With over 80 local hiking trail recommendations and 11,000 followers on social media, Take a Hike, KC has become one of Kansas City’s most popular trail guides. Girl Scout Lizzie Place started the Take a Hike, KC website to create a comprehensive guide to trails across Kansas City with the goal of making hiking destinations accessible to everyone.
Since Take a Hike, KC launched in 2021, Lizzie has become somewhat of a local hiking spokesperson collaborating with local organizations on hiking events and programs. These have included working with the Kansas City Parks & Recreation and Jackson County Parks & Recreation on the annual Walktober program, and the Heartland Conservation Alliance on its Summer Adventure Challenge in 2022. In 2023, Take a Hike, KC and Kansas City Parks & Recreation launched the first comprehensive Kansas City hiking patch program.
Greenability reached out to Take a Hike, KC founder, Lizzie Place for hiking inspiration for 2023.
Q. When did you create Take a Hike and why?
A. During the initial days of the pandemic in 2020, all I wanted was to be outside. It was depressing to sit on Zoom (for school) for hours. I walked often, but quickly realized the lack of comprehensive, accurate information about local trails. Because our metro straddles two states, and trail information is available from the administering body, it was difficult to find a comprehensive list. I began dreaming of consolidating all information in one accessible place.
I created Take A Hike, KC as my Gold Award project for Girl Scouts beginning in 2020. It is by far the biggest and most complex work I’ve ever attempted. Its impact extends beyond anything I ever imagined.
Q. How did the project impact your life?
A. So far, I have hiked 200+ miles along 80+ trails, and created hundreds of online posts, stories, and tweets. Take A Hike, KC has truly been a most amazing part of my life for almost three years now.
Q. Have you always enjoyed hiking?
A. I have always loved hiking. I’m thankful to be in a family that prioritizes being outside! One of my earliest memories is hiking to Inspiration Point above Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons on a family trip. My dad took me on my first multi-day backpacking trip in the Ozark National Forest (organized through my local Girl Scout Council) when I was in eighth grade.
Q. What advice would you give to get started?
A. Put on a pair of comfortable shoes, grab a water bottle, and choose a trail! Truly, there is no expensive or extraordinary requirement for hiking. If you aren’t in great shape or haven’t hiked before, try a paved trail, and walk out for 10 minutes, and walk back for 10 minutes. A short hike is better than no hike!
Q. What tips do you have for winter hiking?
A. I generally choose paved trails in winter, to protect the more-fragile dirt trails through all the weather changes. (So thankful to all our local Parks & Rec departments who clear the ice and snow from paved trails!) But if the ground is frozen hard, a dirt trail is fine. Urban Trail Co has a great status website for many dirt trails locally.
While winter hikes may need to be shorter, due to the cold, it’s also true that you can see much on a winter hike that you cannot see in summer. For instance, I love the huge white branches of the sycamore trees in winter. Briarcliff Greenway Trail in Kansas City, MO has amazing huge sycamores.
Eagles in January are so easy to spot in the KC area, and this year they seem particularly abundant near our rivers and lakes.
Q. Do you have any tips on hiking with kids?
A. Again, there are really no requirements for hiking, even with kids. Start small and try to get outside regularly. If you have little kids, a stroller is great on a paved trail. One of my favorite trails is a short paved walk in Lansing, KS at Angel Falls Trail. It goes straight to a lovely waterfall.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A. There are enormous physical, mental, and social benefits to walking outside. I urge everyone, of all ages and abilities, to take a hike, as often as you can. I love this short video on the virtues of hiking for everyone:
More on Take a Hike, KC
- Discover the top hiking trails across the metro including a printable PDF of 50 free hikes at takeahikekc.wordpress.com. Each trail review includes helpful information such as directions and access, wildlife and scenery, distances, if dogs are allowed, and other notes.
- Hike all year long. Next week, Greenability will share Take a Hike, KC’s top winter hikes.
- Earn the KCMO 6-District Hiker Patch when you hike a different trail in each of Kansas City, MO’s six council districts. This free patch program is in partnership with Kansas City Parks & Recreation.
Photos courtesy of Lizzie Place