Follow the Indian Creek Trail east of Leawood City Park into Kansas City, MO, and you will be delighted by the foot-friendly path, the variety of wildlife, and the convenient QT at Wornell Road where you can stop to buy a bottle of water or an iced tea and use the clean restroom.
What a fantastic day for a hike. One doesn’t expect August 12 in Kansas City to be in the 70’s, sunny, and to start off as almost a long-sleeve day. This time it was, and my hiking group plus anyone else who got to spend the day outdoors were the benefactors.
We met in a parking lot in the River Quay area at Fifth and Wyandotte, on the west side of the City Market. To reach our intended hike, The Riverfront Heritage Trail, we walked north a couple of blocks to where a bridge took us to a Missouri River overlook and a tower with stairs and an elevator leading to the trail on the riverbank.
It happens to be a concrete trail (sigh—sorry feet and joints,) but good walking shoes, padded socks, and absorbing views helped me conquer thoughts of foot pain this time. While we walked, we caught different views of the river and its bridges and barges on one side and stunning views of the city on the other. Here and there we stopped briefly to read signs which describe the history of the area. Along the way we met bicyclists, runners, and other walkers who were lucky enough to be able to be on the trail during a workday. It took almost two hours to walk through Berkley Riverfront Park, to the Isle of Capri Casino parking lot, back along the river, and around the City Market area.
It was a little early, but we were ready for lunch. Luck was with us, because we found Café Al Dente. Its patio appears to be a favorite luncheon spot for the neighborhood folks and is probably popular in the evening, also. We ate inside. A family sitting at the next table told us their pizza was really good, but we chose sandwiches. Mine was the Safety Blitz, a yummy combination of turkey, ham, mayonnaise, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and pizza sauce—a kind of pizza on a bun—and now I can believe the pizza is excellent. That pizza sauce and combination of ingredients might be my favorite in the city. We all raved about our sandwiches. The smoked turkey breast is killer!
Finally, we sat down on a bench bordering a grassy park near the market area. There we met Mike, a loquacious fellow in a wheel chair, and his lovely dog, Fancy. Mike and Fancy told us all about condo living in the River Quay area and how he gets to know so many of his neighbors when they meet in the park in the evenings. Mike and Fancy are so friendly I’m sure they’d make friends anywhere, but theirs sounded like a wonderful life style to me. Mike is excited that the new streetcar system, which is being built now and will soon connect him to Union Station, will let him and Fancy travel to Hermann, Missouri, spend the day, and get back to their condo by 9:30 at night. Wow! They know how to enjoy life. If you know Mike and Fancy, tell them Joyce and Joyce say “hello.”
This week we hiked on Line Creek Trail from just north of Barry Road south and then back under the busy street to where we parked on NW 85th Street near where the trail connects with the 152 Trail along 152 Highway. We walked only about three miles out and three miles back, but the trail extends into Riverside almost to the Missouri River. We could have parked at the trailhead parking area at Gower Road and NW Waukomis Drive and may in the future. There one has the choice of heading north or south on the trail.
It was hard to believe we were in the city while we walked on this beautiful trail through woody areas, out into a meadow, and alongside the creek. Many large cairns amazed us along the way. A cairn is a mound of rocks built to mark a trail. Many can be seen along mountain trails to mark the way. They were originally used by the Celtic people to mark graves and can be works of balancing genius. The Inuit made them to resemble a human figure or a inukshuk. Some fellow hikers we met on the Line Creek Trail told us they thought Boy Scouts had built them, but people are sure to have added to them. The variety of rocky areas, short wooden fences, wide trail, and views of streams made our walk interesting as well as pretty.
Our feet and legs hurt after walking six miles or more on concrete. We had decided to give this trail a try even though my group likes natural surface or asphalt paths. Concrete is good for cyclists but not for hikers. So we stopped in at the Running Well store where we saw a shoe sale. Kathy Gates gave us all kinds of good information about walking shoes and even gave me a stride analysis to find out exactly what kind of shoes would be best for me. She urged me to join the sock of the month club, too.
Our last stop was for…you guessed it…lunch. We tried the nice BC Bistro at 7749 NW Prairie View Road (close to Barry Road.) It’s back in a little shopping center and hard to see unless you know where it is, but it’s worth the hunt. I had a turkey press sandwich which was made with goat cheese, spinach, roasted red pepper, and house dressing on sourdough bread. Really different and good. The bistro used fresh local ingredients.
Our walk this week was on part of the Gary L. Haller Trail, a north/south trail which winds it way from the Kansas (Kaw) River at its northernmost point to 119th Street in Olathe at its southern extreme. It goes all the way through Shawnee Mission Park and through or by several smaller parks.
We started at an access parking area west of I-435 on Shawnee Mission Parkway, left on Midland Drive, then an immediate right on Lawrence Road. It’s a pretty creek-side lot with shade for summertime parking. The access trail to the beautiful Gary L. Haller Trail is at the end of the parking area. At the Haller Trail, one must decide whether to turn north or south. To the south, the trail leads to Shawnee Mission Park, is hilly for a time, and then passes meadows with bluebird houses and treed areas with all kinds of deer, wild turkey, and many other animals.
We turned north. The trail is rather flat and easy to walk (no concrete except on the intersecting Clear Creek Trail; we avoid concrete, but it’s good for bikers.) There are shady stretches and sunny areas, and eventually it reaches the Kansas River, turns a loop on a small island and returns.
During the hike we met a bicyclist who stopped to talk. He stopped because one of our group jumped ten feet when he came up behind us and signaled to pass on a narrow bridge. This hiker is nervous about bikers because she’s been hit twice on our walks over the years. To read the story of her terrible troubles and the polite guy with whom we talked, go to my Cozy Mystery Blog. Bikers see KCBike.Info for good trail and ride ideas, and please remember the rules of courtesy for bikers–announce yourself to hikers, be ready to stop quickly if necessary, and pass on the left.
Long walk finished. Time to eat. We drove a short distance on Midland Drive under I-435 to Eggtc. I had the Low Carb Chicken from the lunch menu sandwich section. Actually, it’s not a sandwich at all, but a chicken breast grilled and topped with Monterey jack and mango salsa, no bread. On the side I could have had French fries or fruit, but I chose sweet potato fries–not a low-cal choice, but I love them when they are fried well–not greasy or burnt. These were delicious. My lunch was yummy.
Besides being beautiful, Leawood City Park is a useful place for hikers and bikers to meet in the parking lot near the swimming pool and tennis courts. There are three different routes one can take from the park–east on Indian Creek Trail to State Line into Missouri and on southeast toward I-435, west on Indian Creek Trail under Mission Road and on as far as Olathe, or southwest on Tomahawk Creek Trail.
The confluence of the two creeks can be seen along the way, but only if one looks for it. Especially in the summer, hikers must leave the main trail and walk toward the creek on a little unmarked side trail. Look for it not far from the bridge.
It was a lovely walking day; so after one of the group left, the rest of us walked westward on the Indian Creek Trail, crossed the road on an access trail and ended up at Small Cakes in the Mission Farms shopping center. The cupcakes are beautiful, and they have muffins, too. I guess the coffee is good, but I’m a tea drinker, and the shop has no hot or cold tea.
Today we accessed the Tomahawk Creek Trail from a parking lot just west of 69 Highway off 135th Street on Hemlock (turn south on Hemlock between the old Mimi’s/new Strouds and the Landmark Bank building.) The parking lot is on the left. The trail isn’t visible from there, but walk to the back of the lot and across a thin strip of grass to find it.
Lots of joggers, walkers, bicyclist, dog walkers, and any other kind of trail user you can name were on the trail because our usual heat and humidity took a short break today. It was in the 70’s with a nice breeze. Hurray!
West of Switzer, the trail runs along the south edge of Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead—very busy today —and St. Andrew’s Golf Club—also busy. There’s access to a restroom next to the trail on the golf club grounds. It came in handy, because by then we had walked for almost an hour and had left home earlier than that. We thank St. Andrew’s and the trail supporters who made the facility available.
On the west side of the golf course, the trail divides. One path continues to the southwest; the other heads north. We walked north up to 137th Street and then headed back. South of the Deanna Rose Farmstead someone previously built some little elf houses in several hollow trees and named that part of the trail “Hollow Tree Lane.” (See my write-up and pictures and the short story I wrote, inspired by the mysterious creator of the elf houses.) Now the clever houses are gone (sad, sad) but a reminder or two remain.
After the hike? Food, of course. A new area called Prairie Fire became our destination for lunch in a place where neither of us had been. There is a multistoried parking garage adjacent to the restaurants and recreation venues. It’s a good thing, because multitudes of people found this area before we did, and there wasn’t one parking space available on the street. We roamed through Pinstripes. It’s a gigantic, gorgeous new building which features bowling, bocce ball, and a bistro (plus bars, meeting rooms, lounge areas, and a huge outdoor eating space.) Our food was average-to-high priced but delicious. I had the Tuesday soup of the day, stuffed green pepper soup. Yum. And the bread sticks with pesto oil for the table tasted terrific to us starving trail walkers. We asked for more bread.
Down the street and around the corner from Pinstripes is the amazing-looking Museum at Prairie Fire. It’s associated with the natural history museum in New York City. That and the cinema, the brewery, and the rest of the restaurants and shops present reasons for future visits to Prairie Fire.
Lying northeast of Liberty, MO, Excelsior Springs is a small town with a grand history. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the town attracted visitors from all over the country because of its mineral springs.
Excelsior Springs isn’t hard to find, but my buddy and I drove right past it on our way there. We were on 69 Highway and needed to veer right on Highway 10, which leads into town. When we realized the town wasn’t appearing in the appropriate number of miles, my friend saw a ReMax office and decided we should stop and ask for a map. Great idea! The super-friendly Realtor at the front desk not only gave us a map on which she marked the shortest route back to town, but also she gave us a brochure about Excelsior Springs, recommended places for lunch, and then, after we left the building, she came out and told us to follow her. She led us all the way to a parking place beside the trail we intended to walk.
I said, “Thank you for going out of your way to help us.”
She said, “That’s what we do.”
I don’t know if she meant ReMax agents or Excelsior Springs citizens by “we,” but either way her gesture made our day. As a matter of fact, everyone in town turned out to be friendly and help make our day as we explored the town’s special places.
We walked the East Valley Park Trail and the Isley Park Trail below Siloam Mountain. Mountain? That’s what they call the hill formed by the Fork Fishing River bluffs which has been turned into a lovely park with a well-maintained trail, part of which has been made more accessible with a boardwalk. The trail is easy and interesting. It makes a loop through town close to the Elms Hotel where we detoured long enough to see that famous landmark.
The Elms, originally built to house the crowds who came to town to be invigorated by its healing mineral waters, fell victim to fires, bankruptcy, condo-izing, and neglect over the years, but its present incarnation is spectacular.
We hiked the trail loop twice and then looked for a luncheon spot on Broadway, the one-street downtown. On the way, we couldn’t resist stopping in at a popcorn shop called BobKorn. There are ten or more kettle corn flavors featured on their shelves daily and several flavors of Italian ices. We vowed to have NO treats before lunch—but we did each buy a bag of corn to take home after we merely tasted (tasting doesn’t count as eating, right?) a sample of almost every flavor. Yummy.
The Willow Spring Mercantile was one of the lunch spots recommended by our real estate agent friend, and we came to it next. The street level part of the store specializes in regional wines and beers as well as other goodies. The proprietor can tell you all about the different Missouri grapes and the wines made from them. The store has about fifty different beers from nine or ten Missouri breweries. We ate our fresh lunches in the quaint downstairs restaurant where wine pairings are listed on the menu. Would have loved to indulge, but I had to drive home. Besides the yearly wine festival in town, The Mercantile sponsors a Missouri wine tour for two days in early November including a train trip to the region, two nights at a B&B, and all meals. It sounds like fun. And no driving required.