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Happy trails: Our guide to hiking around Kansas City

Check out these 15 hiking trails catered to all skill levels in and around the Kansas City metro for outdoor adventures.

Picture of trail sign at WyCo Lake

Politely — take a hike. | Photo by KCtoday

Table of Contents

From quick and easy loops around town to drives that take you to fantastic lakes and limestone bluffs, our city has so many options to hit the trail. So lace up your hiking boots, because we’ve compiled a hiking guide for the KC area with nine routes and trails to help you plan your next adventure and experience breathtaking views.

Note: While parks and trails may be listed as open, we recommend checking Urban Trail Co. (the trail managers) visiting for further info and current trail conditions.

Key: Easy = 🥾| Moderate = 🥾🥾 | Hard = 🥾🥾🥾

KCMO proper

Swope Park, Kansas City, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾🥾
  • Length: 20 miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash required

Swope is a staple for hiking in KC. Some trails like Rancho D’Lux are moderate, but the rocky + challenging Wudchuk Run trail will make you feel like you’re in the mountains — without the elevation. Non-profit Urban Trail Co. also continues to extend this trail system. Use a trail app to discover the newer routes south of Oldham Road — and watch out for mountain bikers.

Photo of Swope Park trails by @jakeupdeleon

Swope has a mix of moderate to difficult terrain. | Photo by @jakeupdeleon

Blue River Parkway, Kansas City, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 30+ miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash required

The Blue River Greenway Trail is a 5.5-mile paved pathway, and the dirt trail system explores 26 miles of rock features, native plant life, river access points, and ridges. Trail builders have recently connected this system with Swope — use a trail app to explore the Underworld path.

Photo of dog in the shallow Blue River

The pups and kiddos love to splash around in the Blue River.

Photo by KCtoday

Cliff Drive, Kansas City, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 4.27 miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash required

This paved scenic byway is closed to traffic. Part of Kessler Park, this pathway through the bluffs of the Historic Northeast provide access to massive limestone cliffs and views of the East Bottoms. Plus, don’t sleep on the disc golf course.

KCtoday_Cliff Drive

Imagine what this view IRL...| Photo by Eric L Bowers, via KC Parks + Recreation

Eric L Bowers

West of state line

Wyandotte County Lake, Kansas City, KS

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 19 miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash required

WyCo Lake will fulfill your wilderness cravings. The trails will take you along the lake and over roots and rocks. Find hidden gems, like a mini beach + various lake overlooks. The best view is on the dam. Just keep a trail app handy — there are some colored blazes but not many signs.

Shawnee Mission Park, Shawnee, KS

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 27.5 miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash + off-leash options

This 1,600-acre park has trails for every use. Pedestrian pathways connect to the 17-mile Mill Creek Streamway Park trail. Shared nature trails north of the lake offer varying difficulty levels. Hiking-specific trails to the south connect with the 44-acre dog park, which also has paved and dirt trails.

Ernie Miller Park, 909 N. Hwy. 7, Olathe, KS

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 3 miles
  • Pet friendly: No

Ernie Miller Park has 116-acres of diverse habitats, including tallgrass prairies, meadows, and forests. Multiple hiking trails make for easy strolling. Explore the nature center to learn about the land before heading on your journey.

Photo of Ernie Miller Park by @amenamy_aphoticamy

Get lost in these pristine woods.

Northland nooks

Hidden Valley Park, NE Russell Road + Bennington Avenue, Kansas City, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 4+ miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash required

This loop (with optional offshoots) is a dirt path of mostly rolling ridges with a couple steep spots. It was opened as part of the city’s parkland expansion in the Northland and named for its deep, wooded valley that was previously “hidden” from the general public.
Parkville Nature Sanctuary, Parkville, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: ~3 miles
  • Pet friendly: No

This mostly-paved hiking trail highlights various plant and wildlife features, including a butterfly garden. You can join in seasonal events, offer to volunteer, reserve the trailhead shelter, or just get lost in the woods.

KC_Hidden Valley Park

Yes, like Hidden Valley Ranch. Yes, there’s a path called “Zesty.”

Photo by KCtoday

Smithville Lake Trails, Smithville, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 12.2 miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash required

Bird-watching, horseback riding, and any manner of on-foot exploration is perfect for this natural surface trail loop with peaceful views on either side.

MO-side stops

Fleming Park at Lake Jacomo, Blue Springs, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: 27.5 miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash required

This trail is made out of natural earth + packed aggregate, 7,800+ acres of recreational parkland, and is located ~15 minutes from KC. Check out additional maps for hiking trails.

KCtoday_Blue Springs Lake

Expect greener pastures during your summertime visits. | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area, Blue Springs, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾🥾
  • Length: ~6 miles
  • Pet friendly: No

Its longest trail takes ~1.5 hours to complete through steep forested hillsides, large limestone boulders, restored prairies, and woodlands.
Unity Village Nature Trail, Lee’s Summit, MO

  • Difficulty: 🥾
  • Length: 3.1 miles
  • Pet friendly: Yes, leash required

Step away from the city for a lunchtime walk or a moment of solitude on this gravel-paved trail that features fitness stops along the way.
Be sure to check to see if a trail is open before hauling out your hiking boots. Visit Urban Trail Co. online for more trails and their status.

You can also check out our paths guide for top bike riding + walking suggestions.

Get the right gear

Get the most out of your trip with comfortable, handy, and helpful hiking gear:

Psst — to be ultra-prepared, here are the 10 items you should never enter a national park without, according to the National Park Service.

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