Biking in Kansas City doesn't so much require a hard-headed sense of road entitlement as a spirit of adventure. With enough gumption and time, it's possible to stitch together the disjointed threads of a few different bike paths.
Today's example: The Riverfront Heritage Trail.
It's 10 or so miles (one-way) of well-signed, on-street/off-street path that begins in the Summit Neighborhood, weaves up to the Mighty Mo' and into Kansas to conclude at Kaw Point. (See our Google map after the jump.)
This city gets a pretty bad rap as unfriendly to bike riders. Sure, no drivers want to see cyclists riding three abreast on Southwest Trafficway, and frankly, most bikers won't want to be seen there either. It's scary as shit to get passed within inches at 50 mph, ya know.
The Riverfront Heritage Trail mostly sticks to back roads, which avoids the above situation -- except for the little job on Grand Avenue about half-way through. The path traces the perimeters of a few parks before taking to the streets in downtown, through River Market and out to a metal observation platform thing. Walk down the metal steps to the riverfront trail, which dead-ends in a couple hundred yards.
This is the future home of a zigzag underpass that dips down to the river and under the ASB railroad bridge. Vincent
Gauthier, executive director of the Port Authority, said the $3 million construction is on-target for a January 1, 2010, completion.
Until then, you have to feel your way through. There's a dirt road
that runs behind but parallel to the river. Not sure if that's private
land, but there are plenty of bike tire tracks there, so whatever.
After turning toward the river just after a burnt-out building, the
path rejoins the Riverfront Heritage Trail proper.
Heading the other direction, Kaw Point isn't too far, but the path can
be tricky to follow -- mostly because there's a missing connection. There's also this bit of street art.
When descending into the West Bottoms, look head for the Mo-24
underpass. The trail is under the Intercity Viaduct Bridge. Jersey
barriers are there to discourage illegal dumping, but it's pretty easy
to steer around them.
At the Kansas River canal, there's a nice reminder of how well people mesh with nature.
When the path goes over the river, it becomes a bridge with cool
wrought-iron art elements that few people besides bikers probably ever
see. And then behold the full majesty of KCMO's skyline from Kaw Point.
Here, we made this map. Click on the markers for a photo of what you'll see at various points.
View Riverfront Heritage Trail in a larger map