Biking the South KC Trails
Photos and story by Jill Draper
Along with improvements being made for motor traffic on I-435, other projects are planned beneath the interstate to make it easier to walk or bike through South Kansas City in a north-south direction.
Existing sidewalks that pass under the I-435 bridges at Holmes and Wornall roads will be brought up to ADA-compliant standards, while a new sidewalk on the east side of State Line Road will be built. It will extend from Carondelet Drive near St. Joseph Medical Center to Indian Creek, where a paved trail goes behind Jasper’s Restaurant and other shops in the complex.
The trail, named Indian Creek Greenway, is a popular (but not crowded) place for bicyclists and walkers. It runs from Leawood City Park to Watts Mill Shopping Center, then heads northeast where it crosses beneath Wornall and Holmes roads before paralleling Bannister Road for a short distance.
Indian Creek merges at that point with the Blue River, and the trail becomes the Blue River Greenway as it heads upstream in a southerly direction, meandering past Alex George Lake and skirting the edge of Minor Park. There it’s easy to take the ramp to a wide, separated sidewalk on Red Bridge Road which heads west up a slight hill to the Red Bridge Shopping Center.
To make a loop, continue on Red Bridge Road past the shopping center until it reaches State Line. Since the new sidewalk is not yet constructed, keep west, riding into Kansas for about one-half mile until you reach a spur that connects to the Indian Creek Greenway Trail in Leawood City Park. Heading east the trail provides glimpses of Indian
Creek and the Leawoof Dog Park. After passing beneath State Line Road, it curves in a cloverleaf up a steep but mercifully short hill to street level before another hill leads downward back behind the Watts Mill Shopping Center.
Riding the entire 10-mile loop will take the average cyclist a little over an hour, while serious Spandex-clad cyclists will be able to do it more quickly. The loop may be too ambitious for families with young children on training wheels, but there are plenty of places to park, ride for as long as you want, then turn around and come back.
Some highlights along the way:
- Just before the trail goes beneath 103rd Street, stop near the picnic tables to view old millstones like the ones used to grind corn and wheat at this location for more than 100 years until 1939. Then glance toward the creek where it ripples over a small rock ledge—this spot becomes a torrent during heavy rainfall.
- Further along, the Linden Hill Homes Association has posted a sign honoring Jim Bridger, an explorer who built a trading post and acquired property near the creek in 1855. A colorful personality, he communicated in English, Spanish, French and some Indian languages but could neither read nor write. Nicknamed “Old Gabe,” he was known as a great storyteller.
- Where Indian Creek joins the Blue River, another section of the trail heads north across the water to 95th Street. Eventually this section will connect with the Trolley Track Trail in Waldo.
- A short detour at Minor Park will take you to the Old Red Bridge where more than 2,500 couples (and sometimes entire families) have locked their love onto the metal railings.
- Decorating the newer bridge, a series of 10 panels tells about individuals who had ties to the nation’s westward expansion in the 1800s. Thousands of pioneers crossed the river near here as they traveled on the Santa Fe, California or Oregon trails. This crossing was the only place where the three trails intersected.