By Sarah Benal
When Lizzie Place needed a project for her Girl Scout Gold Award she looked to nature for inspiration. The result is Take A Hike, KC, a resource that encourages everyone in the Kansas City area to explore the trails in the region. The maps and the website are free and include descriptions, advice, directions and parking, and trail challenge level notes. Take A Hike, KC is an important project dedicated to encouraging more people to get outside and build appreciation for Kansas City trails, parks and the Blue River. Through Kansas Citians’ protection and appreciation, natural spaces will grow healthier and make a prosperous Kansas City."
Place hopes those who use the website or the free maps will benefit both physically and mentally. Place is an avid hiker, inspired by her love of walking and her appreciation for Kansas City’s natural locations.
“Most people probably think of Colorado or California as great places to hike – but there are incredibly beautiful (and challenging!) hikes here in the Kansas City region too,” Place said.
Take A Hike, KC was built through collaboration between Place and other trail experts and enthusiasts, who were more than happy to share their knowledge and encourage communities to get outside. People like Judith Penner at Loose Park, Bill Maasen and Devin Wetzel at Johnson County Parks & Rec and Stephen Van Rhein at KC Parks offered their advice and guidance for the project. But Place discovered she still had a lot to learn. By interviewing experts and asking for recommendations from the public Place learned even more trails in the area, including a new favorite in Hidden Valley Park.
“It is inspiring to be part of a group so committed to protecting and restoring the beautiful natural places in our city,” Place explained.
The maps and brochures were created by Place, and were paid for through fundraising efforts. They are free and available for everyone. So far Place has distributed them to schools, scout camps, nature centers and at REI in Overland Park. Keep an eye out for Lead to Read KC, who will include the maps in their community outreach programs this summer.
Place was surprised when someone didn’t know about a park or natural area, and hopes that people will use the maps and brochures as resources to learn more and explore the spaces. She also continues to welcome recommendations for new places on the site, expanding recognition not only for the parks and trails, but also for the good work done by those who love and maintain them.
Take A Hike, KC will continue to expand through the summer and Place hopes to use it with high school hiking groups, who can offer their insight, recommendations and advice on social media. Take A Hike, KC is a good resource for other organizations such as scout troops and HCA volunteers and partners to cultivate an appreciation for the outdoors. Place explained she distributes maps all the time, and encourages anyone to share locations where she can drop off the maps or hand them out for free.
“The KC region has miles and miles of beautiful, wild, walkable places. Hiking a great trail is free. Hiking as huge physical, mental, and social benefits, and hiking is accessible to everyone of every age,” Place shares. “We are all so lucky to live in this lovely region.”
Print out a map at takehikekc.org, or follow on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @takeahikekc for more trail recommendations!
Take A Hike, KC includes Jerry Smith Park, HCA’s Exploring Roots Summer Adventure Challenge July trail.
Lizzie also recommends:
Burr Oak Woods – Bethany Falls Trail
Shawnee Mission Park – Mill Creek Loop
Lexington Lake Park in De Soto – Indigo Loop