The KC Metro has a ton of mountain bike trails – and there are tons of informative sites that cover that system of trails.There don’t seem to be, however, any that provide photos.
This series hopes to remedy that.
Shawnee Mission Park
Experience Level: Intermediate
Elevation Changes: Minimal
Here’s a map to Shawnee Mission Park so you can find your way. When you enter the park, take a left and follow the main road around until you see some tennis courts on your left. Park across the street from the tennis court. Look north, and you’ll see something akin to this:
Ride the path up to the woods and there you will find a trailhead proper:
The trails here are undergoing some much needed (and much appreciated) overhauling. As such, there is not yet an established flow for trail traffic. This post uses green arrows to show the loop I usually take while riding. The loop is roughly 3 miles long and takes about 20 minutes to ride. The trail vacillates between smooth (“butta”), hard-packed singletrack and rather technical rock-strewn climbs and downhills.
Many portions of the trail also feature plenty of exposed root systems to manuver.
My loop is to generally ride clockwise. (There are exceptions that I will note.)
This trail is fun, fast and furious if you’re a competent rider. If you’re a novice, the trail is probably too technical for your enjoyment (but keep at it!).
At close to the half-way mark, the trail turns to almost complete rock.
To the left, there is a steep, rocky downhill which leads to the main road looping Shawnee Mission Park. But we’re not ready to leave this gnarlyness quite yet. We’ve got this to look forward to:
After the rocky mess at the west end of the trail comes three loose-rock-covered switchbacks in a row, which I fondly dubbed “The Three Amigos”.
Shawnee Mission Park is loaded with deer. During my brief afternoon ride I came across six. I tried to get photos, but they wouldn’t heed my hunter’s call. It’s a fun kinda freaky to come barreling around a corner into a bunch of grazing deer. Just watch out for Wendigo.
After The Three Amigos, there’s a slight, steady incline toward the northwest corner of the trail system. In this corner, you’ll find the trail branches.
This is where I break with the clock-wise flow and instead head up to a slightly higher point. This section of trail wasn’t weed-eated when I visited so I’m uncertain if those maintaining the trail plan to abandon it in the future.
Nevertheless, the riding is much the same: some smooth, some root, some rock.
Then, the crossroads.
A left turn takes you back to last trail branch. I don’t remember where a right turn takes you (perhaps the second branch?). I prefer straight, over a small piles of logs.
The path straight leads to a quick, slight descent over many exposed root systems.
More fast fun…then comes one of two major ascents up nasty rock hills. Both ascents feature either a path directly up the hill or an indirect path up. Even the indirect paths are challenging. The first uphill, I take.
And get some support from the Aether.
A bit more cranking, through another branch.
Then the other major ascent (or descent if you’re coming from the opposite direction).
No support from above exists for this climb. And, like I said, even the alternate route is a bitch.
(I spent the spring and summer of 1998 learning to navigate both of these hills. I did it then – and I will do it again, OHHH Yes!) Until then, just walk the hill, then re-mount and follow the trail back around to the trailhead. You can really build up some speed on this last leg, so get cranking!
Shawnee Mission Park is a great ride and getting better all the time, thanks to the efforts of Earthriders. The trails are challenging enough for a decent rider and short enough to be enjoyed as a pre-work dirt breakfast.