12 Surprisingly Scenic Hikes Near Kansas City for All Levels
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While Kansas City isn’t home to giant mountaintops or sandy beaches, this Midwestern city has a lot to offer in terms of scenic nature walks. It may come as a surprise to some, but Kansas City actually has several hiking trails in and around the city that locals can explore to get some exercise and fresh air and escape the city. If this sounds like you, read on – we created this guide to some of the best hikes near Kansas City for hikers of all experience levels. We hope you’ll find one that inspires you to plan your next adventure!

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Photo Credit: Will Kirby (Flickr CC)

Easy Hiking in Kansas City

Rancho D-Lux Loop

  • Distance from Kansas City: 0 miles (Located in the city)
  • Trail Length: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 262 feet

Swope Park is one of the most beloved urban parks that’s home to some of the best hikes in Kansas City. For beginners and families, the Rancho D-Lux Loop trail is a fantastic, 3-mile hike that winds through the forest, passing by abandoned cabins and jagged rock formations. Home to lots of local wildlife, the trail is a wonderful way to enjoy one of the city’s prime green spaces without leaving the city! You can also combine this trail with some of the other trails in the park for a longer day of hiking, or enjoy this short, easy trail.

Photo Credit: Laura Supalla Gilchrist (Flickr CC)

White Tail Trail

  • Distance from Kansas City: 15 miles/20 minutes (Parkville Nature Sanctuary)
  • Trail Length: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 249 feet

The White Tail Trail in Parkville Nature Sanctuary is the cream of the crop of all urban trails. With wooded trails that pass by various waterfalls and streams, it’s a beloved place for hiking near Kansas City, especially with families and children. The sanctuary has several different trails, so you can extend the 2.6-mile White Tail Trail by adding on different detours and loops through the entire park area. For beginners, families, or hikers wanting to escape the city without going too far, the White Tail Trail is arguably one of the best short, easy hikes near Kansas City.

Photo Credit: Vincent Parsons (Flickr CC)

Larry Mattenon Memorial Trail

  • Distance from Kansas City: 24 miles/30 minutes (South Prairie Lee Park)
  • Trail Length: 2.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 78 feet

Offering some of the most stunning views of Lake Jacomo, the Larry Mattenon Memorial Trail is one of the most scenic hikes near Kansas City. With a beautiful, quiet trail that leads hikers to the top of a cliff overlooking the water, the Larry Mattenon Memorial Trail is a great choice for all levels of hikers who want to enjoy waterfront views and get a bit of fresh air. From the view, you can usually see local boaters enjoying some sunshine on the water, or catch local bird species flying overhead.

Line Creek Trail

  • Distance from Kansas City: 7 miles/15 minutes
  • Trail Length: 11 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 416 feet

If you’re looking for a long, non-strenuous hike that has it all, the Line Creek Trail is one of the all-time best hikes near Kansas City. You’ll find hikers, walkers, runners, and bikers along this wide pathway that runs for several miles through many of Kansas City’s nature areas. The beauty of this long trail is that you can choose exactly how long (or short) you want your hike to be, and you can come back and explore different sections, too. Along the trail, there are waterfalls, forests, and rivers, and you’ll find many people with dogs on this canine-friendly trail, too.

Photo Credit: Laura Supalla Gilchrist (Flickr CC)

Platte Landing & English Landing Park

  • Distance from Kansas City: 10 miles/20 minutes
  • Trail Length: 4.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 42 feet

One of the most fun and popular areas for walking and hiking near Kansas City is Platte Landing and English Landing Park. This waterside trail system has minimal elevation gain, making it ideal for first-time hikers or anyone who wants a leisurely semi-urban stroll rather than a strenuous slog through the woods. Along the way, you’ll pass along the waterside, over historic bridges, and around many parts of this buzzing park. It’s a prime people-watching spot, too!

Blue River Parkway Trail

  • Distance from Kansas City: 0 miles (Located in the city)
  • Trail Length: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 272 feet

For a quiet, contemplative walk in the woods, the Blue River Parkway Trail is a great option for hiking in Kansas City. While there’s not much on the trail in terms of views, the densely forested trails provide seclusion and respite from the nearby city, making this a really nice spot to get some fresh air with fewer crowds. There are also many areas of the trail that run by the river, perfect for a mid-day picnic or a rest stop before continuing your hike.

Photo Credit: Benjamin White (Flickr CC)

Moderate & Difficult Hikes in Kansas City

Shawnee Mission Park Orange, Violet, and Red Loop

  • Distance from Kansas City: 18 miles/25 minutes (Shawnee Mission Park)
  • Trail Length: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 498 feet

If you’re looking for a longer trail through the woods with a bit more challenging terrain, the Shawnee Mission Park Loop trail is a fantastic option that’s not far from the city. While it’s not the best hike for views, these shady, forested trails do feel like a fun, adventurous challenge, with a bit more elevation and terrain change than the easy hikes on our list. Some of the higher elevations do open up to some simple views of the forest treetops, which are especially pretty in the fall. Note that this trail is shared with mountain bikers, so be on the lookout for those if you decide to hike the full loop.

Wudchuk Run Loop

  • Distance from Kansas City: 0 miles (Located in the city)
  • Trail Length: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 547 feet

For a more moderate hike in Swope Park, the Wudchuk Run Loop is one of the more fun and challenging hikes in Kansas City. At just under 7 miles, the trail will take a few hours to complete, and is full of elevation and terrain changes that more experienced hikers will enjoy. Along the forested trail, you’ll find stark rock formations that look like canyons, abandoned cabins, and if you’re lucky, some local wildlife. There’s a lot to see and do on the Wudchuk Run loop, but be sure to keep your wits about you, as there are a few spots where the trail can be a bit difficult to follow!

Photo Credit: christophermoverton (Flickr CC)

West Ridge Trail

  • Distance from Kansas City: 32 miles/40 minutes (Weston Bend State Park)
  • Trail Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 295 feet

Hikers looking for hilly terrain with a few nice views will enjoy the West Ridge Trail at Weston Bend State Park. At 2.4 miles and less than 300 feet of elevation gain, the terrain is what makes this hike moderately challenging. Don’t be fooled, though – it’s one of the more fun and scenic hikes near Kansas City on our list, especially in the fall. The top of the trail offers some beautiful views of the Missouri River and the surrounding forests and hills.

Bethany Falls, Hickory Grove, and Wildlife Habitat Trail Loop

  • Distance from Kansas City: 21 miles/30 minutes (Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center)
  • Trail Length: 5.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 354 feet

Scramblers and climbers, rejoice! The Bethany Falls, Hickory Grove, and Wildlife Habitat Trail at Burr Oak Woods is full of jagged, warped rock structures to explore. There are few places to go hiking near Kansas City that have quite as many fun and picturesque rocks to climb, scramble on, and explore. We’d almost go as far as to say that the scrambling opportunities are even more fun than the hiking trail itself! With 5.2 miles of distance to cover, this peaceful forested hike is rated as moderate difficulty, and you will find that the rocky terrain poses a fun challenge for hikers of all levels.

Additional Resources for Hiking Near Kansas City

What to Pack

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

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Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. She's also the writer and photographer behind Jetfarer. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, paddling, or playing in the snow.

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