bluffwoods ca hike
The Forest Nature Trail
Maple Falls & Lone Pine loops
A couple of weeks ago we took a spring hike in a new (to us) area called Bluffwoods CA (CA=Conservation Area). It is located an hour north of KC just south of St. Joseph near the Missouri River. Jesse drove a lovely route through Platte City and Weston, backroads that are scenic and so peaceful to drive through.
As a conservation area we knew it could be somewhat primitive, however, there was a detailed, online map which made me hopeful that the trails would be somewhat organized. We began on the Forest Nature Trail which was described as mostly paved and handicapped accessible. The trailhead was easy to find, and the trail was as described online. It was a pretty trail, but almost too sculpted; or maybe we just enjoy a dirt path as opposed to paved. The online map does show a non-paved Bluff Trail extending off the main trail but we never saw the cut-off so just stuck to the main trail. We were here about 45 minutes (for a little over 1 mile) and then drove a couple of miles to the next trail head.
The more primitive trails consisted of the Maple Falls and the Lone Pine loops. The Maple Falls loop was well-marked and the trail was obvious. The Lone Pine less so, and we were even off trail for about a mile. At this point in our hiking adventure is when I am thankful that Jesse is a skilled woodsman who can read topography maps. Although we had an online map, our GPS wasn't tracking us and coupled with a trail not marked well we had no alternative but to take the scenic route (ie, blaze your own trail) back to the trailhead.
Overall, I really enjoyed the second group of trails. There were pretty views of woods, prairie and the Missouri River floodplain. It was a pleasant, sunny day with the highs near 40 degrees for a 7 mile hike; a wonderful departure from so many overcast, snowy spring days which had been our norm. If the Lone Pine trail had been taken better care of then I might says, "Let's check these trails out again in the fall." But whenever we need to go off trail it leaves me with a feeling of "That was more work than it was worth to do again." I'd only encourage the second set of trails if you or someone in the hiking group knows how to go off trail and get you back to the trailhead, or only set out to hike the Maple Falls trail. The Maple Falls trail is a good 3 mile loop without the hilly portions you see in the above pictures, which would make for a more straightfoward, less aggressive hike.