Les Bourgeois Winery and Vineyards is next to the cross-state Katy Trail, but since the first grapes were planted in 1982, visitors have not been able to get to the winery directly from the trail.
The terrain leading up to the vineyards and restaurant has been too rough and steep, and trail users have had to go an extra two miles to get to the winery.
This fall, the winery plans to open a new trail that will give visitors to the winery a direct route to and from Katy Trail State Park.
“We’ve had a lot of people asking if there was any other way to get back to the trail,” said the winery’s founder, Curtis Bourgeois. Although the new trail is too steep to bike up, the walk up is much easier and the trail is wide enough for at least two people. The trail is graveled, clean and easy to use, even for visitors who are dressed up for dinner.
The trail, named Terry’s Trail, was the idea and creation of the winery’s groundskeeper, Terry Roark.
Two years ago, Roark thought up the idea to build the trail and make the winery more accessible. He has since been carving out this stretch of land by himself.
Roark has used the simplest of tools: shovels, picks, chisels and sledgehammers. He is on his third wheelbarrow. He said the only power tool he’s used on the project was a chainsaw.
While building the trail, Roark has had to re-route water runoffs by using cement in some places and placing pipes that go under the trail in others. “I’ve had to battle the rain ever since the beginning,” he said. “I’m learning along the way.”
Another obstacle was a 10-foot drop on the route, and Roark had to bring in wheelbarrows full of dirt and rock to build the section up.
“When I wrote my master’s thesis, it was on this rock, the Burlington limestone,” Roark said. “I’ve become really intimate with it now.”
Bourgeois said he’s hoping to have Terry give tours once the trail is finished.
“Terry’s not only an expert on rocks. He knows a lot about the trees and flowers,” Bourgeois said.
Although the trail is accessible now, it ends right before the Katy Trail. Connecting Terry’s Trail with the Katy Trail still needs approval from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks.
Jim Gast, assistant superintendent for Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, said agency officials will be meeting soon to look at the plans for the actual connection of the two trails.
Gast said they will look for three specific things in the plans: that there aren’t too many trees cut down, that it doesn’t interfere with water flow and that the grade complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act where Terry’s Trail connects with the Katy Trail.
“We don’t anticipate it being a problem, but these are things we need to look at before we can approve it,” Gast said.