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Ian’s Ride highlights outdoor accessibility on the Katy Trail and in Missouri state parks

Screenshot 2024-06-24 at 1.28.45 PM
Ian Mackay and his friends ride down the Katy Trail at Jefferson City on Monday, June 24. 2024.


On Monday, the Missouri State Parks and outdoor accessibility advocate Ian Mackay invited trail enthusiasts to join them on the North Jefferson Trailhead of the Katy Trail, sending him off on day four of his statewide excursion.

This trek isn’t new for the seasoned outdoorsman, despite a life-changing biking accident that left Mackay quadriplegic. Piloting a Sip 'n' Puff breath-controlled electric wheelchair, he continues to explore his passions by going on organized rides and creating the non-profit Ian’s Ride in 2016.

Mackay, Missouri state representatives Bruce Sassmann and Dave Griffith and Missouri Department of Natural Resources Director Dru Buntin spoke to the audience about the history of Katy Trail State Park and hosting Mackay, a Washington state native, on his yearly trek.

"Thank you for coming to Missouri, showing off our state, and shining a light for us," Sassmann said.

Mackay picked the Katy Trail for its rail trail origins, giving it a smooth surface and easy transitions. Rail trails are made from old unused railroad beds converted to trails.

"I've been on a bunch of rail trails and, and this one is special, the surface is ideal," Mackay said. "I'm just sitting there, enjoying the natural beauty. And I'm not even paying attention to the surface."

Buntin said Missouri continues to improve its park system's accessibility. Mentioning the accessibility technology, the department has recently received that allows visitors with mobility issues to navigate both rough terrain and water.

"This year alone, we have done that with the purchase of 18 new accessible beach chairs for each of our public swim beaches in the state park system," Buntin said. "We have also added an additional three track chairs, one in each of each of our state parks and regions for guests to use."

Following the seminar, Mackay and a few fellow bikers geared up and headed down the trail to Rocheport. Mackay's group started their Katy Trail journey on Friday in Machens, Missouri. They plan on hopping on the Rock Island Trail around Windsor and continuing up to Pleasant Hill, Missouri, where they will end the adventure in Kansas City.

Katy Trail Coordinator for Missouri State Parks, Cassie Brandt, hopes Mackay's trip will give further insight for plans and updates on Missiouri's nature trails.

"We can't wait to see once he's done with it, if he has any feedback," Brandt said. "It takes an expert to tell us if there are any areas that we can improve on."

Through his organization and riding events, Mackay hopes to promote outdoor accessibility, further the availability of accessible technology and encourage support services for those with mobility impairment.

"I'm trying to demonstrate what's possible for people in wheelchairs and ensure it is a lot more fun than sitting at home watching television," Mackay said.

The mobility chairs can be reserved 48 hours in advance for select parks by calling the Missouri State Park Visitor Center at 660-259-4654.

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson City

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Marie Moyer


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