Weston Bluffs Trail is near the town of Weston in Missouri, about a 30-minute drive from Kansas City, Kansas. The trail follows the Missouri River and the historic, well-marked path of Lewis and Clark in Weston Bend State Park. This is a great family educational outing. 

View of the Missouri river through trees

There is a view of the Missouri River on the left. The Weston trail sits on loess soil, dusty, pale yellow, fine grains of wind-blown sediment which deposited during the late Ice Age 10,000 years ago. Loess soil covers only 10% of the Earth now and can be located only in Missouri, the Yellow River in China, and the Rhine River in Germany. Loess is some of the most agriculturally productive soil in the world. 

Map of the Missouri Bluffs Trail
16600 MO-45, Weston, Missouri 64098 Park hours: 7 am to sunset, daily, year-round

The easy trail is about 2 miles one way and welcomes hikers and bicyclists alike. The trail features a scenic overlook of the Missouri River (2,341 mi), the longest river in the United States, which is already large at this point. It is joined by the Kansas River a few miles downstream. 

Weston’s Rich History  

The history of this region is vast. Excavations have revealed early settlements by indigenous people from the Paleo-Indian period, beginning circa 11,000 BCE. The Missouri Indians first came to the attention of Europeans in 1673 through the account of the Louis Joliet expedition. The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped in the Weston, MO area on July 2, 1804, and wrote in their notes about an abandoned village. 

The Louisiana Purchase opened the territory for the eventual settling of Weston. 1840 the first tobacco crop was harvested and floated down the Missouri River. Weston’s heyday was the year 1849 when Weston was the steamboat headquarters of the west and welcomed over 225 steamboats annually.  

Enslaved African Americans worked in the tobacco fields making Weston one of the most prosperous river towns in Missouri and the world’s leading producer of industrial hemp and twist tobacco. By 1855 Weston was a major river port and grew to a population of 5000, making it the second largest Missouri city after St. Louis. (The current population of Weston is 1700). 

The oldest existing building in town dates back to the year 1845. In 1881, a major flood shifted the Missouri River channel, and the port was lost. The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act essentially made growing marijuana illegal. Even today, Platte County continues to produce about 2.8 million pounds of tobacco annually. 

The 3rd Juneteenth Celebration

Juneteenth Heritage Jubilee flyer

Weston’s Juneteenth black heritage celebration was spearheaded by one of Kansas City’s most successful jazz artists, Angela Hagenbach. She wanted to honor her own family roots, which, after years of research, led her to Weston. She said that “although multiple locations in and around Weston eloquently extol Weston’s past with historical markers and signage, none of them reflect the third of Weston’s forgotten Black population.” Hagenbach further believes that “Knowing one’s history, the good with the bad, helps us understand ourselves and each other so that we can move forward, together as a community, as a country.” 

The 3rd Juneteenth celebration to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States will be held in Weston on Sat Jun 17, 2023, from 10:00 am – 2 pm. 

Learn more about the 2023 Juneteenth celebrations here

Map of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Along the way, you will learn about the rich history of Lewis and Clark’s journey as they traveled on the Missouri River during their 1804-1806 expedition. 

sign for the Weston river landing

The historic Weston river landing is the entrance to the town of Weston. 

House on a hill with a white goat in the yard

The historical city of Weston still has attractive historic homes and plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining.  

signage with historical information about Weston

Along the trail, you will find signage with historical information about the historically significant town of Weston.

sign about the history of Lewis and Clark

Six interpretive exhibits along the trail highlight the discovery voyage of Lewis and Clark when they camped here on July 2, 1804.

Doniphan family grave marker

In a nearby Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, established in 1840, one may pay homage to early settlers born almost three centuries ago. The African-American section has 400 graves of enslaved people and their family decedents. Graves of family decedents of notable people from our region include the Boone, Lee, and Price families and the relatives of the infamous Buffalo Bill Cody.  

Sign detailing native american heritage

This sign highlights the rich Native American history of the region

sign detailing the natural hazards found during the Lewis and Clark expedition

Read about the struggle with nature that Lewis and Clark experienced during their voyage 

Springtime on the Weston Trail 

Signs of spring are hard to miss. Identifying plants and butterflies can be a fun family activity. 

pink flowers against dried leaves
Dutchman’s Breeches
yellow and black butterfly
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
small yellow flowers
Pale Corydalis
black and white striped butterfly
Zebra swallowtail
white daisy-like flowers
small pink flowers
Virginia Spring Beauty
small white flowers
Cutleaf Toothwort
small white flowers with yellow centers
False rue-anemone
green leaves peeking up from a bed of dried leaves
Just emerging wild ginger


Weston Bend State Park

The Black Ancestors Awareness Campaign of Weston

New Weston group recovering forgotten Black history

Lewis and Clark: A Missouri River Adventure

Did You Know… Marijuana Was Once a Legal Cross-Border Import?

Magda Born


Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101      

913-295-8250 ext 1103