Looking for an escape from the city without having to leave the city? Some of our friends have been giving us suggestions on places to visit. When a few told us details about the Parkville Nature Sanctuary, it seemed like the perfect place to take a walk on the wild side. These days long distance travel requires an unprecedented amount of preparation. That seems to be good enough reason to find activities and destinations closer to home. Seeing that we have done a lot of exploring in Parkville, we had to wonder why we hadn’t visited this site sooner.
Parkville Nature Sanctuary
We picked a Saturday morning for our exploration. When we arrived at the Parkville Nature Sanctuary, we found parking to be in high demand. Even with a number of visitors, we still found a spot close to the trail head. The park is open every day from sunrise to sunset, so it is easy to find a period that fits most schedules. This is set up strictly as a walking trail for humans, so remember to leave your bikes and pets at home. Kids are certainly welcome though, and we saw a few families enjoying the area.
Getting Our Bearings
For our inaugural visit, we decided to keep our hike short. The Parkville Nature Sanctuary has five trails to choose from. They range in length from 1/10 of a mile up to 1.5 miles long. This means that there is a trail for just about everyone to enjoy. It also means that it is easier to spread out visitors, so there is limited congregating. Part of the reason for the restriction of pets is that they want to make sure the local wildlife is undisturbed. Before we headed off on our adventure, we took a moment to familiarize ourselves with the locals. Hopefully we would spot a couple of examples along the trail.
Walk on the Wild Side
The Parkville Nature Sanctuary is set on 115 acres of wooded land. It sits on the land between Park University and Riss Lake. The White Branch is a small stream that carries the overflow from the lake down to the Missouri River. It provides some scenic opportunities along the trails and keeps the wildlife in the area. Even though Kansas City had been in the midst of a dry spell, we were hopeful that there would still be water moving through the creek bed. We decided to take the Old Kate Trail, which leads up to the waterfalls coming down from Riss Lake.
As we made our way forward, we began to hear the flowing water ahead. It wasn’t a rushing sound that one would expect after a series of heavy rainfalls. Instead, it was a gentle trickling that draws those hearing it towards the origin of the sound. About a third of the way along the trail we came to the waterfalls. Sure enough, it was only a small stream that meandered down the rocky hillside, but it was still a pleasant discovery.
While the water flow may not have been optimal, it was still something to be taken in. Nearby we found a bench that offers a view of the hillside. From there we could sit back and take in the whole environment that engulfed us. It was hard to imagine that we were just steps from the faster pace life of the city. As we enjoyed our brief rest, it seemed that the sounds of nature washed over us like the water rolling down the nearby rocks.
Our stop was brief, as we were eager to explore more of the trail. After crossing another small bridge, we found that the path began its journey away from the hillside that holds the lake. A few steps down the trail, we came to another small water feature. Here the flow flattened out and passed over a rocky ridge. We watched as a family took turns posing in front of the flowing stream. It made us think that this would be a good place to use for a short photo shoot. It would be even better during a less dry period.
2020 is the year that we are learning more than we ever wanted to know about “social distancing”. What better way to do this than taking a hike? While we enjoy walking when we visit new destinations, we have never really considered ourselves hikers. At least not in the context of being one with nature. This year has certainly changed our perspective and we are truly enjoying it. The Parkville Nature Sanctuary allows for plenty of room to spread out. Even though the parking area had been a little congested, we found the trails wide open.
Changing up from urban adventures to nature explorations has some other benefits. Most of the delicate creatures we encounter are found in our home gardens. During these nature walks we are spotting a lot of colorful insects. While we didn’t run across a lot of wildlife, we did spot some songbirds and even a bunny. I would imagine that the hikers that arrive earlier in the morning are rewarded with the bulk of the wildlife sightings. We will have to keep that in mind for future visits.
Exercise Made Fun
Now that we know about the Parkville Nature Sanctuary we are sure to frequent it. Being so close to us, it helps remind us of the wonders of nature. Our plans are to start incorporating more hiking destinations to our blog. Hopefully some of them will resonate and you will plan your own excursions. Not only is it good exercise, but it allows for some time to reflect and recharge our internal batteries. Besides, we still want to catch sight of some of those elusive creatures. Have you ever hiked in the Parkville Nature Sanctuary?