Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three kid-friendly hikes in Kansas to explore with babies and young children.
The typical assumption is that Kansas is flat, and while that’s mostly true, the landscape makes it a perfect place to hike for families with young children. Its flatlands and rolling hills offer just enough of a variety in terrain to keep littles interested and stay on their feet a bit longer.
The following three hikes in Kansas offer families of young children great trails to explore in the open prairie grassland or under the canopy of trees. They’re stroller-friendly and offer activities for the kiddos, such as outdoor classrooms and water play, as well as year-round activities for the entire family.
Olathe Prairie Center (Olathe, KS)
Located 30 minutes from Kansas City, Olathe Prairie Center is a 330-acre reserve that offers a 1.5-mile trail that winds through tall prairie grassland and woods. There are six ponds on the property, a small lake for fishing and a creek to explore fossils imbedded in the limestone floor. The well-maintained trails are mostly gravel and dirt with sloping inclines that are easy on little feet or while carrying a baby. Tip: If you visit in summer, be prepared to see native grasslands as tall as your living room. Read more about the trail in the Family Trail Guide.
I love going there throughout the year and seeing the changes by season. It’s also very peaceful and quiet. More than once, I didn’t realize how stressed I was feeling until I stepped out of the car, took a deep breath and only heard the birds and the wind. —Kristin Fitchman, Kansas City BA
Photo credit: Kristin Fitchman
Overland Park Arboretum and Botanicals (Overland Park, KS)
The Arboretum offers visitors nearly six miles of paved and wood chip hiking trails. The trails wind through the park’s manicured gardens and lead into the woods. With the various trails system, you have the option to hike on pavement or mulch. Paved trails circle around two ponds, through the gardens and loops into the woods where sculptures and a whimsical fairy village dot the path. On the mulch trails, two 75-foot wooden bridges cross over Wolf Creek and connect to the south bank for a mile loop on limestone bluffs. For a bit of adventure, take the Rocky Ridge Trail for an additional mile and explore the prairie area. Tip: Wander deep in the woods to find a fair maiden carved into the trunk of a tree, welcoming hikers to her kingdom.
Our favorite time to visit the Arboretum is during the Luminary Walk. It starts Thanksgiving weekend and goes for a few weeks after. The Luminary Walk is so magical; you walk about a mile in the dark, lit only by luminaries. We like to go two hours before the event (to beat the crowds) and walk the trails for a bit of peace and quiet before seeing the luminaries. It’s an annual family tradition and a great way to jumpstart the holiday season. —Vong Hamilton
Photo credit: Vong Hamilton
Black Hoof Park (Lenexa, KS)
About 30 miles west of Kansas City is Black Hoof Park, a 160-acre park featuring two miles of trails for walking and biking; playgrounds and shelters for families; and Lake Lenexa, which offers visitors fishing or boating activities. The trail is stroller-friendly and is half paved, half crushed gravel. The trail takes you past the impressive dam and spillway, which is beautiful whether it’s dry or overflowing. Take time to walk down and admire the dam from below as well as from above, which is also a great stopping point for snacks and enjoying the breeze passing through on a hot day. Tip: There’s a large playground conveniently placed under shade trees for the kiddos as a reward for hiking. It includes a sandbox and water structure with ankle-deep water running through that’s safe for even the littlest hiker. You can read more about the trail in the Family Trail Guide.
I love the varied terrain, the choice of playgrounds and the water. It’s the perfect loop for getting some exercise and exploring with your child. —Lisa Toler Fowles
Each of my four kids love this park. There is so much variation from nature with lake and logs to structural play. I love the wide walkway next to the lake for strollers and scooters. My kids get bored with other parks, but when we go to Black Hoof Park, it is an all-day adventure minus boredom. —Missy Bailey
Photo credit: Vong Hamilton
More Resources for Families with Young Children
Kansas offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- Hike it Baby Family Trail Guide
- Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
- 3 Great Hikes in New Jersey for Young Children
- 3 Beautiful Hikes in Washington State for Young Children
What are your favorite hikes in Kansas for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!