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Trails are open daily,
year round.
8am to 8pm

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reservations required
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Contact Us

8701 E. Gregory Blvd.
Kansas City, MO
64133-6351
(map)


cavespringkc@aol.com

816-547-9679
 

 

Cave Spring Trails

Special thanks to the hikers who tested the trail instructions. Choose Loop 1, Loop 2 or Loop 3 for a "guided" hike.

New updated maps available at the Nature Center

Print your own Trail Map before your visit > PDF

Loop 1 - The Daily Loop

Highlights:

  • The butterfly garden
  • The cave, spring, and concrete enclosure
  • The Red Bud bridge
  • The Raccoon Ridge bridge
  • View of the old lake bed and cabin ruins
  • The Joe Ammatelli paved trail
  • The pond
  • The waterfall

Length: 20 - 35 minutes / 1.5 miles

 

The Path - Part 1

Exit the center, turn right, and head down the paved chickadee trail. Just behind the center, notice the butterfly garden. It was created as a scout project to attract butterflies for our enjoyment and study. Did you know that butterflies indicate a healthy ecosystem?

Where the paved trail begins to curve to the left, leave the paved trail, head right and down the hill into the woods, still on the Chickadee trail. (Don’t turn too far right to take the Big Blue Stem trail.) After a few minutes, you will come to the concrete enclosure. Just to the right of the concrete enclosure is the cave; inside the cave is the spring. The stream of water heads out of the cave toward the old lake bed.

In 1925, a dairy farm was located above the cave and the concrete enclosure was a spring house where milk was stored in cans. In 1931, the concrete enclosure, leftover from the Cave Spring dairy farm, was used to collect water to pump up to Richards Flying Field nearby.

After you leave the cave, follow the Chickadee trail. On your right you might notice the remains of stone columns. These may have been the beginning of another clubhouse.

As you continue on the trail, notice the rock ledges in the woods to your right. These are natural limestone formations.

Part 2:

Where the trails meet (Red Bud Road and Chickadee, on your map), turn left and go over the bridge. This bridge was built by Armco Steel workers. The old lake, now gone, probably was in the hollow on your left, on the south side of the Chickadee trail you just walked. Follow the trail until you see the stairs. Bypass the stairs.

Take Raccoon Ridge over the next bridge. This bridge was originally built by scouts and later rebuilt by the National Guard. Under this bridge was the dam which held in the old lake. In the late 20’s and 30’s, this was The Cave Spring Club, a private country club. There was a nine hole golf course, two lakes (this one, now gone, and the pond), boating, swimming, fishing, and cabins around the main lake.

Just over the bridge, continue forward. At the intersection of the trails (Black Bear Hollow and Raccoon Ridge, on your map), look left. Try to imagine a great view of the old lake, and a swim dock right near where you stand. There is also one of the cabin ruins just off in the woods to your left.

The old lake extended from the Raccoon Ridge bridge east, to the Red Bud Road (the paved trail by the pond), and from just north of the cabin ruins up to the Chickadee trail ridge. The swimming area is said to have been in the southwest corner of the lake.

Continue forward and up the hill until you meet the paved Red Bud Road trail. Turn right and take a rest on the bench, created in memory of Joe Ammatelli. The inscription on the bench reads,

“Seekers and wanderers in journeys near and far, may you find your resting place in the very space you are.”

Look up the hill behind you and imagine a large clubhouse for the old country club.

Part 3:

Leaving the bench behind, continue along the paved Red Bud Road trail. Along the left side, notice more cabin ruins. The largest remaining ruins were part of the home of the club owners’ son who was also the golf pro at the country club.

After the ruins, the trail curves left and begins to head north again. On your right, you will see the pond, created to gather silt and keep the old main lake clean for swimming. Today, the pond contains fish (join us for our Fishing Derbies!). The island on the south end of the pond provides a shoreline which waterfowl use for nesting.

Looking left, imagine a pretty lake view in days gone by.

On the left, across from the pond’s island, is the old cottonwood. We think that this is the oldest tree in the park. Cottonwoods are an ancient species of tree, even found in fossils from prehistoric times.

Continue forward on the paved path back to the center.

Thanks for visiting!

Loop 2 - The Long Loop

Highlights:

  • The pond
  • The Joe Ammatelli paved trail
  • View of the old lake bed and cabin ruins
  • Walk along the streambed (optional)
  • The far and near Red Bud bridges
  • The cave, spring, and concrete enclosure
  • The butterfly garden

Length: 60 minutes / 2-3 miles

The Path - Part 1

Part 1 is also the wheelchair path. Just follow the trail to the end of the paving, then turn around and return.

Exit the center, turn right, and head down the paved chickadee trail.

Where the trails split, continue forward on the paved chickadee trail. On your left, you will see the pond, created to gather silt and keep the old main lake clean for swimming. Today, the pond contains fish (join us for our Fishing Derbies!). The island in the pond was created as a refuge for wildlife and to encourage nesting.

Looking to your right, is the old lake bed. In the late 20’s and 30’s, this was The Cave Spring Club, a private country club. There was a nine hole golf course, two lakes (this old one, now gone, and the pond), boating, swimming, fishing, and cabins around the main lake.

On the right, about halfway past the pond, is the old cottonwood. We think that this is the oldest tree in the park. Cottonwoods are an ancient species of tree, even found in fossils from prehistoric times.

Continuing along the trail, following it as it curves to the right, you will begin to see the cabin ruins. These are along the right side of the path and would have been situated along the shore of the old lake. There are remains of several cabins left; the largest remaining ruins were part of the home of the club owners’ son who was also the golf pro for the club.

At the end of the paved trail is a bench for a short rest. The bench is part of a memorial for Joe Ammatelli. Look up the hill behind the bench and imagine a large clubhouse for the old country club. It was said to be large enough for a good game of basketball.

Ahead, toward the right by the lake, was the swimming area.

You now have two trail options. You can walk the streambed on the Black Bear Hollow trail or continue on the south leg of the Red Bud Road trail.

Part 2:

to follow the Black Bear Hollow trail:

To pick up this trail, leave the bench and go back a few steps on the paved path to pick up Raccoon Ridge trail. Follow it straight north into the woods for just a short way. On your left will be the entrance to the Black Bear Hollow trail. Go left on this trail and follow the streambed.

On your right, you will pass the Possum Path bridge. This bridge was created by local Scouts.

Near the end of this trail, it curves to the left and then rejoins the Red Bud Road. Turn right toward the bridge.

to follow the Red Bud Road trail:

Leaving the bench, turn left and continue on the Red Bud Road. After the bench, the paving stops. Follow the trail. It will curve a little to the right and come close to the Black Bear Hollow trail. It will then curve back out to the left, away from the stream. Then, nearing the bridge, the Black Bear trail will join up.

Back on the main trail:

Pass over the Red Bud Road bridge. This bridge was also built by local Scouts. Below is the stream that was the source of water for the old lake. The stream heads into Swope Park and joins the Little Blue River. To the left, you will see the edge of the park and the beginning of the residential areas.

Over the bridge, the trail heads again to the right. To the right, you can still see the stream. Pick up the Possum Path trail for a short distance. Veer left, away from the Possum Path bridge, to begin heading north again.

The trail will again be called Red Bud Road. Raccoon Ridge trail will join up from the right side.

Continue north and cross the low Red Bud Road bridge. This bridge was built for Cave Spring by Armco Steel workers. Under this bridge begins the trek through the Haunted Forest each fall.

Part 3:

Just over the bridge, turn sharply right and pick up Chickadee trail heading back down the hill. The old lake, now gone, was to your right.

Follow Chickadee trail as it turns to the left. Soon you will come to the concrete enclosure. Just to the left of the concrete enclosure is the cave; inside the cave is the spring. The stream of water heads out of the cave toward the old lake bed.

In 1925, a dairy farm was located above the cave and the concrete enclosure was a spring house where milk was stored in cans. In 1931, the concrete enclosure, leftover from the dairy farm, was used to collect water to pump up to Richards Flying Field nearby.

Continuing past the cave, follow the chickadee path. You can cut left just past the cave to pick up the Big Blue Stem trail. Then head right, back to the paved trail, left and back to the center. Or, you can continue on the main chickadee path, veer left, go up the hill, and pick up the paved trail. Turn left and head back to the center.

Just behind the center, notice the butterfly garden. It was created as a scout project to attract butterflies for our enjoyment and study. Did you know that butterflies indicate a healthy ecosystem? Butterflies are the first to leave if the ecosystem is unhealthy.

Thanks for visiting Cave Spring! We hope you enjoyed your hike.

Loop 3 - The Short Loop

Highlights:

  • The cave, spring, and the concrete enclosure
  • The Ann Harrison garden and resting spot (optional)

Length: 20 minutes / .25 - .5 mile

The Path

Exit the center, turn left. Take the foot path just to the left of the center, down between the concrete pad and the pavilion. The pavilion is a great place for picnics and can be rented for larger occasions.

Turn left and follow the Big Blue Stem trail south. It will curve a little to the left.

Turn right on the chickadee trail cut-through and head down to the concrete enclosure. Just to the right of the concrete enclosure is the cave; inside the cave is the spring. The stream of water heads out of the cave toward the old lake bed.

In 1925, a dairy farm was located above the cave and the concrete enclosure was a spring house where milk was stored in cans. In 1931, the concrete enclosure, leftover from the dairy farm, was used to collect water to pump up to Richards Flying Field nearby.

After you leave the cave, follow the chickadee trail heading west. It will turn right and head north. To your left used to be the main lake. The old lake extended from the Raccoon Ridge bridge to the Red Bud Road, and from just north of the cabin ruins to the Chickadee trail ridge on which you are standing. The swimming area is said to have been in the southwest corner of the lake.

The Red Bud Road will join up with the Chickadee trail on the left. Stay on the Chickadee trail and head right.

You will see the Big Blue Stem trail head off to the right. To end the hike early, take this trail directly back to the pavilion and nature center. To add a little more time to your hike, stay on the Chickadee trail and head back into the woods, going north.

Follow the path as it turns to the right and comes out at the Ann Harrison garden and resting spot. Enjoy the flowers and then follow the road back to the nature center.

We hope you enjoyed your nature walk! Thanks for visiting Cave Spring.

At the Center

At the center, school children and adults visiting Cave Spring are introduced to the ecology of the Kansas City area through natural history and cultural history studies. We offer a series of outdoor education programs that interweave environmental lessons with the cultural history of Native Americans and Pioneers, while exploring the world of nature. We offer these educational opportunities along with guided hikes for school field trips, scouting programs, and adult and youth groups.

Stop by the center to see our monthly wildlife displays. Past exhibits have included butterflies and moths, fiber art from animal to clothing, Trees/Earth Day art work, and American Indian and pioneer artifacts.

Obtain information about the park, the center, and our upcoming special events. Check out the gift shop and become a volunteer or supporting member of the Cave Spring Association and receive the Trailblazer newsletter.