Hiking Through Fall: A Guide to Kansas City’s Best Trails

How are you welcoming the fall season? With autumn in full swing, there’s no better time to get outside and immerse yourself in the cool weather, warm colors and fresh air. Before you bundle up for winter, carve out time to take advantage of our Kansas City parks and their abundance of lush hiking trails. In addition to providing a peaceful escape from city life, hiking offers a variety of health benefits such as boosting cardiovascular fitness, strengthening the core, improving balance and serving as a natural stress reliever. From kid-friendly paths for family excursions to strenuous trails for experienced hikers, check out our top picks that will help you stay active this autumn.

Easy Trails

When you successfully combine family time with physical activity, we consider it a win-win. With trails that feature scenic views, paved paths and fun playsets, the whole family, from children to grandparents, can bask in the colors of the season while getting great exercise – no babysitter necessary.

Only about 20 minutes outside of Kansas City, you’ll find Parkville Nature Sanctuary, a location that boasts a variety of wildlife and stunning views. Stroll down Old Kate Trail, a popular loop showcasing beautiful waterfalls, or Bluebird Trail, an ADA-accessible option that accommodates a variety of explorers. For more interactive outdoor experiences, Powell Gardens, a 2.9 mile loop, offers beautiful gardens, a pirate playhouse and family-friendly festivals. The Orange, Violet and Red Trails at Shawnee Mission Park are great options for weekend adventures, complete with nine paved paths that range from 2.1 to 6.5 miles. Visit the All Trails website for additional kid-friendly hiking options, thorough reviews and driving directions.

Moderate Trails

Want to travel off the beaten path? Stray down winding trails, discover cascading waterfalls and plan for stream-side picnics on a number of hiking trails that will immerse you in nature. With options ranging from short, rocky hikes to day-long excursions, these moderate hikes are a great way to get your heart rate up while enjoying the fall foliage.  

Keep your trek short and sweet on the Master Blaster, a path for bikers and hikers alike with steep descents and plenty of rollers. Another popular path is the 1-mile Gold Loop, a swooping trail with rocky areas that are sure to challenge you. Hi-Fi and Augie PH1 will push you a little harder as they require some light climbing and stream crossings. Made to provide solitude, Augie PH1 is a great option for hikers who are looking for a peaceful wilderness experience.

Difficult Trails

Looking for a challenge? With paths that feature rocky, uneven terrain, we only recommend pursuing advanced trails if you’re an experienced hiker who is comfortable with climbing. If this is you, bring a buddy and get out there!

The popular Jigsaw trail is only a-tenth of a mile, but don’t let that fool you – this path will test your footwork and require a fair amount of climbing. While exploring, be cautious of mountain bikers who share the same route. Analog, a winding single-track off of Blue River Parkway, is an exciting rocky trail said to be most enjoyable when heading southbound. For a slightly longer trip, Basement (North), a mile-long trip with steep cliffs and rocky tread, will keep you on your toes and give you the workout you’re seeking.

For more local trails – ranging from kid-friendly to advanced – search HikingPoject.com for the Kansas City Metro area or visit one of Kansas City’s local park offices. Before changing your exercise regimen, however, make sure you consult with your healthcare provider. Happy hiking!

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