Family Friendly Hiking This Spring in Kansas City

It’s hiking season!

While you can certainly go hiking any time of year, Spring really is a great time to go hiking in Kansas City. The weather is mostly mild, and the summer heat is still far enough away. The bugs aren’t swarming quite yet. The fresh air is so very welcomed after a long winter spent mostly inside.

With a backpack full of snacks (Always, always bring the snacks.), water, magnifying glasses, binoculars and even a little pocket microscope, it’s so easy to have a fun, unplugged adventure outside with your kids. Add in a zipper pouch with your bug spray and first aid, and you’re good to go!


Top Places for Hiking This Spring in Kansas City

Some my family has visited and we plan to hit them again soon; others that are highly recommended and on our list to check out this year. I hope it inspires you to plan some hikes this spring! 

Green Hills of Platte Wildlife Reserve in Parkville – A historic log cabin, nature trails, wildlife spotting and wetlands as well as several acres of natural prairie grass. I’m really looking forward to making a visit to this one.

Black Hoof Park in Lenexa – Two miles of trails with varied terrains. Open grass and wooded areas. Natural play areas, playgrounds, shelters as well as a unique dam and spillway. It’s perfect for a day of exploring and playing. This is one place that families always recommend to me!

Maple Woods Nature Area in Gladstone – This is an awesome nature escape tucked away in Gladstone, and once on the trail it’s easy to forget how close you are to the neighborhoods nearby. My children loved this trail, it can get slick when it’s wet, and involves a bit of terrain changes and inclines and declines, but it’s a fun one. Beautiful in the spring and again in the fall when the trees turn!

Mill Creek Streamway Park in Shawnee, Lenexa and Olathe – A lengthy but well maintained paved trail, accessible at various points. It’s very scenic, and great for bicycling as well as hiking. You can plan a hike as long or as short as you would like.

George Owens Nature Park in Independence, MO – Over three miles of hiking trails, rain gardens and a butterfly garden. The DeWitt Center is also worth a stop as well with its four large aquariums.

James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area in Lee’s Summit – While Reed is known well for fishing and hunting, it also has an awesome trail loop that you can add or subtract from to make your hike however long you wish. We typically enter in and do a short loop right next to Bodarc Lake, and this is a favorite trail for my kids.

Martha Lafite Thompson Nature Sanctuary in Liberty – Four miles of nature trails with most the trails being under a mile long. We really enjoyed our visit inside the nature center, with it’s gift shop, educational areas, bird watching, library and animal exhibits.

Unity Village Trail in Unity Village – We like this one because we can explore Unity’s gorgeous grounds before or after our hike, and if we time it right, we can stop in the coffee shop for a treat and a quick browse of the gift shop. Once we reach the hill and the lake view we find that’s a great point to stop for a snack. This is a more open trail and great for the spring and fall seasons.


First time hiking with little ones? Here are some mom tips.


1. Snacks. And of course, water. I mentioned this one already, but it bears repeating. Like with any outing, there is nothing worse than a hungry child. Except when you’re hiking, it’s a hungry child out in the woods and you still have a long walk back to your vehicle. Snacks. Lots of snacks. We love our kid size camelbak hydration packs for water. (Just be sure to pack out what you pack in – no littering!)

2. Lower your expectations. Don’t jump into intense or extra long hikes at first. Hiking does wonders for my kids, for my whole family. We all enjoy it and gain a lot from it. But, as much as I wish it were, the woods are not a magical wonderland with no whining, complaining, fussing, arguing or accidental bumps and bruises. And it never fails, between ½ to ¾ of the way, someone is fussing. Usually though, before we reach the end, we’ve all hit our happy place again and are pretty proud of our trek. I love seeing our kids faces when we reach the end of a hike, and they realize what they’ve accomplished.


One of my absolute favorite ways to find out more about a trail I haven’t yet visited is to check out alltrails.com. It’s always a great idea to research any trails or natural area you plan to visit. Read reviews, understand accessibility, and know your access points. It makes a hike so much more enjoyable when you have a good idea of the adventure you’re about to take.

Happy hiking!

Dani is a photographer, blogger and homeschooling mom in Lee’s Summit. She and her husband Neil have three wonderfully unique daughters and a son who they lost due to a 40 week stillbirth. She has lived just outside Kansas City and around the Lee’s Summit area most of her life. She loves to support local food, businesses and creatives. The Downtown Lee’s Summit Farmer’s Market is her happy place. Her family loves being outdoors, and they are always happy to garden, hike, kayak and explore. You can find more of her musings and adventures on instagram @girl.grows.wild.