Location: Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area, Blue Springs, MO
Activity: Day Hike
Trail: Bethany Falls Trail, Wildlife Habitat Trail, Hickory Grove, and Prairie Connector
Other Trailgoers: Dozens
Would I Go Again: Absolutely
Burr Oak Woods is an urban oasis! A great place to go spend some time outdoors. The trails are well maintained. The surface is gravel/crushed rock. A little hard on the feet after a while but not bad at all.
This place consists of multiple small trails; however, if you park at the Bethany Falls Trailhead parking lot, you can easily intertwine all trails without getting back or your car or having to walk on a road. Perhaps walking/hiking up to 8-10 miles.
Most of the people I encountered were walking or jogging on the paved road through the area, much more so than on the trails.
This is the kind of place that is great to go to if you just want to get outside. I personally prefer more wilderness-style trails, but this was great for a quick day hike. Just to get outdoors, clear my mind. But your not going to escape other people here. I’m going to review each trail individually. As far as the conservation area as a whole, you’ll always hear I-70 rumbling in the background. You won’t forget your still in the city but it is a nice escape. I am going to go back when there’s a lot of snow on the ground. I think it will be amazing.
BETHANY FALLS TRAIL: First, I started on what was supposed to be the best-rated trail in the KC area; the Bethany Falls trail. I came in with a distance of 1.41. The path on this trail is fairly wide. You’ll probably not need insect repellent and probably never be touched by any foliage. Its an easy trail but for the length it is, it packs a punch.
The rock formations are amazing. You’ll reach these around the halfway point. The scenery is spectacular but here you are closest to a road, so unfortunately you’ll have to put up road noise.
Shortly after the rock formations, you’ll come across a prairie-like area before going back into the woods. Walking clockwise, you can take the prairie connector to the Discovery Trail to add on some extra distance.
I liked this trail so much that I ended up walking it twice. The first time I stopped to take pictures. The second time I was trying to gain time and I did end up walking down the Prairie Connector Loop and back to the Bethany trail.
Don’t miss this trail!
HICKORY GROVE TRAIL: Next after heading back toward the parking lot by the Bethany Falls Trail, I walked to the other side of the parking area which is the trailhead for the Hickory Grove trailhead. An out-and-back trail I measured at 2.46. I had planned on walking this trail to the Wildlife Habitat Trail and then back down the Hickory Grove to the parking area. This was a great idea in theory; however, I did not think to stop at my car after the Bethany Falls Trail and grab a new bottle of water so without refreshment, I did not want to do the nearly 4.5 miles in mid July in Missouri without water…no thank you!
What I ended up doing was just walking this one out-and-back. Surprising to me, I passed the most amount of people on this trail. I’m not sure why most chose this one or perhaps this was just where I happened to meet up with other trailgoers? It is a wonderful trail, some gravel/crushed rock and maintained wonderfully. But there’s not much to mention here. Its a great trail, and I would definitely hike it.
WILDLIFE HABITAT TRAIL: I actually enjoyed this trail quite a bit, perhaps maybe my favorite of all? Its a close second to Bethany Falls and as promised, I did encounter some wildlife. I passed about a dozen turkey, 1 chipmunk, a rabbit, and a rather gorgeous-looking butterfly. This is an educational trail, but it is gorgeous. Designed to be a loop trail, walking in a one-way direction (clockwise) with a cheater loop. I did the full loop and clocked 1.48 miles. Don’t miss this one. Its spectacular. I might even venture to say that out of the 3 trails, this one had the most ascent to it. It wasn’t steep by any means, but it did pull my muscles a little on the way out. I only passed one other trailgoer who was walking counter-clockwise even though the sign says to go clockwise. Perhaps he knows that going clockwise makes it more uphill? Or perhaps he wanted to try it backwards, who knows? Wonderful trail.
PRAIRIE CONNECTOR TRAIL: A short, maybe 0.5 mile, connector trail between Bethany Falls and the Discovery Trail. I walked the connector end to end but I did not go all the way and do the Discovery Trail. Nice little change of scenery.
With my path today, I clocked 7 total miles.
If you want to get some mileage in, I would suggest this route:
Park at the Bethany Falls trailhead.
Hike the Bethany Falls trail, taking the prairie connector to the discovery trail.
Complete the discovery trail and head to the Missouri Tree Trail.
Complete the Missouri Tree Trail; taking the prairie connector back to the Bethany Falls trail.
Complete Bethany Falls.
Walk across parking lot to Hickory Grove trail.
Hike Hickory Grove to the Wildlife Habitat trail.
Complete Wildlife Habitat and go back down Hickory Grove to parking lot.
This should be a hike of approximately 8 miles in length and never having to hike the road or get in your car in between!