Exercise & Fitness

Happy Trails Entice Fitness Fans in South Kansas City

For an invigorating run, walk or ride during a crisp autumn day, you can’t do much better than the extensive trails in Overland Park and Leawood.

Miles of trail come to life this autumn for both city dwellers and suburban residents.

One of the great things about living in Kansas City is that you can enjoy the fast-paced, urban climate of downtown while being minutes away from scenic hiking and biking trails and breathtaking gardens in neighboring suburbs. With nearly 17 miles of trail, leisurely walkers, marathon runners and cyclists of all ages can enjoy the changing leaves of fall right outside their front door. And the best part: they don’t cost a thing!

The Indian Creek Trail is open from 5 a.m.–10 p.m. year round, starting in Overland Park at Foxhill South Park, with a trailhead and parking lot at 109th St. and El Monte. From there, the paved trail winds along the creek south and west to Forest Creek Park at 125th St. and Pflumm Road. A connecting link continues south along Quivira Road toward the Tomahawk Creek Trail via 127th St. and Nieman Road. The trail is mostly flat, with a few steep grades at various locations. The trail is shared among walkers, hikers, bicyclists, strollers, wheelchairs, skaters and any other non-motorized vehicle. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash.

While the trail winds through wooded areas, it is always wise to wear sunscreen and carry water with you. A good rule of thumb is to take in between 5 and 12 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during physical activity. Wear loose fitting, breathable clothing, sturdy closed toe shoes and a hat or visor for the areas of the trail without shade. Make sure you know how far you want to go and set a turn-around point before heading out. You can download a map of the Indian Creek and connecting trails at opkansas.org. While the trail is patrolled by the Overland Park Police Department, there is not consistent lighting so carry a flashlight or wear reflective gear if you will be out during dusk or dark. The trail is not visible from the road for most of the miles, so be aware of your surroundings and bring a buddy.

The trail connects numerous parks with amenities such as baseball and soccer fields, shelters, playgrounds, tennis courts and the Leawood Aquatic Center. It also brings you near retail, dining and commercial areas such as shops at One Nineteen in Leawood and Corporate Woods.

Picturesque wooden bridges weave you back and forth along Indian Creek, while deer, birds and other wildlife appear from among vibrant red and orange trees. With mile markers every half mile, challenge your friends to a bike race or set a new distance goal for yourself and jog to the finish. Many turns in the trail open to large grassy areas and fields, so bring a Frisbee or ball and glove for a game of catch. If breaking a sweat isn’t your thing, pack a picnic, park at one of seven trailheads along the way and walk to a pavilion or bench overlooking the water.

Grab a friend, your family or favorite pup and hit the trails this fall to experience the peace, quiet and beauty of the local trail systems. There is something for everyone to enjoy, from miles of flat pavement for an intense workout to calming views for a relaxed stroll. The Indian Creek Trail is one-of-a kind, and just another reason why Kansas City is wonderful place to call home.

Plan on Visiting the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens

Nearly five additional miles of paved and wood chip hiking trails wind their way through the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens and across two 75-foot bridges that span Wolf Creek. The 300-acre property offers unique and unexpected pleasures from the colorful wildflowers to the sparking ponds and waterfalls.

A half-mile flat asphalt road allows for easy walks, with plenty of benches to rest and take in the surroundings, while challenging trails curve along the limestone bluffs and through the hillside groves.

Eight natural ecosystems and nine gardens make up the park, including the Cohen Iris Garden, Erickson Water Garden, Train Garden and Children’s Discovery Garden. One could easily spend an entire afternoon here and not see everything it has to offer.

The Arboretum hosts seasonal programs and events, and guided tours are available by appointment. The Arboretum & Botanical Gardens is open seven days a week, and admission is $3 for visitors 13 and over, $1 for visitors 6 to 12, and free for 5 and under. Each Tuesday, admission to the Arboretum is free all day.