LONG WALKING TRAILS IN LEE’S SUMMIT
If you’re looking to connect with nature or simply get in a long walk, then these trails are for you. And, if you’ve not walked them before, get ready to be surprised. There is beauty in the Lee’s Summit area that you have yet to discover. If you’re looking for shorter trails, we’ve got you covered too.
Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area
You owe it to yourself to visit this heavily-wooded jewel in Blue Springs, Mo. Although there are a few paved trails, the majority are gravel. Discover limestone cliffs, boulders, streams and tall-grass prairie. You can spend an hour or a full day. And, at 1,071 acres, you’ll often find yourself alone with the sound of the wind and the birds. There's also a beautiful nature center, open Tuesday-Saturday. Trails are open daily. If you’re short on time, we recommend the Bethany Falls Trail.
Length 6 trails and a total of 6 miles. Many trails interconnect so you can customize your hike.
Conditions Paved and unpaved, ranging from easy to moderate. Bring water, just in case your hike goes longer than you planned.
Kid and stroller friendly? Children will enjoy the nature center and the paved trail can easily accommodate strollers. The gravel trails are for heartier children who can carry their own weight.
Address 1401 NW Park Road, Blue Springs, Mo.
Carl Chinnery Trail at Unity Village
This 2.15-mile loop has been recently renovated. It’s a private trail, but is open to the general public. The trail, named after a Lee’s Summit attorney, leads through gently rolling and pastoral scenes. It also passes under a railroad tunnel, runs parallel to a stream and provides views of limestone outcroppings in the distance. Perhaps most interesting, the renovated trail gives access to a “natural bridge” that was previously inaccessible unless you knew what you were looking for.
Length 2.15-mile loop
Conditions Crushed gravel, easy to moderate
Kid friendly? This is not stroller-friendly. Children will need to be able to walk the trail themselves.
Address 1901 NW Blue Pkwy, Unity Village, MO 64065
The trail head is immediately east of the Unity office complex and is marked with a large sign. Park in the parking lost adjacent to the trail head. Sometimes people have trouble finding it, so here’s a picture of what you are looking for, followed my a map.
James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area
This 3,000-acre area is dotted with lakes and fields and includes the Shawnee Trace Natural Trail, which follows a stream and rises above rock outcroppings. In addition to the official nature trail, James A. Reed is ripe for the wanderer. You can walk the shores of a dozen lakes and follow multi-use trails for miles throughout the park.
Length The Shawnee Trace Natural Trail is a 2.5 mile loop with some optional off and on ramps.
Conditions This is a dirt trail with few elevation changes, except for a brief rise over some rock outcroppings. The real challenge with this trail is that it’s poorly marked and minimally maintained. In summer, it’s nearly impassable due to spider webs, overgrowth and poison ivy. Get a map (see below), bring a compass and water and head out when the bugs and poison ivy dissipate. There is beauty to be found here, for sure, but you won’t really know your way around until your second or third trip. An alternative is to follow the many miles of multi-use trails that traverse the park (see the map below).
Kid and stroller friendly? Kids must be prepared to walk for at least an hour on the nature trail.
Address 12405 SE Ranson Road, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Lake Jacomo Trails
Lake Jacomo has several trails, ranging from the easy-to-find and well-maintained to“ghost trails” (“Is that really a trail?”) you may discover by accident. We’ll give you the straight scoop so you don’t get lost in the brush.
Larry Mattonen Memorial Trail
This is, hands down, Lake Jacomo’s most accessible and well-maintained trail. It’s essentially a gravel road that divides into two loops. It’s shaped like a giant number 8. It’s a pleasant, quiet and mostly forested walk with a few pastoral scenes and limestone outcroppings.
Length About 2 miles
Condition This is a gravel road (but restricted to bikers and hikers). It’s generally flat with few elevation changes. There are many spurs off of the main trail. These are poorly marked, so wander at your own risk.
Kid Friendly? Children should be able to walk on their own. Pushing a stroller will prove bumpy.
Address Cyclone Road, Lee's Summit, MO 64086. See the map below for more specific location directions. This trail head is in the vicinity of Missouri Town 1855. A highly visible sign is posted next to the road.
Pa-Huska Nature Trail
This trail gives you a few moments of wilderness in the midst of bustling suburbs. It crosses a crystal clear stream, follows a dry limestone creek bed and tops a ridge overlooking the valley before returning to Park Road.
Length 1.2 miles
Condition This is a dirt trail with minor elevation changes. As with most Jacomo trails, this one has few markers. However, the trail is well worn and never ventures far from a roadway. In summer, bugs, cobwebs and poison ivy will be challenging.
Kid Friendly? This trail has plenty of rocks to stumble over, so caution is advised for small children.
Address Lake Jacomo Sail Boat Cove, 740 E Park Rd, Lee's Summit, MO 64086.
Finding it At our last check, there were no signs marking the entry to this trail, only a small gravel parking lot. If you are entering from the north, the parking lot is before you exit for Sailboat Cove. If you are coming from the south, the parking lot is after the exit.
Prickly Pear Cactus Glade Loop
This trail explores the wooded bluffs that tower over the south end of Lake Jacomo. You’ll see limestone outcroppings, giant boulders and vistas of the lake.
Length 1 mile loop
Condition This is a dirt path with several rocky steps and moderate difficulty. However, it has been recently upgraded and is easy to follow.
Kid Friendly? Although there are few elevation changes, this is a rocky trail with steep cliffs. Caution is advised for small children. Strollers won’t work.
Address 1794 N.E. Colbern Rd., Lee’s Summit, MO 64086.
Finding it Park at the Lake Jacomo spillway parking lot on the south side of Colbern Road. The trail head is immediately across the street and is marked by this sign:
This trail begins at a pond near the entrance to Missouri Town 1855 and transverses the woods, crosses streams and provides panoramic views of Lake Jacomo. It also features a glade with unique wildflowers and prickly pear cactus (in season).
Length At its shortest, this trail is a 1.2-mile loop. However, it connects with other area trails that are unmarked and do not appear on the trail map. If you aren't careful, you can stretch a one-mile loop into several miles and not be quite sure where you are. The path is easy to see and follow, but there are very few signs. Bring a compass, just in case.
Conditions This is a dirt path of moderate difficulty. Hazards include exposed roots and mud after a rain. In summer, poison ivy and bugs will be a challenge.
Kid Friendly? Although it’s not equipped for strollers, this is a relatively easy dirt trail to walk.
Address The trail head is near the Native Hooved Animal Enclosure at Lake Jacomo. There are a few parking spaces. It is marked by this sign:
Lake Vista Trail: Blue Springs Lake
This crushed rock trail encircles the wooded and rolling terrain surrounding Blue Springs Lake. The north side of the trail passes limestone cliffs and outcroppings. Another highlight is a giant, arched footbridge that passes over a stream. If you complete the full loop, you will walk part of the route on a sidewalk and bridge that crosses Blue Springs Lake. And, despite the name, is the only place you’ll actually get a vista of the lake. But that’s a minor complaint.
Length 5-mile loop.
Conditions Crushed rock with minor elevation changes. It can be soggy after a rain.
Kid and stroller friendly? Bumps, elevation changes and occasional erosion may present challenges if you are bringing a stroller.
Address There are several places to access the trail, including:
Trail head parking on the east side of the Blue Springs Lake dam on Liggett Road. It is 1,000 feet east of the Jackson County Parks office at S.W. Woods Chapel Road and Liggett Road.
South trail head parking is also on Liggett Road, but near the intersection of Liggett Road and Liggett-Cove Road (Liggett Rd & Liggett-Cove Rd Sni-A-Bar Township, MO 64015).
There are additional access points shown on the Lake Vista Trail map.
Legacy Park Trail
Legacy Park is known for numerous sports fields, an amphitheater and community center. But it also features a paved, 5-mile loop that encircles Legacy Park Lake and follows the border of the entire 700-acre park.
Length 4.7-mile loop (which can be broken into smaller sections if you don’t want to walk that far).
Conditions This is a paved and easy walk. However, shade is scarce.
Kid and stroller friendly? Yes.
Address 901 Bluestem, Lee's Summit, MO 64086
Little Blue Trace Trail
As the name implies, this walking and biking trail follows the Little Blue River from Lee’s Summit Road all the way north to 24 Highway in Independence. The one-way journey is 15.6 miles. It’s a pleasant walk (or ride) on crushed gravel that weaves in and out of populated areas. It ranges from loud and urban as you walk underneath I-70 to quiet and pastoral as you head further south or north.
Length 15.6 miles, with plans for expansion
Conditions Crushed rock, easy. There is an absence of shade on much of the trail. Bring water.
Kid and stroller friendly Yes.
There are several places to access the trail near Lee’s Summit (and even more as you head north).
MAP TO LEE’S SUMMIT ROAD TRAIL HEAD
Longview Lake Trail
This one-way 6.5-mile paved trail begins at Shelter 14 near the marina and ends at O’Donnell Park in Grandview. It generally provides unshaded, pastoral scenery with views of the lake. It passes under View High Drive on its way to trail’s end. The trail can also be accessed at several points along its course. There is a bike rental station at the trail head.
Length 6.5 miles
Conditions Paved, easy, minimal shade. Bring water.
Kid and stroller friendly? Yes
Address Longview Lake Main Trail Head, 9898 Longview Road, Kansas City, MO 64134. If you want to begin at the south entrance, park at O’Donnell Park, 13500 Kurzwell Road, Grandview, MO 64030.
At Powell Gardens, 25 minutes east of Lee’s Summit on Highway 50, it’s flower and trail heaven. In addition to exploring the gardens on paved trails, the Byron Shutz Nature Trail takes you to the less-trafficked part of this popular destination. Please note that Powell Gardens is a private organization, sets its own hours and charges an admission fee. Check their website for more information.
Length The Byron Shutz Nature Trail is a 3.25-mile loop.
Conditions Powell Gardens describes the dirt trail this way: “This trail offers slight inclines and some rocky terrain, but is easily traversed by hikers with moderate experience. Novice hikers should review their fitness level and the trail length before beginning a hike.”
Kid and stroller friendly? This trail is best for children who can walk it. Strollers are not recommended.
Address 1609 US-50, Kingsville, MO 64061
Maps Ask for a trail map at the visitor’s center.
Rock Island Rail Corridor Trail
The Rock Island Trail is a converted railroad line running 17.7 miles from Lee's Summit, Mo., to Kansas City, Mo., ending north of the Truman Sports Complex. Highlights of the Lee’s Summit section include views of the Cedar Creek Valley near Third Street and Chipman Road and the Vail Railroad Tunnel.
Length 17.7 miles one way
Conditions The trail surface is made of crushed rock, which can be soggy when wet. There is abundant shade.
Kid and stroller friendly? There is almost no elevation change on the trail, so the walk is easy. Children would have to be mindful of passing cyclists. This trail would challenge all but the most rugged strollers.
Address Since the trail is more than 17-miles long, there are several points of access. The easiest access point with the most abundant parking is at Charles David Hartman Memorial Park. You can also park near the Vale Tunnel in South Kansas City, but it’s not easy to find. In addition, you can park at the southern trail head in Lee’s Summit, but there is only on-street parking.