The Good - very well maintained, good for families and dogs on leashes.
The Bad - popular destination so avoid weekends if you like the solitude of a solo hike.
The Ugly - OK, nothing on this trail is ugly; as a matter of fact the area from the parking lot to the Sculpture Loop is nicely landscaped with flowers and any trail you choose will be a fantastic walk in the flora and fauna of eastern Kansas.
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Family Friendly: This trail system is easy, provides multiple route opportunities and feels remote, even though you're never far from the trailhead or road.
This is one of Overland Park's premier parks and trail system, on just over 300 acres located on 179th St. approximately 1 mile west of Hwy.69. There is a $3 entrance fee. Just inside the park is a visitor center with displays and information about the trails, sculptures and plants. Clean indoor toilets and drinking water is available for water bottles.
The walks immediately west and south of the visitor center are paved and designed to be handicapped accessible. There are eight distinct garden areas on the westward leg of this paved route, each with unique settings and plant types. A 3/8 mile asphalt loop south of the visitor center winds through the trees allowing access to the sculpture garden with 30 unique sculptures to enjoy.
Access the Cottonwood Trail
from this asphalt loop, about midway around on the southern side. The trails from this point on are all wood mulch covered and are wide. After crossing Wolf Creek the trail splits. To the right is Bluff Loop
. To the left is Rocky Ridge
Trail. They meet on the far west end of the Park so they form a complete loop. Taking either one will get you back to the split at the bridge over Wolf Creek. Water coolers are stationed along the trail in a few places.
Runners and walkers only on these trails, with no bikes or equestrians allowed.
Expect a variety of native birds and mammals, with a few small snakes scurrying to avoid you in the wooded areas. Butterflies in the spring are plentiful as are attractive wildflowers along the route.