There’s a little-known trail just north of Springfield, within the city limits, that will give you miles of moderately rugged hiking and exposure to streams, woods, and open fields. The Springfield-Greene County Park Board owns the 300 acres that contain well over 8 miles of natural surface single track. The trail is rocky in places, muddy in places, and winds back and forth an amazing amount. There are no steep climbs but the trail goes up and down enough, and has many small seasonal stream crossings and plenty rugged rocks to give you a decent hiking workout.
Most of the trail area is wooded and former pasture turned to woods, so it’s an excellent place to see the seasons change in nature. We’ve seen turtles, snakes, all manner of insects, deer, turkey, and many dozens of wildflowers. The trail winds through glades, under trees, along the river, and across a mown field. It’s a trail that is fantastic in all seasons.
The trails all start from the parking lot and interconnect several times throughout the course. We recommend taking a trail map with you as there are so many switchbacks and trail turns that even an experienced hiker can get turned around. The area is bounded by the Little Sac River on the west, fenced private property on the north, and Highway 13 on the east, so it’s not like you’re going to get terminally lost or anything. But a map takes away the uncertainty.
The trail is popular with mountain bikers and we nearly always encounter bikers each time we go. They’re always friendly, but keep your eyes and ears open so you can hop out of their way. They approach fast and and please remember they do have the right of way. Horse traffic is not allowed on the trails and neither is camping. The area closes at sunset. As hunting is also not allowed, it’s a fantastic place to satisfy your nature cravings during deer season.
To get there, just take Highway 13 (Kansas Expressway) north out of Springfield. About three miles past I-44 (and the diverging diamond interchange), you’ll see a cell phone tower at the top of the hill. Just before the tower, turn left onto a paved drive that leads to both the parking lot and the northwest water treatment plant.