Outdoor walks await spring thaw

Senior man and woman walking in the park.

By Michelle Alexander

As winter sheds its coat, Johnson County Park and Recreation District 50 Plus Program adds Nature and Outdoor Walks to the agenda.

Participants can hop on a JCPRD bus from Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch Road, Merriam, while we drive the group to our walking destination. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and explore new trails with fellow nature enthusiasts.

Our first stop is to “Rock Island Spur Pleasant Hill Trailhead” on Wednesday, March 16. A 47-mile trail that stretches through the middle of west-central Missouri and built on the former corridor of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad.

Walkers will pass through prairie-like landscapes and farm fields during our journey on a portion of this trail that rates as easy which is a smooth, even trail with slight elevation increases. We’ll stop on the way back home for a sweet treat (treat cost on your own). The cost for this four-hour Wednesday Walk is $24 for Johson County residents/$26 for nonresidents. Departs Antioch Park at 9 a.m.

Next, we are off to “Weston Bluff Trail.” Walk along the trail blazed in brown as we take in the spring flora and fauna. It’s a natural trail with slight inclines and recommended for those with good balance and some experience on nature trails. After the hike, we’ll have lunch in historic Weston with a short bit of time shopping downtown. The cost for this seven-hour Adventure Walk on Wednesday, March 23, is $30/$32. Departs Antioch Park at 9 a.m.

On Wednesday, April 21, we’ll journey to “Bothwell Lodge Site and Trail” for a guided hike up to the historic site atop a bluff to learn of the history of the lodge and surrounding area. We’ll stop for lunch after the hike with lunch costs on your own. This trail rated as moderate, has loose gravel, uneven pavement and slight inclines. The cost for this seven-hour Adventure Walk is $30/$32. Departs Antioch Park at 8 a.m.

If you are looking to stay closer to home but still want to walk with a group, join the Meadowbrook Walkers. They meet at Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse, 9101 Nall – Prairie Village, for coffee and conversation and then a 30-minute walk with others. The walkers gather at 9 a.m. on Thursdays. The cost for four, 50-minute sessions is $3/$4 and begins March 3. A second four-week session starts April 7.

Inclement weather date is the following week. Staff will determine if weather conditions are suitable for hiking. Space is limited, register in advance by calling 913-831-3355 or online by visiting the Nature Walks page at https://jcprd.com/50plus.

Michelle Alexander is the 50 plus program manager at the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.