Probably most people who visit the Kansas City area don't have 'hike the trails' on their bucket list of things to do. But, my wife and I are not like most people, and, over the past year or so, we've incorporated, as time and weather allow, a short hike into our monthly trips to visit […]
Probably most people who visit the Kansas City area don't have 'hike the trails' on their bucket list of things to do.
But, my wife and I are not like most people, and, over the past year or so, we've incorporated, as time and weather allow, a short hike into our monthly trips to visit our church's temple in Kansas City, Missouri.
All of our hikes happened on the Kansas side of the line and were ones found in the book, Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State. The book describes the metropolitan area trails this way: 'The area has some prairie paths, but most of the trails are partly or entirely through trees Overall, the trails here are typically hidden in plain sight, and they provide an easily accessible and pleasant respite from the city.'
That description fit our experience well, and the book guided us to some natural areas which we would have never known existed otherwise.
From our first Kansas City area hike at Kill Creek Park to our final one at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, the trails of Johnson and Wynadotte counties provided a great escape from the noise and traffic of the city. In many cases, if it weren't for the sound of vehicles as trails neared roadways, you would think that you were lost within some wilderness area. far away from civilization. The trees isolated you that much.
Here's a recap of our KC hiking adventures, from start to finish, with dates included:
Kill Creek Park, Olathe, 3/3/18: this well-developed park included a hike around the lake and into the woods, where we surprised some deer.
Olathe Prairie Center, 5/9/18: managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks since 1990, this location offered well-kept trails that had excellent views of a wide-expanse of prairie. A storm lingered on the horizon but never reached where we were hiking.
Ernie Miller Park (Olathe), 8/18/18: named after the longtime columnist and editor of the Olathe Mirror, this park is located relatively close to the Olathe Prairie Center.
Wynadotte County Lake Park (Kansas City), 1/5/19: this ended up being one of our longest hikes and began in some fairly muddy terrain. We eventually found our way to the lake, where we saw thousands of snow geese on the other side. We didn't exactly end up getting lost but took a rather circuitous route back to the car.
Shawnee Mission Park (Shawnee), 3/16/19: the trails were closed here, due to recent rains. Fortunately, however, we found a paved path that ventured away from the busy lake to a bit quieter natural area. The book describes the location as 'the most visited park in Kansas.' We can attest to that, as we saw more people here than at any of the other KC-area trail locations.
Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, 5/11/19: we wish we had been able to spend more time here but didn't arrive until 6:15 p.m. (and the place closed at 7:30 p.m.). This was a wonderful place to hike, especially with the recent rains, since wood chips covered most of the trails and thus the mud. Also, you didn't have to worry about going thirsty, as water stations were placed strategically throughout the trail system. It was a beautiful place to visit that also included a sculpture garden along a less than half-mile long paved trail. Upon our visit, there was a wedding party with a live band near the visitor center, so we were able to stay a little later than closing time, since the band kept playing. This location is well worth the $3 admission charge, and we hope to return again one day.
All in all, we're thankful to have had the opportunity to hike the trails in the KC area. Our future monthly trips will be heading south to Oklahoma City, as the temple there reopens later this month. We hope to find fun trails to add to our travels in Oklahoma.