Hiking

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15 Best Hiking Trails in Kansas City (Walking & Biking Trails)

Explore the top 15 hiking and biking trails in Kansas City! From serene forest walks to scenic bike paths, find the perfect trail for your next outdoor adventure in this vibrant city.

Alex Frick
July 1, 2022
15 Best Hiking Trails in Kansas City (Walking & Biking Trails)

Kansas City is a charming metropolis is in beautiful eastern Missouri that is full of culture, art, and history. Known for its improvisational jazz of the 1920s and its stellar BBQ, Kansas City roots run deep.

Commonly known as the "City of Fountains", Kansas City is surrounded by stunning scenery, provided by the abundant landscape. Hidden among the prairies are gushing waterfalls -nature's fountains.

With the warm and lush conditions in this unique region of the mid-west, Kansas City is a prime location for incredible hiking trails, without venturing too far from the city.

Kansas City’s Best Hiking Trails: Which One Will You Pick?

1. White Tail Trail

Credit: Shutterstock

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head north over the Heart of America Bridge along MO-9 N for 3.0 miles. Keep left to stay on MO-9 N and drive for 6.5 miles and turn right onto MO-9. After 0.4 miles, turn right onto E 12th Street/Woodward Road, and the parking area for the hike will be on your right.

White Tail Trail is an urban forest, nestling just outside Kansas City, along the Missouri River. This short hike takes you along 4 interconnected trails in the Alloe Creek Conservation Area.

With this area being protected, this trail is a terrific opportunity to view white tail deer in their safe and natural habitat. The trail takes you across several streams towards a wispy waterfall and even has the remnants of a shelter that was once an old girl scout cabin.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 2.6 MilesElevation Gain: 249 Feet

2. Blue River Parkway and Minor Park Trail

Credit: Blue River Parkway Trails / Facebook

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head south on US-71 S for 11.2 miles and merge onto I-49. After 1.0 miles, take exit 187 for Red Bridge Road toward Longview Road. Continue for 0.6 miles and turn right onto Red Bridge Road. After 2.1 miles, turn left on Minor Park North Entrance. Drive for another 0.3 miles and the trailhead will be on your right.

A popular path for cyclists, the Blue River Parkway and Minor Park Trail is a paved, multipurpose trail that winds along the shores of Blue River. In the 1800s, this trail was used by emigrant pioneers heading west from Independence during the Great Emigration.

Nowadays, this trail is for recreation through lush green forests and prairies, connecting Kansas City’s most popular attractions, including both Kauffman and Arrowhead Stadium – the homes of the Kansas City Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 5.6 MilesElevation Gain: 216 Feet

Related Read: 15 Best Romantic Getaways in Missouri

3. Hidden Valley Natural Area Loop

Credit: Kansas City Parks and Recreation

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head north on I-29 N for 4.5 miles and stay to the right at the fork to merge onto I-35 N. Stay on I-35 N for 2.1 miles and take exit 10 for N Brighton Avenue. Make a right onto N Brighton Avenue and drive for 1.1 miles before taking a left onto NE Parvin Road. After 0.3 miles, turn right onto Searcy Creek Parkway followed by an immediate left onto NE Russell Road. Drive for another 0.5 miles and take a quick left and the trailhead will be on your left.

Just north of downtown Kansas City, the Hidden Valley Natural Area Loop is a beautiful, and wonderfully remote trail just outside the city limits.

This trail leads you through a natural planting project initiated by the Kansas City parks and Recreation Department before leading you through dense forest.

Follow the steep pathway along a bubbling ravine until you reach an incredible scenic and tranquil overlook – with far-reaching views of the Missouri River from a unique and serene vantage point.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 3.2 MilesElevation Gain: 242 Feet

4. Swope Park Mountain Bike Trail

Credit: MTBjunkie / Flickr

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head east on I-70 E for 5.5 miles and take exit 8A to merge onto I-435 S. Continue for 4.6 miles and take exit 67 for Gregory Boulevard. After 1.1 miles, turn right onto E Gregory Boulevard and quickly slight left onto Lakeside Drive. Drive for another 0.7 miles, turn slight left onto Oldham Road and take an immediate left onto Oakwood Road and the trailhead will be on your right.

Tucked away in the hills of Swope Park Mountain lies a that is best suited for hikers, mountain bikers, and snowshoers alike – depending on the season.

The Swope Park Mountain Bike Mountain Bike Trail is almost five miles of adventurous climbs through a dense forest that is rich with energy and wildlife.

The spring months can be very muddy – try to use your best judgment to protect the trail and the trail is very delicate in these conditions.

Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 4.6 MilesElevation Gain: 341 Feet

5. Happy Rock to Shoal Creek Trail

Credit: Keith Anderson / AllTrails

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head north on I-29 N for 4.5 miles and stay to the right at the fork to merge onto I-35 N. Stay on I-35 N for 2.1 miles and take exit 10 for N Brighton Avenue. Make a right onto N Brighton Avenue and drive for 2.2 miles before turning left onto NE Pleasant Valley Road. Continue for 0.7 miles and take the first exit on the roundabout towards NE Antioch Road. Drive for 1.1 miles and turn left onto Happy Rock Park Road followed by an immediate right and the parking area will be on your right.

The hike to Happy Rock via Shoal Creek Trail is a comfortable urban hike that is suitable for all ability levels. This short hike along a smoothly paved surface has limited elevation gain and leads into a seemingly desolate area of Kansas City, just minutes from the city.

The trail follows along Shoal Creek through the beautiful meadows of Happy Rock Park underneath the shaded canopy of a beautifully lush suburban forest. Happy Rock Park also features playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, as well as restrooms and drinking fountains.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 2.4 MilesElevation Gain: 68 Feet

Related Read: 65 BEST Things to Do in Missouri

6. Wudchuk Run Loop

Credit: Hilary Buford / AllTrails

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head east on I-70 E for 5.5 miles and take exit 8A to merge onto I-435 S. Continue for 4.6 miles and take exit 67 for Gregory Boulevard. After 1.1 miles, turn right onto E Gregory Boulevard and quickly slight left onto Lakeside Drive. Drive for another 0.7 miles, turn slight left onto Oldham Road and take an immediate left onto Oakwood Road and the trailhead will be on your right.

On the eastern ridge of Slope Mountain is the Wudchuk Run hiking trail. This trail traverses over multiple streams before wandering up into the hills of Slope Mountain.

The trail begins to get quite rocky as you climb, leading you up into a dense canopied forest that overlooks the hills east of Kansas City.

Keep in mind that this is part of a longer mountain biking trail – keep your ears peeled for the sounds of passing cyclists. The terrain can be unpredictable, trekking poles are recommended for this hike.

Difficulty: ModerateDistance: 6.8 MilesElevation Gain: 547 Feet

7. Longview Lake and Little Blue River

Credit: The Nature Conservancy

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head south on US-71 S for 11.2 miles and use the right two lanes to take exit 183 to merge onto I470 E towards Lee's Summit. Drive for 4.0 miles and take exit 4 towards Raytown Road. Turn right onto Raytown Road and drive for 1.7 miles and turn left onto Longview Road. After 0.2 miles turn right onto Longview Road and the parking area will be on your right.

The Longview Lake and Little Blue River hike is a wonderful trail that follows the scenic shores of Longview Lake. This longer hike is paved in the commercial district but is primarily well-graded crushed gravel.

Do not be surprised to come across wildlife on your journey; this area is well-populated habitat for deer. Depending on the ambitions of your hike, at the halfway point is Transparent Brewing Company, an excellent place to throw a cold pint under the warm afternoon sun.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 11.7 MilesElevation Gain: 216 Feet

8. Hodge Park Nature Trail

Credit: Hodge Park Trails / Facebook

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head north on I-29 N for 4.7 miles and stay right at the fork to continue on I-35 N. Drive for 4.7 miles and take exit 12B to merge onto I-435 N toward KC Airport. Continue for 4.3 miles and take exit 47 for NE 96th Street. After 0.4 miles, turn right onto NE 96th Street. Drive for 0.2 miles and the trailhead will be on your right.

The Hodge Park Nature Trail is just a short section of the Shoal Creek Trail System but is a beautiful trail that has many of the features of the entire trail system in just a few miles.

This well-maintained trail has limited elevation gain, making an adventure through this interpretive nature trail accessible to travelers of all abilities.

Before starting the trail, stop by the Shoal Creek Living History Museum near the trailhead to gain a broader knowledge of the elements of the Hodge Park Nature Trail.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 4.1 MilesElevation Gain: 170 Feet

Related Read: 20 Top Treehouse Rentals in Missouri

9. Platte Landing and English Landing Park Loop

Credit: Tim Ackelmire / Pinterest

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head north over the Heart of America Bridge along MO-9 N for 3.0 miles. Keep left to stay on MO-9 N and drive for 6.5 miles and turn right onto MO-9. Continue for 3.6 miles and turn left onto Main Street and drive for 0.3 and turn left into the parking area for this hike.

The Platte Landing and English Landing Park Loop is a riverfront trail that is an extremely picturesque area that follows the perimeter of both parks.

Near historic downtown Parkville, this trail follows along a crushed gravel path through a suburban area – it is common to be passing lively children on playgrounds and playful pups galloping free throughout the park.

During the summer, bring skin protection. Although there is shade at the beginning of the hike, the trail loses its canopy, and you will be exposed to the sun’s rays for the remainder of the loop.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 4.6 MilesElevation Gain: 42 Feet

10. Maple Woods Natural Area Trail

Credit: Missouri Dept. of Conservation / Facebook

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head north on I-29 N for 4.5 miles and take a right at the fork onto I-35 N. Continue for 0.5 miles and take exit 8c toward MO-1. Turn left onto MO-1 N and drive for another 3.6 miles and make a left onto NE 72nd Street. After 0.5 miles turn right onto N Euclid Avenue and drive for 0.5 miles and turn onto NE 76th Street. Stay on NE 76th Street for 0.4 miles and turn right into the parking area for this hike.

The short hike through the Maple Woods Trail is a quick but rewarding journey into a beautiful suburban forest lined with old-growth trees. The trail is not well-maintained and can be very rocky at points. Although it is not a long trail, it is not one for flip-flops.

The charming path through the woods takes you across a small footbridge and follows along a small, babbling creek that descends into a ravine before following the wooded pathway back to the trailhead.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 1.0 MilesElevation Gain: 141 Feet

11. Chimney's Trail Loop

Credit: Michael Morris / Flickr

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head east on I-70 E for 5.5 miles and take exit 8A to merge onto I-435 S. Drive for 2.9 miles and use the two left lanes to take exit 66 toward Blue Parkway. Continue for 1.7 miles and exit onto Blue Ridge Boulevard. After 0.5 miles turn right onto E Gregory Boulevard followed by an immediate left and another left and the parking area will be on your right.

The journey along Chimney's Trail Loop is an epic adventure that does not have to take all day. The short trek through Cave Spring Park takes you to the ruins of several old chimneys, the last remaining remnants of a spring house on a dairy farm that caught fire in a 1925 forest fire.

The busy trail also passes a small and tranquil waterfall. Before returning to the trailhead, be sure to explore the offshoots so you do not miss the urban cave system along this hike.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 0.8 MilesElevation Gain: 75 Feet

12. Missouri Riverfront Heritage Trail

Credit: Riverfront Heritage Trail / Facebook

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head north onto I-70 W for 1.0 miles and merge onto I-29 N. After 0.3 miles, take exit 4 to merge onto E Front Street and make a left turn onto N Lydia Ave. After 0.2 miles, make a quick right and follow the signs for the parking area for this hike.

The Missouri Riverfront Heritage Trail is in the heart of Kansas City and provides stunning views of the Missouri River. This is a multipurpose trail that parallels downtown Kansas City that is popular with hikers, cyclists, and dog walkers.

The trail surface is smooth and six feet wide. The unique feature of this trail is that it takes place in two different states – Missouri and Kansas.

From the trailhead, you will walk along the busy shores of Missouri and cross the state line into Kansas, before turning around and returning to Missouri.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 3.1 MilesElevation Gain: 82 Feet

Related Read: 40 Best Camping Spots in Missouri

13. Bohoca, Highline, and Basement Loop

Credit: Susan Lee / AllTrails

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head south on US-71 S for 11.2 miles and merge onto I-49. After 2.5 miles, use the right lane to take exit 181 toward Blue Ridge Boulevard. Make a slight right onto Blue Ridge Boulevard and drive for 3.1 miles. Turn right onto Blue River Road and the parking area will be on your right.

The Bohoca, Highline, and Basement Loop are a set of hiking trails in William M. Klein Park in southern Kansas City. Unlike most Kansas City hikes that are in an urban setting, the Bohoca, Highline, and Basement Loop enters a remote, sparingly traveled set of trails that allow adventurers to get lost in nature, even if for only four miles.

Although the trail is limited in human foot traffic, these are equestrian trails – it would not be surprising to be hiking with horse companions.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 3.8 MilesElevation Gain: 305 Feet

14. Loose Park Perimeter Loop

Credit: Jeromey Bell / Flickr

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head south on US-71 S for 3.7 miles and use the right two lanes to take the exit towards Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. Drive for 0.3 miles and turn right onto Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. Continue for 1.3 miles and turn left onto Oak Street and drive for another 0.3 miles. Turn right onto E 51st Street and drive for 0.6 miles. Turn left onto W 52nd Street and then an immediate left and the parking area will be on your left.

The Loose Park Perimeter Loop is a short hike that follows through the historic district in Kansas City. This route takes you through an incredibly beautiful rose garden that has over 4,000 flowers that bloom in season.

As you continue along the trail, there are a series of historic homes with stunning greenery that has markers explaining the Civil War significance to this section of the trail.

Lastly, the trail passes Loose Lake, a relaxing lake that is home to a large family of ducks and a fountain that is over a story tall.

Difficulty: EasyDistance: 1.4 MilesElevation Gain: 72 Feet

15. Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail

Credit: Paul Sableman / Flickr

Directions: From downtown Kansas City, head south on US-71 S for 3.7 miles and use the right two lanes to take the exit towards Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. Drive for 0.3 miles and turn right onto Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. Continue for 1.3 miles and turn left onto Oak Street and drive for another 0.3 miles. Turn right onto E 51st Street and make an immediate right onto Brookside Boulevard. Drive for 0.2 miles and turn right onto E49th Street and the parking area will be on your right.

The Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail is a popular multipurpose trail that runs through the heart of suburban Kansas City. The nearly 7-mile trail was the site of the last of Kansas City’s streetcar line and has been converted into an asphalt paved path.

Today, the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail is a busy trail used by locals for exercise and adventure. The path rewards you with a local tour, as it wanders through the commercial and residential districts of Kansas City. The trail is very exposed, sun protection is highly recommended.

fDifficulty: EasyDistance: 6.8 MilesElevation Gain: 134 Feet

Alex Frick
Article updated:
March 28, 2024
Raised in the Midwest, Alex is an RV-pulling, bike-touring, globetrotting, slow-hiking nomad. He travels full-time with his travel nurse wife and their famous hiking tabby, Rafiki (yes, she has an Insta). He enjoys experiencing lesser-known destinations and discovering hidden gems.
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