As a general rule we hike close to the KC area, or head north or east to rural state parks.
This past Friday we did something different and headed two hours south to Truman Lake. A few weeks ago we had the idea to hike near this lake and after some research came upon the Truman Lake Mountain Bike Park & Hiking Area. These trails are relatively new, building having begun in 2002. The history of the trails is interesting and can be found at this link.
As seen above in the second picture there are three trails in varying distances marked in yellow, blue and green. I appreciated the construction of these trails because even though there are three distinct trails at different points they overlap so although we chose the blue trail, we were able to extend our hike to 4.5 total miles by veering onto the yellow trail occasionally. This map gives you an idea of the layout.
These are true mountain bike trails being single track, which we enjoy as hikers because it really feels like you are enclosed in the woods. The trails are on a peninsula at Truman Lake so we had multiple and varied views of the lake during our hike. At one point we blazed our own trail to go directly to the lake for skipping stones. The blue and yellow trails have many switchbacks, inclines and are quite rocky. It was a rugged hike as evidenced by our time: it took us 3.5 hours to hike 4.5 miles. It took us less time to hike more miles a few weeks ago.
Although I'm still getting my energy back from being sick last week and didn't feel totally myself, the hike was very enjoyable. The weather was in the upper 40's, the sun was shining, and we had a scenic route to hike. Regarding wildlife we mostly saw birds ~ red tailed hawks, snipe, herons and even a bald eagle. This was an impressive place to have our final hike of 2016, and told the kids we'll come back to hike the 12 mile yellow trail!