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Bicyclists – An Inexpensive Self-Managed Hostel on the Missouri Katy Trail

The Turner Katy Trail Shelter is a trail-side hostel located in the small town of Tebbetts, Missouri, 13-miles east of Jefferson City. It’s basically a two-story bunkhouse with bathing, sleeping, heating, air-conditioning, refrigerating, and warming-up cooking facilities. Originally, it was a popular sandwich shop whose owner donated the property to the Conservation Foundation of Missouri Charitable Trust to be used by youth groups. The conservation renovated the building, and then added the bunk beds and other accommodations (see below). Several church, scouting, and other youth groups do use the shelter annually, but not often. Thus, it’s open to all trail-users on a first-come first-serve basis when it’s not reserved by a group beforehand. For $5 a day, a guest will have cheap lodging on a rail-to-trail that’s free to the public to start with.


  • Outside bike rack, deck-covered front porch, outside picnic tables, and bright streetlight.
  • Front-door key is kept on a nearby utility pole for easy access.
  • Utilities: electricity, lights, furnace, window air-conditioners, hot water, fans, clock.
  • Double bunks with firm foam mattresses; 11 downstairs, 8 upstairs plus extra floor space.
  • Large wardrobe lockers: kept against the walls between the bunks.
  • Large restroom with dual hand sinks and two enclosed flush toilets.
  • Shower room: two individual stall-showers (separate from the restroom).
  • Kitchen/dining: locker-pantry holding paper and plastic wares, and leftover snack food; electric coffee maker; refrigerator/freezer with ice-cube trays; microwave; single hot plate; large wooden picnic table. Note: the large vehicle-supported groups staying there will cook outside by using their camp stoves or similar gear.
  • Bicycle room with tools: accessible both from the inside and outside. The bicycles can be brought inside there.
  • Notebook-logs for registering-in, or for making comments.
  • Entertainment: two parlor games; ping pong table (upstairs); several magazines, nature-wildlife pamphlets, and various brochures. Local saloon or bar-grill nearby.
  • Small store across the street when open and convenience store one-third-mile west on Route-94: cold/hot snacks and sundries.


The directions for using the shelter are well posted inside together with addressed envelopes for payment. The postage is free if dropped into the outside mailbox two doors down across the street to the east. Its daily fee: $5/each for individuals or drop-by’s; $20 for groups up to 40 plus $1 for each person in the group. It’s closed from December 1st to March 1st; that is, the water and furnace are turned off then.

This shelter is a proven asset to the trail. Many users have found protection from rain or wind storms there, often not knowing it existed until someone pointed it out to them. Other users stop there to cool off or to use its facilities with or without staying the night. Cross-country and end-to-end trail riders spend the night there to save a few lodging bucks during the busy riding seasons. Still others like to socialize with those stopping or staying there.

The guests themselves and other volunteers clean the shelter, and do some of the upkeep. They leave things behind for others to use, like, soap bars and a towel or two, and occasional snack food, like, chips, cookies, coffee grounds, and opened packages of hotdogs, luncheon meat, bread/buns, and cheese slices. Basically, the guests must furnish their own bedding, toiletries, towels, food, and chastity/self-protection devices (e.g., pepper spray) although not necessary among most guests. Drop-by’s are limited to a one-night stay as the weather and other reasons permit it.

Large private groups, who have reserved it beforehand, generally want to keep it for themselves while occupying it. That’s especially true if it’s a youth group, although bad weather could be a factor for sharing it with other responsible trail-users then. Otherwise, it’s first-come first-served until it’s full, which seldom happens.

The shelter’s large size augments sharing it in a responsible manner. The guests, often strangers to one another, practice common hostel courtesies, like, exchanging basic information, looking out for one another, e.g., guarding the shower-or-bathroom doors between the sexes, and keeping quiet. Most nighttime guests are tired, and want to rest before the next day’s venture. The two floor levels plus an extra small room upstairs offer limited privacy as do the separated restroom and showers. Also, the main front door can be double locked from the inside with a chain guard.

The shelter welcomes tax-deductible donations and volunteer work. In addition to cash, it could use the following things over extended periods of use:

  1. spot checks or repairs on the air conditioners, furnace, refrigerator, lights, and other kinds of general upkeep  
  2. opaque shower curtains, old towels, old blankets or sleeping bags
  3. shelves for small appliances, books, magazines, radio, TV
  4. more straight chairs
  5. latches on certain inside doors
  6. space heater (for single or small number of occupants during cool weather)
  7. outside hydrant with hose
  8. deep utility sink
  9. clothes dryer
  10. outside staircase to the upper deck


The bicycle room or the restroom/water-heater room each has enough space to add a utility sink and small clothes dryer. These two items could help guests coming in from stormy or wet weather by allowing them to wash and dry their clothing and other gear rapidly.

Another benefit that often comes with the shelter is a large friendly dog that sleeps on the front porch. He makes great company, and is a dependable night watchman.

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