May is National Bike Month, and with the weather finally warming up in the Midwest, now is a great time to get out your bikes and hit the trails. Start this riding season with us on May 6, 2023, at Kansas City’s Elmwood Bike Rodeo, a community event promoting bicycle safety and education hosted by the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation. We’ve also made a list of some of the best trails in and around the Kansas City Metro to help you continue biking after the rodeo ends.
Stretching over 43 acres of land, historic Elmwood Cemetery has served Kansas City since 1872. The cemetery is the final resting place of over 30,000 individuals, including Kansas City’s first mayor and members of the Meyer, Loose, and Atkins families. While a cemetery might not be your first choice for a biking trail, Elmwood Cemetery offers scenic rides on closed, paved roads with gentle curves and no vehicle traffic. These conditions make it perfect for young riders to practice, which is why it was chosen as the location for MoBikeFed’s first annual Elmwood Bike Rodeo. The rodeo will host bike decorating stations, bike safety classes, and a giveaway of 150 bikes and helmets on a first-come, first-served basis to children aged 6-12. There will also be face painting, inflatables, and a free picnic lunch served to the community. Connect with a variety of local vendors such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City Zoo, and more at this wonderful event.
Gary L. Haller Trail
This 17.5 mile paved trail is located in the Mill Creek Streamway Park, and runs from Nelson Island on the Kansas River to Olathe, KS while winding through Shawnee and Lenexa. With multiple shelters, picnic areas, restrooms, drinking fountains and playgrounds along this route, it is a perfect trail for families. For more adventurous riders, this trail connects to Shawnee Mission Park, which offers mountain biking trails.
Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail
Following along the banks of Indian Creek and spanning both Missouri and Kansas is the Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail. This trail connects to multiple parks and other bike trails, making it a great choice for both families looking for a day of fun and riders looking for exercise. It is also a good option for commuters, as it links 4 different communities, multiple schools, and office buildings. From the Missouri side, the trail connects to the Blue River Parkway Trail from where Indian Creek connects to Blue River. Continuing west across the Kansas state line, the trail connects to Leawood City Park and the Tomahawk Creek Trail, then passes through multiple neighborhood parks in Overland Park. Eventually, this route leads through Olathe to the MidAmerica Nazarene University campus, then winds south before ending in Hampton Park.
Riverfront Heritage Trail
Showcasing beautiful views of the Missouri River, Berkley Riverfront Park, and access to the River Market district, this downtown bike trail would make a daytrip for out-of-town visitors or a nice date for couples. Parking is available at the Berkley Riverfront Park, and the trail goes through the park as it follows the Missouri River. After passing under the Heart of America Bridge, make sure to stop at the Town of Kansas Bridge for a panorama of the Missouri River. From here, riders can make their way to the River Market district for a variety of restaurants and attractions. Past this point, the trail splits south into downtown or west over the state line. Beginners beware, the southern route features sections on-road and a steep hill, but it leads to the bluff Lewis and Clark stopped at on their return trip of their expedition. Mulkey Square Park and Jarboe Park are also connected to this southern section. Heading west leads to the Riverfront Heritage Trailhead where a Santa Fe railcar and sculptures commemorate Kansas City’s history. Once the trail crosses the Woodswether Bridge, which has sculptures and great views, riders can connect to the Jersey Creek Trail, Huron Park, or the Lewis and Clark Kaw Point Park. Learn more about the trail by visiting Kansas City's Parks and Recreation website.
Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail
Following the path of Kansas City’s last streetcar, the Trolley Track Trail offers a nice respite in the heart of the city. Green space and small parks line the crushed limestone (and in some spots paved) trailway as it passes through the Waldo, Brookside, and Plaza neighborhoods. This trail is great for locals looking for some exercise or to commute to some of the local shops and restaurants nestled along this trail. The southeastern trailhead starts at 85th and Prospect, and eventually connects to the Brush Creek Trail in the Plaza area.
Rock Island Spur of Katy Trail State Park
Looking to escape the city and soak up some nature while on your bike ride? The Rock Island Spur of the Katy Trail covers 47.5-miles through rural Missouri and offers views of prairies, farmlands, and woodlands. This section of the Katy Trail took over the defunct Rock Island Railway from Pleasant Hill to Windsor, where it connects to the 240 mile stretch of the Katy Trail that runs from Clinton to Machens in St. Charles County. Taking this trail would be a great start to a camping trip across the state, as the Windsor trailhead has campgrounds available. Riders should note, hybrid bikes are recommended for this crushed limestone path as the surface can get soft after a rain and make it difficult for road bikes.
Longview Lake Trail
This trail at Longview Lake in Lee’s Summit is the perfect way to spend an afternoon with the family. At 6.5 miles, the trail here is well maintained crushed limestone that links multiple picnic shelters along the lakeside. Plenty of playgrounds are available to keep younger kids occupied, and picnic tables make it easy for snack breaks. To make a whole day at the lake, take advantage of the pontoon boat rentals, fishing spots, swimming beach, golf course, and campgrounds.
Blue River Greenway/Parkway Trails
Located in the Red Bridge area of South Kansas City are the Blue River Greenway and the Blue River Parkway Trails. The Greenway trail stretches 5.5 miles from Minor Park, passing Alex George Lake and Blue River Park, then up to connect with the Indian Creek Bike/Hike Trail. Featuring 6’ wide paved trails and access to the historic Red Bridge, this is an easy trail to recommend for a relaxing ride. On the contrary, for mountain bike riders looking for a more extreme challenge, the Blue River Parkway Trails are your best bet. The Parkway trails line both sides of the Blue River, and offer sections ranging in difficulty from easy and smooth loops to technical climbs with large rock obstacles. Maps of the trail sections and their difficulty ratings can be found on their Facebook page: @brptrails. But be warned, the Parkway trails are maintained by volunteers, and some of the west side trails can get overgrown in the summer if they are short on help.
The Kansas City area has a bike trail for everyone, whether you plan on exploring the city or want to escape to the countryside. So what are you waiting for? Get your bike carrier installed and try out one of these top spots!