Most people do not realize that our Kansas City Metropolitan area has some great places for hikes and outdoor enthusiasts of all fitness levels! I started exploring local hikes regularly about five years ago, and there are still many places that I have not visited; however, I do have a long list of places and tips I can share with you. 

If you do not know where to start, joining the Sierra club is a great place. We have two local chapters, Kansas and Missouri, offering hikes in Kansas during the peak hiking season – spring and fall. They also organize adventures around the country and around the globe. Facebook hiking groups are also a good place to meet local hiking enthusiasts, who post pictures and tips weekly from their recent hiking discoveries, pictures, and tips. 

The first hike I am sharing is none other than our great Wyandotte County Lake! It is a man-made 400-acre lake with an 11-mile trail, surrounded by 1,500 acres of woodlands. 

It is perhaps the most challenging local hike because it is the only place where you can find an elevation gain of 1,322 ft. This makes it popular among people training for an upcoming Colorado vacation. They can be easily recognized by carrying a large backpack – too large for a casual weekend hike. 

Serious hikers were practicing perhaps for their next Colorado trip. 
Serious hikers were practicing perhaps for their next Colorado trip. 

There are several ways to circumvent the lake, so do not be intimidated by the 11-mile radius. The first time I attempted this, my more experienced and fitter friends set up two “car stations” at the 6 and 8-mile markers, so if any of us, aka me, got tired, they could just be transported to their car and call it a day. This is a great strategy for any beginner. 

wooded area in autumn
The hike takes you across beautiful wooded areas.

On your hike around the lake, you will pass by our F.L. Schlagle Library.  The setting is just perfect for this environmental library with a focus on educating children about nature and science. Several times a year, they organize public programs such as the recent Eagle Days. Read more about their programs here. They also organize very popular children’s summer camps. 

display of local bird images
Wyandotte County Lake is a happening place for the bird world as well.

white board in library window detailing bird sitings
The library educators tell us which birds to watch out for any time of the year.

outside photo of F. L. Schlagle Environmental Library
F.L. Schlagle Library is located right on Wyandotte County Lake.

As a general rule, do not attempt to hike any trails on a muddy day! Most city trails are closed during muddy conditions so as not to ruin the trails. This specific trail is also a well-traveled mountain biking and horse trail; it is officially called The Bridle Trail for a reason, and horses created deep trenches there, so there is no way around it but to plow through the muddy trail. Pets are allowed on leashes only.

dirt path through the woods
This well-worn path is also utilized by horses and dirt road bikers.

For family outings, there are many fun and educational opportunities. One can recognize birds by sight or by their sounds, identify trees in all seasons by their bark, leaves, or acorns and identify local mushrooms. 

F. L. Schlagle Library sign
Walk around the library grounds’ education pathways.

Cutting It Short 

A shorter version, also accessible during wet conditions, is a walk around the lake on the paved road. The traffic is not too heavy but watch for sharp curves. As always, when hiking or walking, bring an adequate supply of water!

Walking on the road cuts the hike by about half

Map of the shorter hiking path around the lake
This is a much shorter hike, taking the road.

hikers resting under a park shelter
Bring snacks and take as many breaks as necessary.

Your First Hike Tips: 

  • Always tell someone your hiking destination for that day and when you are planning to be back 
  • Bring a friend (two friends for a “serious” hike in case one of you gets injured)
  • Use free hiking apps or download a map of the area (especially learn how to “pin” your location on your smartphone).
  • Dress in layers                                  
  • Bring nutritious snacks
  • Bring enough water (2 cups or 17 oz for every hour of hiking)
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Keep track of time and be mindful of sunset hours, especially in the winter
map of Wyandotte County Lake area
If you do not have a smartphone, download a map from the link below

Feel free to contact me with specific hiking KC questions! 

Magda Born

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101          

913-295-8250 ext 1103



Hiking Kansas City book cover

Hiking Kansas City: the complete guide to more than 100 hiking and walking trails in the Kansas City area by William B. Eddy, Richard O. Ballentine

Format: Book

Call Number: 917.7841 EDDY