register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Burr Oak Woods Nature Center, MO

no permit
15 1 0
Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List MO > Northeast
2 of 5 by 1
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 936 feet
Accumulated Gain 500 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.8
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2017-11-24 kingsnake
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 83
Routes 182
Photos 7,946
Trips 637 map ( 5,893 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep
Sun  6:00am - 6:23pm
3 Alternative
Nearby Area Water
[ View More! ]
Meteorology Nearby
Culture Nearby
Kansas City BBQ is thataway!
by kingsnake

Likely In-Season!
Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area is a 1,071 acre Missouri state park in Independence, just east of Kansas City, and just north of I-70.

Burr Oak Creek, which flows through along the west and south edge of Woods, gives the nature center its name.

There are prairies and wetlands, but Burr Oak Woods is mostly forested small, but steep, hills. It has large limestone boulders and outcroppings.

The education center includes a 168-seat auditorium and 3,000-gallon aquarium.

Picnic areas, restrooms and parking lots are dotted along Park Rd., the road through Burr Oak Woods.

But what about the hiking?

There are six short trails that one may combine into a couple of decent hours of easy hiking and nature photography:

1) Missouri Tree Trail: A 0.75 mile concrete loop adjacent to the nature center. Includes prairies, a pond, and many labelled flora.

2. Dunn Discovery Trail: A 0.5 mile paved loop, also adjaccent to the nature center. Fun education for the kids.

3. Wildlife Habitat Trail: A 1.5 mile gravel loop, that educates hikers on how forest management improves forest health and wildlife habitat. There is a limestone bluff and a pond. Can also be done as 0.9 mile loop.

4. Bethany Falls Trail: This 1.33 mile gravel lasso is one of the highest rated hikes in the Kansas City area. It includes woods (of course), savannah, prairie, an old homestead and the Bethany Falls limestone outcrop.

5. Hickory Grove Trail: A 1.15 mile (one way) gravel trail, which connects the Wildlife Habitat and Bethany Falls trails. It roughly follows Burr Oak Creek.

6. Prairie Connector Trail: A 0.5 (one way) trail which connects the Bethany Falls Trail, Missouri Tree Trail and Dunn Discovery Trail.

There are also some formal, but unnamed, trails just east of the education building.

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area map

Check out the Triplog.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2017-11-20 kingsnake
  • map
    guide related
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Review
Burr Oak Woods Nature Center
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
The sun, still low in the sky when I started on the Wildlife Habitat Trail, lit up the prairie and trees. I got a real nice sunburst photo out of it, that I used up top and as the title card in my hike video: [ youtube video ] . Just a few yards down the trail was a bike rack, as bikes are only allowed on paved roads in the park. No pets allowed either, so any poo you see is likely from wildlife. Another few yards on, the loop begins and traffic is one way only. I’m serious. Seeing a one way sign on a hiking trail is one of the oddest things I’ve seen on a trail. If you go the wrong way, do you get a ticket? :stop:

The Wildlife Habitat Trail passes a small pond, then descends 30 ft. to the Limestone Glade. From there to the small limestone bluff a level half mile on, there are many information signs explaining the Burr Oak Woods’s habitat restoration efforts. The trail was covered with fallen leaves. The only wildlife I saw was squirrels, lots of squirrels.

Despite being over a mile from I-70 I could still easily hear the freeway. I imagine it is quieter when the trees have leaves.

From the small limestone bluff, the Wildlife Habitat Trail climbs 90 ft. :o before dipping to the north end of the Short Loop, then climbing another 60 ft. [-( back to the trailhead.


After a quick stop at the trailhead pit toilet to get rid of my morning coffee, and top up my water, I headed west on Hickory Grove Trail. I have no idea what a hickory looks like. I feel like I am doing well to be able to identify oak (leaves!) and birch/aspen (white bark!). I wonder if hickory are the source of the many heavy, grapefruit-size, yellow-green fruits / nuts I saw along the trail. (And which I also spotted along the C&O Canal [ photoset ] a few weeks ago.) Those would really hurt if they landed on your head!

The Hickory Grove Trail descends 90 ft., past the W. Robert Aylward Educational Pond. I was hoping to see some ducks here, but no such luck. Thanksgiving must be too late in the migration season?

As it parallels Burr Oak Creek, Hickory Grove Trail crosses a cement & stone dam / culvert. My best guess is it is meant to retain water for the Educational Pond.


The Bethany Falls Trail actually starts from where Park Rd. enters the trailhead parking area. Since Hickory Grove Trail continued right on past the parking area, that’s what I did, figuring I was on the correct path. I did some minor rock hopping across Burr Oak Creek, which seemed odd compared to the previous few miles, but I continued on. At some smelly manhole covers, at the edge of a prairie, I reconsidered. The contours on the park map are accurate, and comparing them to the terrain around me, I realized the Bethany Falls Trail was on the east side of the prairie, not the southwest corner, where I was. Back to the trailhead I went.

Bethany Falls Trail is one of the highest rated in the Kansas City area, and that was reflected in the amount of cars in the lots and hikers along the trail, particularly young families. (All the Burr Oak Woods trails are kid-friendly.) The section through, and along, the limestone outcropping at the north end of the loop is real trail, as opposed to the suburban pathways throughout the rest of Burr Oak Woods.

No one way signs on this loop. :D I went left, continuing to parallel Burr Oak Creek, but up a wooded slope. I did not realize I bypassed the observation deck until I reached the homestead ruins. (A couple of walls now only a few stones high, just across a split rail fence.) I thought about doubling back, but decided it wasn’t worth the time.

Despite traffic noise from nearby Pink Hill Rd., the limestone outcroppings on Bethany Falls Trail were the highlight of my hike. At the east end of the outcropping, the trail climbs 40ft. to a prairie. Thinking I had left my glasses behind — a common occurence when I take them off to better view a potential photo — I momentarily panicked and began backtracking, until realizing the glasses were still on my face.

I was disappointed not to actually see any falls.

Back at Park Rd. I returned to the Wildlife Habitat Trail trailhead, and my patient wife, by booking it back along the Hickory Grove Trail.

Just a few colored leaves still clinging to the oak, maple, hickory, dogwood and hornbeam.

A solitary dandelion.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Kansas City, head east on I-70 to exit 20. Head north on Highway 7 for 1.3 miles. Turn left (west) onto Park Rd. Park at whichever trailhead is closest to where you will start your hike.
page created by kingsnake on Nov 20 2017 12:41 pm
2+ mi range whistle
blow it like you mean it
help comment issue

end of page marker