03-08 05:42:58
Hello, I am moving to Lawrence this summer and have enjoyed biking on the Katy Trail in Missouri. I am looking forward to riding on the Prairie Spirit as well as doing the ride from Lawrence to the trail head.

I have ridden on the Katy with both a hybrid and a road bike. It also is a crushed limestone surface and I have had no problems with 23 mm tires. I realize that conditions vary but in general and in the summer the Katy has a pretty uniform and predictable hard surface. How does the Prairie Spirit Trail surface compare to the Katy and what is the recommendation for bikes and tire width in good conditions?

Horses are allowed on a few parts of the Katy. Are there areas where horses share the Prairie Spirit Trail? No problems?

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

my_bicycle_saved_me, 2014-03-19 11:31:38
I’ve ridden on both trails several times.

The Katy definitely has a much firmer, finer, and more consistent surface than the PST. I’ve described the Katy as being like “concrete [not asphalt] covered with a thin layer of sand”. Not perfect but fairly accurate. PST isn’t like that. The surface is a lot more course, slightly more bumpy.

The grades on both trails are fairly comparable.

I’ve ridden as narrow as 28’s on the Prairie Spirit without any issue at all. I’ve ridden both hybrids and road bikes on there. I’ve ridden hybrids fully loaded with rack & panniers, and with no load. All with no issues.

While *I* haven’t ridden 23s on there and wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so, I know that some folks have, without issues. I tend to think the gravel is just a bit too “course” + loose – plus the occasional rut/crack – that wouldn’t make me feel comfortable riding 23s. Also, the occasional spot, especially around Welda area, is almost “sandy”, with somewhat deeper layering – I am sketchy riding through this in the *28’s*, let alone 23’s. I’d, personally, recommend 28’s or larger.

I’ve never seen horses on the PS Trail and am almost certain they aren’t allowed. I’ve been on the trail dozens of times, never seen horses and never seen their “calling cards”. I would assume you won’t be sharing the trail with horses.

Enjoy your ride, and hope to see you out there!

rebelLT, 2014-03-19 19:19:17
I have also rode both, though I tour on an old 26″ Schwinn Cimarron with big low presure tires. I find that the Iola to Garnett part of the trail has rougher gravel and would be harder to ride with a smaller tire. North of Garnett I find the trail more compact and easier to ride. I would think it would be ok on a smaller tire. BE AWARE that these trails can produce long DEEP cracks during dry, hot months that can trap a bike tire and stop you forward motion FAST! I have never seen this on the katy. If you have never seen it beware of the condition and check the trail conditions before you ride. Also, you can ride another trail from Ottowa to Oswotamie (SP! whatever). I like that trail, though it had some killer cracks at the end of last year.
Jeff Morasco, 2014-03-22 01:02:55
Thanks for the replies. I think I will just ride the hybrid with 28s on the first ride there.

There are some bike eating cracks late in the summer on the Katy as well. They run length wise and I think tend to be in the center. Since I do a long ride on the Katy in the fall, they can be partially covered with leaves which adds to the problem.

Timon of Athens, 2014-03-25 13:58:50
The cracks on the PST tend to be the same, showing up in late summer after long periods of very hot weather.
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