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Located outside of bustling Kansas City, this beautiful, partially paved, 17.5-mile riverside pathway is a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Unlike many of the rural trails that you find in Missouri, the Little Blue Trace Trail runs through several busy suburbs of Kansas City, causing the corridor itself to be relatively populated at all times of day. The trail is composed of two distinct sections, a 15 mile northern section, with each end at the Little Blue Trace County Park.
The southern trailhead of the northern section is not marked with signage and there is no parking, just a place to pull off the road and enter through a gate. However, 3.7 miles north of the trail’s southern terminus, you’ll find parking in a bustling shopping and dining area called Hartman Heritage Center, located off S. Little Blue Parkway just north of I-70.
The southern 2.5 mile section of the trail, located just about 3 miles south of where the northern section leaves off traverses again along the Little Blue River and through another aptly-named section of the Little Blue Trace Park before reaching its southernmost terminus along S Noland Rd.
The trail has excellent picnic and bathroom amenities all along the way, and there are several strategically placed emergency call buttons should trail users find themselves needing help.
Lined with yellow wildflowers in the summer, the trail passes under several old train trestles and more modern overpasses. At mile marker 7, be sure to stop for a picture at a small waterfall. Here you may even catch a glimpse of a pair of resident snapping turtles. Also of note, several well-marked parking accesses dot the second half of the trail, making it very easy to begin your trip at a variety of points along the way.
Take caution because a couple of times on the trail you will have to make a steep climb up to a main road where you take a brief off-road paved path to return to the trail via a fairly steep drop-off with turns. The trail is plenty wide and nicely paved and maintained in each of these instances, but it is still important to be careful of your speed. The trail ends in a nice park with parking.
The closest parking lot to the southern end of the trail is in Hartman Heritage Center, a shopping and dining area. From I-70, take Exit 17 for Little Blue Pkwy. Head north on the parkway; shortly thereafter, you will come to E. Jackson Drive. Take a left onto E. Jackson Drive to enter the commercial area. On E. Jackson Drive, take your first right turn into a parking lot; toward the back of this lot, you’ll see a playground, portable toilet, and the trail access point. To reach the southern trailhead, travel 3.7 miles southwest along the trail to Phelps Road at NW Lee’s Summit Road.
To reach the northern trailhead from Independence, travel eastbound on US 24 until you see the exit for N. Twyman Road. Take a left and stay on N. Twyman Road for 1.1 miles. Turn left onto E. Blue Mills Road and continue on the roadway for 0.9 mile. Take a left onto E. Old Blue Mills Road and the trailhead will appear immediately on your left.
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