At the far of Kansas City, Missouri, is a hidden gem called Cave Spring Park. Formally known as William M. Klein Park, Cave Spring is a 39-acre historic site and nature park in Raytown, Missouri.
Everyone that I knew that was local to Kansas City had not heard of it. Admittedly, they were also not the traipse through the woods type of people. I admit that I am not either, but I am trying to rediscover nature and not break a leg while doing so.
See, I grew up in a small town in West Texas. A town that is technically at the edges of the Chihuahuan Desert. Hiking through sage grass and mesquite trees is a lot different than walking through the woods and moats. It’s also been a long time since I’ve attempted to hike or even a nature walk. I don’t think Google Street view counts. So, last Thursday was an adventure!
Cave Spring Park was a heavily-traveled junction on the Santa Fe Trail back in 1872. The Oregon and California Trails also followed this path and signs in the area point to specific locations. Signs also point to the scout encampments used by local scout troops. The park has five miles of hiking trails that are free and open to the public.
It was a spontaneous trip. I arrived on a Thursday, not realizing that the visitor’s center was closed, and that foot traffic would be non-existent. There were no cars in the parking lot and no sign of any other human activity in the park. I stood beside the large turtle in the sunfilled meadow trying to figure out what to do first.
I could have found the map sign and followed directions but where is the fun in that? The park has plenty of signs pointing to the cave, to the water area, to the encampment, etc. There was even one that led to something that reminded me of the start of Friday the 13th movies, so I ignored it.
The walk started by following a long road into some dense foliage. I soon saw small signs pointing to different pathways and began exploring. The birds and sounds of nature were all around me; it was a comforting sound. The only real negative is that Blue Ridge Boulevard is on one edge of the park and it does get loud. However, that isn’t the fault of the park, as it was there long before cars.
Here are some tips that I learned to help me with my next hiking adventure. An adventure that took place two hours later at a nearby nature center. Many of these will be laughable to experienced hikers but humor me. I’m from the desert.
- The fastest way to the cave is to enter the park by the visitor’s center and follow the road straight down the mini-hill. Just keep walking, and you will start seeing small, white signs.
- I could hear the springs from the bridge crossing the lake, but not see them. They appear to be to the right of the moat on the road in the dense foliage. I think if you went down deeper into the encampment area you could find it. It was near the end of my trek when I heard it, and my legs were protesting going through any more foliage.
- Bring bug spray and/or long pants. It’s a beautiful area, but there is also a moat, springs, dense trees, and foliage. You will get bitten. It was in the 90s, so I was wearing shorts. My legs looked like a pin cushion.
- There is also poison ivy in places. From what I’ve read online there are a lot of places in the woods that have it so be careful to walk around or try to move it with a stick. It wasn’t a problem for me as I was able to avoid it easily.
- Camping is by reservation only, so if you wish to camp, contact the park. There is currently only one campsite, and Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Brownies, & Girl Scouts take priority. In my opinion, the park is more of a daytime hiking trail rather than a campsite. There are state parks in the area with larger campsites and more acreage so I would recommend those alternatives.
Cave Spring Park is open from dawn to dusk unless there is an activity happening. It has a small museum and business office that is open on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the opening to the park. Self-guided tours are free, although donations are always welcomed.
Where to find it? (Map)