People who discount the Missouri River as a dirty trough miss the boat. The folks in Parkville do canoers a favor with a boat launch and small harbor at English Landing Park, just off U.S. Highway 9 near downtown. It's easy to park and put in the canoe for the 14-mile (two- or three-hour) trip, but two cars are a must -- park the other one at Berkley Riverfront Park in Kansas City. Canoeing down the Missouri is different from paddling on a sleepy lake or down a swift, narrow stream: The river is wide, deep, and fast, so the water does most of the work. Steer clear of dikes and jetties, channel buoys, and snags; move apace in the channel (right of the orange buoys, left of the green), or paddle into backwaters along sandbars and behind jetties to watch the wildlife. Cottonwoods and sycamores line the 12 miles to Kansas City. Beaver, river otter, coyote, fox, bobcat, and deer inhabit these woods, while great blue herons, various cormorants, ducks, and egrets gather along the shore. Baltimore orioles, eastern bluebirds, downy, and red-headed woodpeckers flood white-sand banks and sandbars with song, while swallows flit over the water. Anglers can also get what they're after: flathead, channel and blue catfish, drum, carp, and sturgeon. The trips ends on riverfront revetment at Berkley Riverfront Park. There, it's a steep but short carry to a small turnout on the park's east side (closest to the Paseo Bridge), and a quick walk to the parking lot to retrieve the car.