1401 Northwest Park Road, Blue Springs 816-228-3766
Hiking shouldn't have to involve special boots, water-purification tablets and gorp. Fortunately, Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center has several trails that allow outdoor enjoyment with a minimum of equipment. The Missouri Department of Conservation purchased this 1,100-acre property nearly 30 years ago; its nature center opened in 1982 and was fully renovated last year. The center's signature Bethany Falls Trail is a 1.33-mile loop that traverses a limestone outcropping that could easily have hidden Civil War raider William Quantrill and his men (who are said to have once haunted the area). But the center also offers a paved, three-quarter-mile trail that caters to children and less-mobile adults. It crosses a scenic glade and includes a bridge over a pond filled with frogs and turtles. The pond is for looking, not drinking.