74 trails to hike, bike and horseback ride in the Kansas City metro

   Now that spring is in the air, Mother Nature is calling us to head outside and explore the flora and fauna all around us. This jam-packed guide of trails — from leisurely 1-mile strolls in residential Kansas to challenging journeys clear across Missouri — is a celebration of Kansas City’s biodiversity. Sure, we have plenty of world-class restaurants, museums and other urban delights; but let’s power down our smartphones, strap on our hiking boots or bicycle helmets and enjoy a simpler form of entertainment: the great outdoors!


6th Street Path

   Lawrence is not only home to the venerable University of Kansas, but also many trails, including the 6th Street Path, a concrete trail that runs along West 6th Street — also known as U.S. 40. But you’ll have no worries about traffic along the busy road because it is a side path that provides safe access to residential and commercial facilities. The trail connects to the South Lawrence Trafficway Trail on its western end.

Good to know: Dedicated parking at S. Lawrence Trafficway Trail is at the northern trailhead on N. 1750 Road.

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, walking


20th Street Trafficway Path

Leavenworth is home to this concrete path on the western side of the city, with trail endpoints at Spruce and South 20th streets, and Eisenhower Road and 20th Street Trafficway/New Lawrence Road. Cyclists, walkers and runners enjoy this side path as a commuting alternative to a busy thoroughfare.

Good to know: The trail also links residential developments to nearby stores and churches.

Distance: 3.2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, walking


79th Street Path

Lenexa’s 79th Street Path is only a mile long, with endpoints at Renner Road to just east of Woodstone Street. The east-west asphalt path connects important recreational amenities and runs through a pleasant residential area. On its western end, you can continue on the 2-mile Shawnee Mission Park Paved Trail and stroll through Shawnee Mission Park, or on its eastern end you can enter Lackman Park. If you head north along Lackman Road, you'll soon reach Lackman Road Path, which connects to more parks, shopping areas and other trails.

Good to know: Parking is available in Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road, on the trail's western end.

Distance: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, walking


95th Street Path

At only a mere half-mile, Lenexa’s 95th Street Path is a paved route that offers those who enjoy it lots to look at. It is separated from the roadway by a wide, grassy median, with residences on one side and busy shopping areas on the other. From the trail's western end at Alden Street, you can continue west along West 95th Street for a mile to reach Electric Park, which offers playgrounds, horseshoe pits and sand volleyball.

Good to know: Parking can be found a mile west of the trail in Electric Park, 9243 Loiret Blvd.

Distance: 0.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, walking


133rd Street Path

Running through Olathe, Overland Park and Leawood, this 7-mile asphalt and concrete trail constitutes four disconnected sections known as the 133rd Street Path. The trail parallels sections of 132nd and 133rd Streets, connecting nearby homes to commercial centers, parks, recreational opportunities and other public facilities.

Good to know: The trail also links to the Switzer Road Trail, the Tomahawk Creek Trail and the Nall Avenue Path in Overland Park.

Distance: 7 miles

Difficulty: easy, though long

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, walking


143rd Street Path

This asphalt and concrete path in Overland Park is a side path along West 143rd Street and offers access to the surrounding residential communities, nearby schools, religious facilities and recreational opportunities. Its endpoints are Quivira Road to just east of Nall Avenue.

Good to know: Near its western end, the trail also connects to the Switzer Road Trail.

Distance: 4.2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, walking


151st Street Path

This asphalt and concrete path’s endpoints are U.S. 169/Woodland Street and West 153rd Street in Olathe, and Hardy and West 151st streets in Overland Park. It is a side path along 151st Street and provides access to commercial centers, schools, parks, residential developments and the county airport. The path also connects to the Switzer Road Trail, Blackbob Road Trail and Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail.

Good to know: Parking for the 151st Street Path is available at Black Bob Park, 14500 W. 151st St. in Olathe.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy, though long

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, walking

Longview Trail



159th Street Path

Olathe’s 159th Street Path is just west of South Lone Elm Road and 159th Street at Chisholm Trail Middle School. The concrete path provides access to commercial, industrial and residential facilities, as well as the middle school and the Olathe District Activity Center, which serves Olathe’s public schools and features a football field, soccer fields, baseball and softball diamonds, and a running track. Toward its eastern end, the trail intersects the popular Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail.

Good to know: Parking for the 159th Street Path is at the Olathe District Activity Center, 20925 W. 159th St.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, walking


Armourdale Levee Trail

This sunny, crushed-stone trail in Kansas City, Kansas, offers an unpaved route recommended for hybrids or mountain bikes. Coming in at just a little more than a mile along the Kaw River levee River, the trail runs east from the Kansas Avenue bridge and ends at South 12th Street and Levee Road. Opening in 2014, it is also known as “Armourdale Hike and Bike Route: Island View Loop” because a river island can be seen from the pathway. With industrial views at its northern end, the trail becomes more natural farther south along the river.

Good to know: Access the trail west of 18th Street under the Kansas Avenue bridge on the north (east) bank of the river, where limited parking is available.

Distance: 1.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Identifiers: Mountain biking, walking


Blackbob Road Trail

Providing a great opportunity for local trail users, Olathe’s Blackbob Road Trail parallels Blackbob Road and connects nearby homes to schools, parks, libraries, churches and community centers. The trail also connects to the 133rd Street Path, Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail and the 151st Street Path. 

Good to know: The trail’s endpoints are West 155th Street to West 123rd Street on South Blackbob Road.

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, wheelchair accessible, walking


Blackfish Parkway Trail

Blackfish Parkway Trail lies in the southwestern corner of Shawnee, with endpoints at Lackman Road and West 76th Terrace on Blackfish Parkway. Even though it follows a major roadway, much of it is lined with mature trees and nice homes. Along the way, you can see the Shawnee Indian Prayer Wheel sculpture by the late Charles Goslin from Columbia, Missouri. From the trail's western end, you can connect to these trails: Lackman Road Path, Midland Drive Path and Little Mill Creek Trail. 
Good to know: Park at Swarner Park, 6200 Lackman Road.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, walking

Overland Park Arboretum

Overland Park Arboretum


Bluebird Trail

Bluebird Trail is only 0.3 miles long — a hiking time is a mere 10 minutes — but you’re likely to see songbirds, deer, other small mammals, frogs, turtles, snakes, colorful insects and many species of butterflies. It is part of a nearly 3-mile trail system in the Parkville Nature Sanctuary and proceeds north along White Alloe Creek from the road by the soccer field to the prairie and back. 

Good to know: Parkville Nature Sanctuary is at Missouri Highway 9 and 12th Street in Parkville.

Distance:  0.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Walking, ADA and wheelchair accessible


Blue River Parkway Trail

Touted as one of the oldest trail systems in Kansas City, the Blue River Parkway Trail features volunteer-maintained trails that offer a variety of winding slopes, rock paths and river views, which means there’s something for every kind of explorer.

Good to know: Each trail — Stonewall, Bridger, Badger, River Trail, Highwater, Basement, BoHoCa, Highline, Highline Express and Wagon —is 0.3 to 5 miles long and ranges from easy to expert in difficulty.

Distance: 18.2 miles

Difficulty: Easy, moderate and challenging

Identifiers: These trails are bike-, family- and four-legged friendly — yes, horses can come along, too.


Burroughs Creek Trail and Linear Park

This crown jewel of Lawrence’s Parks and Recreation Department is a cyclist and inline skater’s dream. Quiet, safe, scenic and wheelchair accessible, the concrete-paved trail runs from 11th to 23rd streets and connects directly to the Haskell Rail Trail, the first operational rail-trail in Kansas.

Good to know: History buffs and can explore significant landmarks along the trail thanks to the Lawrence Public Library’s “A Hike through History” walking guide.

Distance: 1.7 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Kid-friendly, pet-friendly, walking, wheelchair accessible, inline skating


Center Street Trail

Viewed as more of a side path than a trail, this short trek in Gardner, Kansas, runs parallel to North Center Street and leads into the neighboring Madison Street trail.

Good to know: The Center Street Trail is a great shortcut to Sunflower Elementary School.

Distance: 0.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Kid-friendly, cycling, walking


Clermont Nature Trail

Aside from being one of the five trails that make up the Lake Jacomo trails, the Clermont Nature Trail is the only trail that charges admission. Accessible only through Missouri Town 1855, this 1-mile loop is a perfect accompaniment to the 19th-century lifestyle explored at the living history museum.

Good to know: Admission for Missouri Town 1855 (and the trail) is $4 for children and seniors and $7 for adults.

Distance: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Kid-friendly, walking, running


Clinton North Shore Trails

The Clinton North Shore Trails, also known as the Clinton Lake Trails, comprise three color-marked trails — the 7.9-mile blue trail, 12.8-mile white trail and 1.2-mile Shoreline Trail (red trail) —all with serene creek crossings, rolling hills and dirt paths just west of Lawrence, Kansas.

Good to know: Although there are park fees for driving access, lake access and camping, the trail head for hiking and biking is free.

Distance: 25 miles

Difficulty: Easy, moderate, challenging

Identifiers: Hiking, biking, walking, running


Eastbrooke Trail

Starting in the north and journeying south, the Eastbrooke Trail serves as a link between the 133rd Street Path and the popular Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail in Olathe. Though short, it features a pleasantly wooded corridor and many access points for residents to hop on. At its end, you’ll find Eastbrooke Park, which is home to a water fountain, playground and picnic shelter.

Good to know: There is no dedicated parking for the trail. Be on the lookout for warnings and signs while finding on-street parking.

Distance: 1.9 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Kid-friendly, biking, walking, inline skating

Ernie Miller Nature Center

ernie miller nature center


Ernie Miller Nature Center

This popular Olathe park and nature center is home to several self-guided trails, all of which are color-coordinated. Take the day to indulge in tallgrass prairies, upland meadows, bottomland forest and a babbling stream.

Good to know: No bikes or pets are allowed.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Identifiers: Kid-friendly, hiking, walking


Flint Hills Nature Trail

As its name suggests, this vast east-west trail crosses paths with the beautiful and breathtaking Flint Hills, but that’s not all that can be seen. Stretching 117 miles long, the Flint Hills Nature Trail is the longest trail in the Sunflower State and the seventh longest rail-trail in the U.S. Within the trail are the developed Osawatomie to Ottawa (18.9 miles), Vassar to Osage City (11.1 miles) and Osage City to Council Grove (39.7) trails, which are a source of stunning views like the bluffs of the Marais De Cygne River and national historic sites like the Allegawaho Memorial Park that used to serve the Kaw Indian reservation.

Good to know: Though 117 miles long, only 69 miles have been developed. Explore with caution.

Distance: 117 miles

Difficulty: Moderate, challenging

Identifiers: Cycling, walking, running, horseback riding, cross-country skiing


Fox Hollow Trail

Tucked behind one of Missouri’s largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities, Lakeside Nature Center, you’ll find this hidden valley just waiting to be explored. Here you’ll find massive rock formations, wetland wildlife, a small creek and foliage in bloom on dirt and rock trails that loops through the woods and back to the nature center.

Good to know: Parking can be found at the Lakeside Nature Center.

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Pet-friendly, hiking, walking


Gardner Greenway Corridor

This looped walking trail serves as a go-between for Gardner’s Winwood and Brookside parks. Dense woodlands and wildflowers run parallel to the trail, making it an ideal spot for quiet strolls and peaceful jogs.

Good to know: The corridor was specifically designed with those with disabilities in mind. Benches along the trail allow for breaks or to simply enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

Distance: 1.6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, walking, inline skating, wheelchair accessible


Gary L. Haller Trail

You can’t beat the scenic views you’ll encounter — the Kansas River, Mill Creek, trains, beautiful terrain and Instagram-worthy bridges and tunnels — while running, biking and trekking along this dedicated paved pathway within Mill Creek Streamway Park. The multi-use trail extends from the Kansas River at Nelson Island south to Olathe, with passes through Shawnee and Lenexa.

Good to know: About four miles of trail are designated for equestrians. You’ll also find shelters, picnic areas, drinking fountains, playgrounds and restrooms along the way.

Distance: 17 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Identifiers: Walking, running, mountain biking, inline skating, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, wheelchair accessible


George Latham Hiking Trail

The George Latham hiking trail can be found along the outskirts of Lawrence in Woodridge Primitive Camping Area on the western side of the Clinton Lake. Featuring winding but easy paths that sometimes near the water’s edge and no-fee camping space, one would be smart to have a camera at the ready; the scenery and views can be stunning.

Good to know: Be sure to stay on the marked trail. Off-trail adventures might lead to dangerous obstacles and contribute to erosion.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Hiking, walking, pet-friendly


Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail

Perhaps one of the most well-known trails in Kansas City, the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail is a go-to for runners and walkers because of its flat path that winds through south Plaza (and along the former Country Club Trolley Line), Brookside and Waldo.

Good to know: This trail is broken up by traffic lights, so be vigilant of cars.

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Cycling, walking, running, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, pet-friendly


Haskell Rail-Trail

Billed as the first operational rail-trail in Kansas, the Haskell Rail-Trail spans the eastern edge of Haskell Indian Nations University’s campus in Lawrence. The surface of the trail is crushed limestone, with plans to pave it in the future. In the north, Haskell Rail-Trail connects to Burroughs Creek Trail, 1.7 miles of paved trail that runs along an abandoned rail corridor just west of Haskell Avenue.

Distance: 1.06 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to Know: Parking is available on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus off North Perimeter Road and at the Burroughs Creek Trail connection.

Identifiers: Biking, walking, cross country skiing

Overland Park Arboretum

overland park arboretum


Indian Creek Trail

This asphalt and concrete trail links two states, four communities and many parks along Indian Creek.  The trail winds through a variety of scenery, from heavily wooded areas to sunny bridges, highway underpasses and urban environments. The trail is level and mostly flat, with a few sharper inclines in certain areas. The trail is approximately 10 feet wide.

Distance: 17-plus miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Identifiers: Inline skating, cycling, walking, wheelchair accessible

Good to know: Indian Creek Bike Trail has many parks and playgrounds along the way, making it perfect for families with children and dogs. Parking is available at several locations, including Leawood City Park on Lee Boulevard, Foxhill North Park on Indian Creek Parkway and Roe Park on Roe Avenue.


Lackman Road Path

This residential path is a straight, level shot along Lackman Road through Shawnee and is perfect for a quick family stroll or bike ride. Extend your walk or ride by hopping on the Midland Drive Path heading west or the Blackfish Parkway Trail heading east.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Lackman Road Path begins across from Swarner Park, which has a playground, a fishing pond, a skate park and sports fields. Parking is available at the north end of the trail on the north side of 63rd Street, where Swarner Park is.

Identifiers: Biking, walking


Lawrence Levee Trail

The Lawrence Levee Trail runs along the top of the flood-control levee on the outskirts of Lawrence, Kansas, on the north bank of the Kansas River. Enjoy views of downtown Lawrence on the opposite bank, along with nearby farmland. The trail leads to Riverfront Park, which has a disc golf course, an off-leash dog park, and a wildlife and native grass preserve. Various hiking and mountain bike trails run adjacent to the Kansas River.

Distance: 9.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Identifiers: Mountain biking, walking, pet-friendly

Good to know: Parking is available at Riverfront Park or at a small lot at the southern end of North Eighth Street.


Legacy Park Trail

Legacy Park Trail circles Community Park in Lee’s Summit. The 692-acre park has three shelters, a 22-acre lake, playgrounds, a fishing dock, athletic fields and more. The main trail creates a 4-mile loop around the park. Two subloops, the Picnic Trail Loop and the Lake Trail Loop, are much shorter journeys through the park.

Distance: 5.6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Parking is available at various playgrounds throughout Lee’s Summit’s Community Park. Bring a hat and wear sunscreen; this trail is not heavily shaded.

Identifiers: Cycling, walking, wheelchair accessible


Little Blue Trace Trail

Jackson County and the City of Independence, Missouri, unveiled a 3.5-mile extension of the Little Blue Trace Trail in June 2011. The extension runs under Interstates 70 and 470, creating access to the trail for communities west of Interstate 470. Residents in that area can use the trail to access offices, shops and restaurants east of Interstate 470. New amenities along Little Blue Trace include benches, picnic tables, mileage markers and renovated shelters. Encounter wildlife like turkey, deer and geese as you cross railroads and rivers, and enjoy the abundance of trees and farmland.

Distance: 15 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Parking is available at the Ripley Junction shelter just south of U.S. Highway 24 at Bundschu Road, at the M-78 shelter just west of Highway 7 and north of Route 78 and limited parking along Necessary Road north of R.D. Mize Road.

Identifiers: Running, cycling, walking


Line Creek Trail

This wide, concrete trail is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city traffic. Small waterfalls attract walkers looking to enjoy the wonders of nature. Mature trees shade the path and keep you cool, even on the hottest of summer days. Take a ride on the KC Northern Miniature Railroad, which operates two restored Miniature Train Company trains and one Allen Herschell G-16 train on a half-mile track at Frank Vaydik Park.

Distance: 7.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Parking is available at North Gower Avenue near Northwest Waukomis Drive, Line Creek Community Center and Renner Brenner Park in Riverside

Identifiers: Inline skating, cycling, wheelchair accessible, walking


Little Mill Creek Trail

Little Mill Creek Trail winds through a woodsy route through Lenexa. It begins at Blackfish Parkway Trail, where it soon reaches a fork in the path. Head west on the trail to end up at Lackman Park, or continue southeast toward Little Mill Creek North Park. The trail ends at 87th Street Parkway in a residential area, but if you cross the street and enter Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park, you’ll find a lake, a playground, picnic tables, restrooms, athletic fields and a skate park. The park also houses the Legler Barn Historical Museum, which highlights the history of the region.

Distance: 2.2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Parking is available at Little Mill Creek North Park, Little Mill Creek South Park and Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, walking


Madison Street Trail

This 1-mile trail in Gardner, Kansas, is an easy stroll through the southern edge of the metro. The trail is near Gardner Edgerton High School on the western end. Its smooth pavement makes it a kid-friendly path that easily accommodates strollers and leashed dogs in a safe neighborhood environment.

Distance: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Parking is available on residential streets along the trail.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, wheelchair accessible, walking


Mahaffie Creek Trail

This well-shaded route through suburban Olathe connects to Mill Creek Streamway Park, schools and the city’s northern neighborhoods. The Mahaffie Farm, a historical building that once served as a stagecoach station and is now a museum, is less than half a mile from the trail. For a longer journey, continue on the Gary L. Haller National Recreation Trail for an additional 17 miles.

Distance: 1.7 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Parking is available at Mill Creek Streamway Park, Mahaffie Elementary School, and Olathe North High School.

Identifiers: Cycling, walking, inline skating


Maurer Road Path

This little stretch of trail parallels its namesake road in Shawnee. The north-south route winds through residential and shopping areas and meets the east-west Midland Drive path at its southern end. Take the neighborhood sidewalks east at 61st Street to reach Swarner Park, which has athletic fields, picnic tables, a playground, a fishing pond and a skate park. To extend your journey, hop on the Lackman Road Path and head south.

Distance: 1.6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Parking is available at Swarner Park.

Identifiers: Cycling, walking


Rock Creek Trail

The Rock Creek Trail links Country Club Park and Rotary Park on the west side of Independence. This easy walking trail offers incredible views of the tree-lined creek that it follows and crosses several times. Between the parks, the trail becomes crushed stone; inside each park, the trail is paved. On the north end of the trail, Rotary Park offers picnic areas, restrooms, a playground and a sprayground in the summer. The trail’s end points are Rotary Park at South Westport Road and East 24th St. and Country Club Park at South Norton Avenue.

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Best parking is on the north end of the trail at Rotary Park.

Identifiers: Kid-friendly, pet-friendly, cycling, walking


Rock Island Spur of Katy Trail State Park

Late last year marked the opening of the Rock Island Spur of the Katy Trail — finally connecting the Kansas City area with Missouri’s world-renowned Katy Trail. The trail’s new addition stretches through the heart of west-central Missouri, providing adventure for those craving an experience with nature while at the same time getting a taste of rural Missouri history. The well-compacted, crushed limestone trail can be picked up approximately 45 minutes south of Kansas City near downtown Pleasant Hill. The scenic path that follows the Rock Island Spur line travels through wetlands, woodlands and open fields. At either end are two towns oozing with charm and hospitality: Windsor and Pleasant Hill.

Distance: 47.5 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Good to know: Traveling from Pleasant Hill to Windsor, you can seamlessly continue onto the Katy Trail, which spans nearly the entire state of Missouri.

Identifiers: Cycling, hiking, horseback riding, walking, wheelchair accessible


Route 152 Trail

The Route 152 Trail is an important connector in Kansas City. The paved pathway begins at Line Creek Trail and heads west, paralleling its namesake roadway across town. Despite its proximity to Route 152, the trail is separated from the road by a wide median full of trees in several places. For much of its length, the pathway winds through residential neighborhoods.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Good to know: Creative parking techniques required. There are no parking facilities available.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, walking, wheelchair accessible


South Lawrence Trafficway Trail

The South Lawrence Trafficway Trail loosely follows the S. Lawrence Trafficway, also known as State Route 10, on the outskirts of Lawrence, Kansas. The trail passes newer residential developments, parks and farmland. From the 31st Street Path near Louisiana Street and the Baker Wetlands, the trail meanders west toward Clinton Lake, then north to Rock Chalk Park and continues toward the Turnpike on the west side of Lawrence.

Distance: 9.1 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: A portion of the trail winds through the Clinton Lake emergency spillway, a deep gorge cut into the rolling landscape.

Identifiers: Cycling, hiking, inline skating


Shawnee Mission Park (SMP) Paved Trail

Within Lenexa’s Shawnee Mission Park is the SMP Paved Trail, which is a pleasant way for park visitors to experience the area’s natural beauty without the need of a car. The trail provides access to many of the park’s features, including Shawnee Mission Lake. At the west end, the SMP Paved Trail connects to the Mill Creek Streamway Park Trail. In the east, the trail connects to the 79th Street Path.

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Most of the trail is paved with asphalt.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, walking, wheelchair accessible


Shawnee Mission Parkway Trail

The Shawnee Mission Parkway Trail runs for 2 miles along the south side of the roadway. While not so scenic, the paved route offers connections to restaurants, shops and offices in Merriam. From the trail’s western end, you can head south along Antioch Road to reach Antioch Park in less than half a mile. The park offers picnic tables, grills, a playground, restrooms, and basketball and tennis courts.

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: The best parking is on the trail’s western end at the Merriam Visitors Bureau, 6304  E. Frontage Road.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, walking


Switzer Road Trail

The Switzer Road Trail runs from 133rd and Switzer roads to 151st and Switzer roads. It is an important artery for the area as it connects to the 133rd Street Path, 143rd Street Path, 151st Street Path and Tomahawk Creek Trail. It leads to Switzer Park and the Overland Park Soccer Complex.

Distance: 2.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: The trail is a safe route for Blue Valley Northwest High School students.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, walking


Swope Park Mountain Bike Trail

This longer trail system in Swope Park is how hikers and cyclists can experience nature that’s both rugged and civilized. The area features rolling contours on the north side and limestone bluff to the south. Access the trail off Oldham Road in Swope Park. The system is still undergoing additions through a series of phases, which will add mileage within the park and will eventually connect to the Blue River Parkway Trail system.

Distance: 13.5 miles

Difficulty: Challenging

Good to know: Count on drops, ledges, rock gardens and technical lines throughout.

Identifiers: Mountain biking, hiking


Tomahawk Creek Trail

This trail follows along its namesake waterway through Overland Park and Leawood, connecting with several other trails, including the Indian Creek Trail, the Switzer Road Trail and the Nall Avenue Path. At times, it meanders through neighborhoods, then densely wooded areas. The path is generally a level, paved, 10-foot-wide trail dotted with wooden bridges and mile markers every half mile. It is well-traveled by friendly locals, so it’s moderately busy.

Distance: 17 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Be prepared for sludge. Some areas can become especially muddy after a rainstorm.

Identifiers: Cycling, walking, pet-friendly


Turkey Creek Streamway Trail

This paved, multi-use trail runs from 75th Street near Interstate 35 to Antioch Road. It follows the path of Turkey Creek and passes through wooded areas, a butterfly garden and several parks. There are many paved parking and access points provided at the 75th Street entrance, Chatlain Park, Campbell Park, Merriam Marketplace, Werner Park and Waterfall Park.

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Water fountains are available at Chatlain Park, the Merriam Farmer's Marketplace and at Waterfalls Park.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, mountain biking, walking, pet-friendly, wheelchair accessible


Urban Trail (St. Joseph Trail System)

Providing many access points throughout the city of St. Joseph, Missouri, the scenic Urban Trail includes greenways and bike-friendly streets. Sidewalks are available where the trail is either incomplete or not available.

Distance: 16.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Good to know: You can fish at the Corby Pond or access King Hill (just off the trail) where you can stand where Chief White Cloud stood in the 1830s.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, walking, cross-country skiing, wheelchair accessible


West Santa Fe Street Path

Passing through suburban Olathe, the West Santa Fe Street Path connects neighborhoods, retail centers and parks. Near its midpoint, the trail links directly to the Rolling Ridge Trail and continues west toward Lake Olathe.

Distance: 2.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: The trail also provides access to Calamity Line Park, which offers a picnic shelter, playground and loop trail.

Identifiers: Cycling, walking


Watkins Mill State Park

The Watkins Mill State Park is north of Excelsior Springs, Missouri, and features two trails. The equestrian is 3.5 miles of rugged terrain suitable for adventuresome hikers and equestrians. Two points of interest on this trail are the old schoolhouse and the Mt. Vernon church; both are on the north end of the loop. Riders can tie up their horses to walk over and take a closer look at the historic buildings, both built in the 1870s. The paved bicycle lake trail is 3.75 miles of 8-foot-wide pavement that meanders through oak-hickory woodland circles the 100-acre Williams Creek Lake.

Distance: 3.8 miles

Difficulty: Easy to challenging

Good to know: Narrow wooden bridges may be slippery when wet.

Identifiers: Cycling, inline skating, fishing, walking, horseback riding, wheelchair accessible


Weston Bluffs Trail

The Weston Bluffs Trail connects the city of Weston, Missouri, on the north side with the village of Beverly on the south, running parallel to the Missouri River and Burlington Northern Railway. The north half of the trail is paved with asphalt, and the southern half is fine gravel surface. It is generally flat throughout with gentle grades and changes in elevation. It is a popular trail for hikers and cyclists looking for a non-strenuous outing with beautiful views and opportunities for shopping and dining in Weston.

Distance 3.25 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Along the way, see occasional glimpses of the mighty Missouri River, migrating birds and waterfowl.

Identifiers: Cycling, hiking


White Tail Trail

White Tail Trail encompasses several connecting trails. The White Tail Loop is a 1.3-mile jaunt through an urban forest. It travels a steep hillside along a forested ravine and loops down an old logging road. Wildlife is plentiful in this area. The White Alloe Creek Conservation Area is adjoined by the Parkville Nature Sanctuary. Four short loops ranging from .1 mile to .9 miles in length are found in the Sanctuary.

Distance: 2.8 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: Highlights between the sites include a waterfall, several streams and a shelter built on the foundation of an old Girl Scout cabin.

Identifiers: Walking


Essentials for a Safe Adventure

The Wilderness Society is the leading American conservation organization working to protect our nation’s shared wildlands. Since 1935, the Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect nearly 110 million acres of wilderness in 44 states. Its mission is to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places.

Below, the Wilderness Society offers some safety tips to follow while exploring the great outdoors.

  • Avoid emergencies by having the tools you need to turn the unexpected into an exciting part of your journey. 
  • Carry a map and compass and know how to use them.
  • Bring a pocket knife, and put fire-starting supplies in a waterproof container.
  • Assume the weather will change — bring sun protection, rain gear and extra layers for sudden cold.
  • Pack extra food and water.
  • Don’t forget to tuck in a whistle and a first aid kit.
  • Bring a headlamp in case your hike takes longer than you’d planned.


Day Hiking

Enjoy the refreshment of the wilderness (and prepare and train for longer hikes) with planned day trips.

  • Always check the weather to avoid afternoon rainstorms.
  • You will have better odds of spotting wildlife by starting before dawn.
  • Avoid the crowds by exploring the lesser-known trails in designated wilderness or road-less areas.
  • Make sure you pack or have the right shoes for the right occasion. Outdoor retailers have experienced staff who can help you find the right fit; their advice can mean the difference between a wonderful walk in the wild and a day of pain, aches and blisters.

Night Hiking

  • Use a headlamp or allow your eyes to adjust naturally.
  • Bring a pair of goggles or glasses to help protect your eyes from the swat of an unseen branch.
  • As the air cools, you’ll be glad for extra layers of non-cotton, quick-drying, wicking clothing.
  • Assume your footing is unstable; walk with a more careful gait — place your foot and test the feel before transferring your weight.  It’s slower than your usual hiking stride, but you’ll avoid a turned ankle — and you’ll hear the night sounds all around you when you take your time.

Hiking with Kids

Hiking with your children is a great way to get them connected to the outdoors. Just remember to keep the goals easy. 

  • Start with short hikes that feature a goal — the waterfall you came to see, the lake where you can wade and play.
  • Plan to take a lot of extra time. If you don’t reach your goal because the kids want to explore under every leaf, then that’s a good hike, too. With children, it’s about the journey, not the destination. 

Hiking with Dogs

  • Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations, and ensure those identification tags are firm on the collar.
  • Remember that dogs need to train and condition for longer hikes, too, so don’t forget to bring them along on your short day trips.
  • With a special pack and time to get used to it, your dog can carry his or her own provisions.
  • Do a thorough health check at the end of each day, and include canine-friendly supplies in your first aid kit.
  • Always check the trail rules before you go; you don’t want your dog harassing wildlife. National Park trails do not allow dogs, while other public lands simply require dogs to be on a leash.

Leave no trace

  • Collect all your trash.  In fact, collect everyone’s trash.  Make it your goal to leave a trail more pristine than you found it.
  • Take gallon zip-top plastic bags for day hikes; more refuse supplies for longer journeys.
  • Stay on designated trails. Protect our natural world by leaving only footprints, taking only pictures.
Categories: Best of KC, Best of KC 2019, Health & Wellness, Healthy Living, Outdoors, Travel