Hidden Valley Park is an 82-acre natural area located about 15 minutes or 10 miles from downtown Kansas City, Kansas. It has only minor elevation changes and is an easy four-mile loop that takes a little over an hour to complete. There are three different hikes to choose from. 

Wooded trail. The trees have no leaves.
The park is beautiful year-round.

This hike takes you on an interesting walk through an enchanted forest setting through a rugged and densely wooded forest of old-growth sycamore, sugar maple and red and white oak trees, basswood, and shagbark hickory. The understory is native pawpaws. The hike starts on a meadow and follows along a wood chip trail, continuing through wooded valleys and over small hilltops. There are several lookout opportunities over beautiful ravines. Dogs are welcome, but they must be on a leash.

The heavily shaded old-growth forest and deep loess soil provide for eight species of fern, including the Goldie fern, a protected species in Missouri. The fertile loess ground is hospitable for many spring wildflowers, such as Bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, and Bellwort

Because of the heavily shaded canopy of old and new forests, this is a pleasant walk even in the summer. The grass around the path is trimmed by the park service. 

Goldie fern (Adobe Stock)  
Goldie fern (Adobe Stock)  

What is Loess Soil?

Only 10% of the Earth is covered in this dusty pale yellow, fine, grain wind-blown sediment deposited during the late Ice Age 10,000 years ago. These accumulations hardened over time and formed interesting vertical bluffs in parts of Missouri, China (it is loess soil that gives the Yellow River its color) and along the Rhine River in Germany, from where the word loess originates. Loess is some of the most agriculturally productive soil in the world. 

A wooded valley with bare trees and a creek running through it.
View into the valley that earned the park its name. 
A person with a yellow backpack walking along a wooded trail.
The walk will take you through old, heavily shaded woods and ravines. 
A person in a purple jacket standing in front of an uprooted tree. The tree roots are bigger than her.
On your journey, you will discover interesting old tree stumps 

Why Not to Hike When the Soil is Wet

A trail of footprints in the mud

Soggy trails are not hikeable and are closed to all traffic. 

Urban Trail Co manages trails in the Kansas City metro area. In order to preserve and protect the trails, they are closed when wet to prevent damage by hikers, bikers, and runners. You can check on hiking trails’ open or closed status before each adventure here. 

Tips for the Novice Hiker: 

  • 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)
  • Start with a fully charged cellphone
  • 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.

Feel free to contact me with specific hiking KC questions! 


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 and Richard O. Ballentine

Book Call Number: 917.7841 EDDY






Magda Born


Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101          

913-295-8250 ext 1103