Doggin’ Kansas City: Where To Hike With Your Dog When In The City Of Fountains
By Doug Gelbert
If Loose Park were a dog, it might be a poodle. The centerpiece of the 80-acre park at Wornall Road and 51st Street donated by Ella Loose in 1929 is an elegant rose garden encircled by classical walkways. The manicured grounds are a far cry from October 22, 1864 when the Battle of Westport – â€œthe Gettysburg of the Westâ€ – was fought near here. That day the greatest clash of Civil War troops west of the Mississippi River ended the Confederacy hopes in the West. Today, markers describe the battle. You can exercise your dog on a rolling path around Loose Park and in the large, grassy center of the greenspace.
Twenty minutes to the northwest you can hike with your dog for hours at Weston Bend State Park. When Lewis and Clark reached the Weston area on July 2, 1804, the rich soils on the banks of the Missouri River had already been under cultivation by Indian tribes for hundreds of years.
The piers in the Missouri River were so busy shipping hemp that by 1858 Weston was considered the largest hemp port in the world. It has been tobacco, however, that has driven the area economy from then to now. The park contains five tobacco barns and an interpretive display on the history of tobacco production in the community.
Fires and floods retarded the development of Weston following the Civil War and Lewis and Clark might recognize the same scenic views from park bluffs today as the same ones they saw 200 years ago.
The sporty canine hikes in the 1,133-acre park run up and down hills that formed on the edges of retreating glaciers. There is a cornucopia of interesting trails to choose from.
The dog-friendly parkâ€™s multi-purpose trail is a 3-mile asphalt loop through wooded corridors. Energetic hikers will want to jump onto the dirt paths of the Harpst Trail when it intersects the paved trail. This one-mile loop traipses along the Missouri River bluffs until reaching the remains of the famous Harpst Orchards that once produced peaches for English royalty.
The Missouri River Trail takes your dog directly to the edge of the Missouri River and the Bear Creek Trail explores the former channel of the Missouri before a major shift in the river in 1858. Both trails are less than one mile.
Two more short trails worth checking out are the Barn Trail and McCormick Trail, both mown areas near the park office. The McCormick Trail leads to a warehouse of a distillery in continuous operation since 1858.
Weston Bend State Park is on the west side of Highway 45 heading out of Kansas City.
Doug Gelbert is the author of over 20 books, including The Canine Hikerâ€™s Bible. To subscribe to his FREE Newsletter on hiking with your dog and receive a copy of Rules for Dogs in 100 of the Most Popular National Park Service Lands, visit http://www.hikewithyourdog.com In the warmer months he leads canine hikes for hikewithyourdog.com tours, guiding packs of dogs and humans on hiking adventures. Tours, ranging from one-day trips to multi-day explorations, visit parks, historical sites and beaches.
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