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The Exploring Roots Summer Adventure Challenge encourages everyone to discover nature in the city

By Sarah Benal

On July 1 Heartland Conservation Alliance launched the annual Exploring Roots Summer Adventure Challenge. This self-led Challenge helps groups and individuals discover trails, prairies, glades and other wild areas along the Blue River with hikes and park adventures for all skill levels. The July summer adventure starts at Hidden Valley Park.

This program is the result of a merger between former nonprofit, Exploring Roots and Heartland Conservation Alliance, allowing the two groups to combine resources, talent and experience to improve the quality of life in communities across the metropolitan area.

"The Exploring Roots Summer Adventure Challenge provides folks in Kansas City with an excellent opportunity to discover and explore local trails," said Jalen Holloway, HCA Outdoor Education Coordinator and Blue River Nature Guide. "This self-guided experience allows participants to decide how to interact with the trail, which makes the event different for everyone. These types of events are important for cities because they provide more opportunities for the public to engage in natural spaces."

At the heart of the partnership is the love of nature and the desire to help others become stewards of Kansas City’s natural places. Participants will have the whole month of July to explore Hidden Valley Park, but in case of rain, it’s important to let the paths dry so that too many hikers don’t churn up mud and cause erosion.

One way to be a good steward is to make sure the trail is open by checking Urban Trail Co.’s Trail Status page. As the sun returns, you may be tempted to walk on the trail sides to keep your shoes dry, but doing so can loosen the soil and ruin the trail others worked to construct. Being vigilant helps protect the trails and sends a ‘thank you’ to all the organizations that work to provide places like Hidden Valley to the public.

After hikers have completed this month's trail, they can check out Take A Hike, KC for more suggestions of trails in Kansas and Missouri. Lizzie Place, the founder of Take A Hike, KC, started the project in 2021 as a Girl Scout Gold Award Project. In previous years, HCA has collaborated with Place to provide information for everyone looking to take a break and take a hike.

HCA and our Alliance Partners have been working to increase more equitable access to nature for all Kansas Citians and to raise awareness of the benefits nature provides people. Sign up to join the challenge today!

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