The Swope Park Trail is arguably one of the best trails for experienced riders within the Kansas City limits. It was originally meant to be more than 50 miles of networked bike trails built by volunteers but has fallen short of that goal. Currently, it’s just over 10 miles of networked trails with various named trail features that add to the difficulty and excitement of the trail. It’s open almost all year round, and we noticed the woods in the park changing color depending on the season. There’s even a kids’ loop nearby to keep your kids occupied while you tackle the trail.
Given it’s a looped network of trails, it starts and ends at the primary trailhead off Oakwood Road. To get there, you’ll need to get onto Oldham Road and follow it east until you see a lodge sign on your left, where you can turn onto Oakwood Road. The trailhead should be close by on your left, so keep your eyes peeled for the gate and parking area.
Most of the track is a singletrack surface once you get past the tarmacked entry with plenty of rocks and roots on your way. The lower trail, i.e., Wudchuck Run, runs parallel to the limestone bluff along the blue river, with the Missouri Department of Conservation helping to ensure the glades and other Swope Park features were maintained during the trails’ construction.
You should encounter abandoned nature camps that served Kansas from the 1960s to the 1980s but have long since been abandoned. Also, there may be shade depending on the season.
The trail changes from flow to rocky and back with several named features. Examples include Poop Shoot, Marci’s Playground, Donkey Kick, Jawbreaker, Knotty Drop, Princess Cruise Line, Hazard County, etc., with the names often telling you the difficulty levels to expect. There are enough gap jumps, bermed turns, and drops to make this a technically difficult singletrack trail, so you should only go there if you have absolute faith in your skills.
Although night riding is allowed, it might not be such a good idea, given how tricky it is to navigate certain sections of the trail. The trail is open for hiking, mountain biking, and snowshoeing, so watch out for other users. Also, we learned that users can unleash their dogs in some areas of the trail, so you may get the occasional pet running across your path.