Day 4 Wednesday June 6
New Madrid, MO elementary school to Hickman, KY Fulton County high school 28 miles
After breakfast at the elementary school, we'll ride past the Hunter-Dawson civil war era mansion and then travel along the top of the river levee for several miles. You'll get a commanding view of the area, and time to think about what you would have seen here some 100 years ago before the river was harnessed, the trees all harvested, and the swamps converted into farmland. Our first rest stop of the day will be at the Wallace Farm headquarters. This facility was completely rebuilt after the record flood of 2011, when the original structures were inundated by water more than 10 feet deep. We'll depart the rest stop headed for our first encounter with a river ferry crossing! Upon reaching the river, you can bide your time at rest stop number two while awaiting the arrival of the ferry to take you across the river. Arriving in Kentucky, it's a short pedal around Hickman to the Fulton County High School east of town, your home for the next two nights. Since it's such a short trip today, you still have time to ride the 30 mile loop to Union City, TN, and take in the sights at the new Discovery Park science center there. Or you can just relax at the campsite and explore the offerings of Hickman! Evening meals here will be catered by Hub's restaurant. During your stay in Hickman, you'll also be able to tour the historic courthouse, including a trip all the way to the top to see the still functional 112 year old Seth Thomas clock. A visit to Kentucky Kernel Pecans is capped off with your being able to personally vacuum pack your own souvenir can of "munchin' pecans". Adult beverages will be offered each afternoon in the air conditioned confines of Hub's Restaurant, while for those with a sweet tooth, a local family offers a tour of their period home capped off with a sampling of homemade cakes! Don't eat or imbibe too much, though, as on Friday you have your choice of THREE fascinating routes to explore.......
Day 1 Sunday June 3
Sikeston YMCA to Cape Girardeau, Missouri Arena Park 56 miles
We begin our week's adventure with a stop for breakfast just down the block from the YMCA . You'll then head west out of Sikeston through the remnants of several small farming communities that went into decline when highways took over from railroads in the middle of the last century. First rest stop at around 13 miles will be courtesy of the Castor River Baptist Church. We'll proceed from there northward, eventually crossing the "Headwater Diversion Channel" at mile 42. This man-made "canal" was constructed in the 1920's to divert floodwaters coming down from the hills to the Mississippi River, thus sparing all the flat farmland you've ridden through today from periodic destructive floods. Just across the bridge, we'll start to encounter some 14 miles of the hilliest terrain of the entire tour! We'll enter the outskirts of Cape Girardeau, and wind our way to your home for the next two nights, Arena Park.
Bike tour cycling through 4 states in 6 days this June!
Day 2 Monday June 4
Layover Day-Shawnee National Forest, or Horseshoe Lake wildlife refuge, or combine both
After taking time to "fuel up" with breakfast at nearby restaurants, choose to stick around and explore the many attractions Cape has to offer, or pick from 3 routes that will take you across the Mississippi River and around our new 4th state for 2018, southern Illinois. Take a tour through the southernmost portion of Shawnee National forest; cycle around Horseshoe Lake, keeping an eye out for the wildlife, or combine the two routes into one and get a more complete view of what the area has to offer. Either route will take you by the historic 170 year old Thebes courthouse, with a commanding elevated view of the Mississippi River. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, legend has it that the jail in the basement of the building once briefly housed Dred Scott.
Cycling through the Midwest and Mississippi Valley!
Day 3 Tuesday June 5
Cape Girardeau Arena Park to New Madrid, MO elementary school 71 miles
Today we begin our longest trip of the week as we head south toward the namesake community of our tour, New Madrid. We begin in the hills, but transition back to flat river floodplain for the majority of the route. Modern agriculture will be the main sight to see today, and with only one place where bicycles can safely cross the Castor River diversion channel, the route will be similar along some of the way to the trip north to Cape on Sunday. Upon arrival in New Madrid, there will be historic sites to see and experience that are connected either with the Mississippi River, the earthquakes of 1811-1812, the Civil War, or early rural life. Depending on your interests and arrival time, tour a restored 1850's era antebellum home, a well-preserved one-room schoolhouse, the earthquake museum, or take in the views of the mighty Mississippi from an elevated observation deck. Slake your thirst with an adult beverage at the stand adjacent to the deck!
Day 5 Thursday June 7
Layover Day-Discovery Park, Columbus Belmont civil war historic site, or Reelfoot Lake loops
Option 1: Union City Discovery Park loop 34 miles
After a breakfast buffet in the high school cafeteria, time to experience the route of your choice! If you did not do so on Wednesday, you can travel a short 16 miles over some gently rolling hills to the brand-new Discovery Park in Union City. Spend several hours exploring the exhibits on history, science, and technology. Experience a simulation of the 1811-12 earthquakes from which our tour takes its name. "Immerse" yourself in the underwater aquatic life of Reelfoot Lake at the aquarium. Have lunch at the on-site restaurant. Stop in at the "Libation Station" if you're in the mood. Return to Hickman in time for the afternoon & evening activities there.
Option 2: Columbus-Belmont state park loop 51 miles
An "out and back" route northward to one of Kentucky's most popular state historic sites, location of one of the earliest battles of the Civil War. Nicknamed "The Gibraltar of the West" for its location on the river bluffs, you'll be able to tour a museum, see trenches where the troops took cover, and examine the huge anchor chain used to block boats travelling downriver, as well as many other artifacts. Check out the spectacular view of the Mississippi River, highlighting the strategic significance of the site. For lunch, there is a snack bar in the park, or a restaurant you'll pass by in the tiny hamlet of Columbus. This route has a couple of moderate hills just outside the park entrance.
Option 3: Reelfoot Lake wildlife refuge loop 61 miles
Cycle through the river floodplain past the Civil War "Battle of Island #10" marker, then through Tiptonville and around the entire periphery of Reelfoot Lake. You'll be able to stop in at the visitor center, browse the exhibits on the great earthquakes and area wildlife, or have fun paddling through the cypress trees in a kayak! Ample choices for lunch along the route-and Blue Bank restaurant and the Boathouse in Samburg both offer lakeside outdoor dining. Return to Hickman through the Samburg rest stop.
Day 6 Friday June 8
Hickman, KY Fulton County high school to YMCA in Sikeston, MO 63 miles
We start Saturday off with a short trip of about four miles to the eastern landing of the Dorena-Hickman riverboat ferry. About halfway there we'll stop off at the West Hickman Baptist Church for breakfast. Over 50 years ago, prior to the construction of the I-155 bridge at Caruthersville, there were as many as five or six ferries operating at various points along this stretch of the river. Now this is the only one that remains. The ferry can safely carry 125-150 cyclists per trip, depending on how many vehicles also wish to cross. Each round trip takes about 35-40 minutes.
Upon landing back in Missouri, the route heads north through fertile farmland. Our day's first rest stop is at the Big Oak Tree state park, which contains the last remaining section of hardwood forest that 100 years ago covered the entirety of southeastern Missouri. Within the park are several large state champion trees. Leaving the park northbound you'll soon pass the Ten Mile Pond conservation area that serves as a migratory stop each season for countless waterfowl. Rest stop two will be in the small community of Anniston, while the historic old county seat in Charleston will host you at rest stop three. As you traverse Charleston, take a look at the many well-preserved and restored century-old homes that line the streets. Westbound to Sikeston a final rest stop will be hosted by the AirEvac helicopter base, and then a short time later your tour comes to an end back at the YMCA! We hope you enjoyed your week Riding the Fault Line, and that you will share your experiences on your social media accounts and encourage others to sign up for next year!