5 Reasons You’ll Want to Take an Urban Hike in Kansas City

View of Downtown Kansas City from Strawberry Hill in KCK

Pairing unique city views and a day’s worth of steps, an urban hike is a great way to explore the heart of a city. Here are five reasons you must see Kansas City with Urban Hikes KC.

A special thanks to Visit Kansas City, Kansas, for inviting me to explore Kansas City’s Strawberry Hill neighborhood on an urban hike. I was also invited on the Crossroads Art District Hike by Urban Hikes KC, but you can count on me to always share my honest opinions, regardless of who foots the bill.

Whether you want to learn more about the place you call home or discover a new destination, urban hiking is an increasingly popular way to explore a city. Here in Kansas City, Urban Hikes KC offers approximately 15 different experiences, ranging from three to five miles long. 


Have You Taken an Urban Hike?

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What is an Urban Hike?

Instead of trekking in a national park or nature preserve, try exploring the heart of a city with an urban hike. Led by an experienced local guide, Urban Hikes KC will guide you along sidewalks, through alleys, and over bridges for a one-of-a-kind opportunity to see Kansas City in a new light.

Sage Advice: Most city hikes are along urban trails like sidewalks, crosswalks, and other paved surfaces, but some walkways can be uneven, so be sure to watch your step!

A woman wearing Nike tennis shoes and comfortable pants

What to Wear on an Urban Hike

Because you’ll be walking several miles, you’ll want to wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes. For most people, regular athletic shoes are perfect for an urban hike. But, if you want extra ankle support, consider tying on a pair of hiking boots.

Once you’ve got your toes covered, let’s hop up to your head. Be sure to slather on sunscreen and/or pack a hat to protect your skin from harmful UV rays year round. And don’t forget sunglasses to protect your eyes.

As for the rest of your body, you’ll want to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to wear comfortable clothing and dress in layers. Moisture-wicking shirts, cargo shorts or comfortable pants, and lightweight jackets are all good choices.

Be sure to take a raincoat, rain poncho, or umbrella if rain is on the radar. You may also want to wear rain boots or another type of waterproof shoe rather than regular tennis shoes. And for a winter urban hike, be sure to bundle up appropriately with a hat, scarf, and gloves.

Sage Advice: Carry a lightweight backpack to stow your water bottle, snacks, and extra clothing items for a hands-free urban hike.

What to Pack for an Urban Hike

Although you’re exploring the heart of a city (rather than the great outdoors) and can likely refill your water bottle or stop to purchase a beverage, you’ll still want to take plenty of water on your urban hike. 

Urban hiking may include stops at coffee shops, cafes, and other eateries. But it’s a good idea to pack a few snacks like a banana, trail mix, or granola bars in case your tour doesn’t include a stop and you need something to munch on while you walk.

You’ll also want to bring your phone and/or a camera to capture the sights you see along your hike.

With those items out of the way, here are five reasons you’ll want to take an urban hike in Kansas City.

Strawberry Hill Mural in KCK

1. Learn About the Local History

As you explore the heart of Kansas City on foot, guided by an experienced native, you’ll learn a lot about the history, art, food, and culture of this vibrant Midwestern city. Although I’ve lived in Kansas City for more than two decades (and feel like I’ve explored it quite a bit), I discovered some hidden gems and learned several new things on my urban hikes through Strawberry Hill and the Crossroads Arts District

With most public schools still focusing heavily on the white European male version of history, I love that Urban Hikes KC shares lesser-known stories of the Native Americans who first called this area home as well as the women and other ethnic groups that helped shape Kansas City. 

Person walking along a paved path

2. Get Some Exercise

While you can easily reach your daily step goal by running on a treadmill at the gym, cycling on an exercise bike in your basement, or walking your regular neighborhood route, an urban hike workout offers a change of scenery. Most of the Kansas City guided hikes and walking tours are about four to five miles long (about 9,000 to 11,000 steps), helping you reach (or get awfully close to) your daily step goal in one fun experience.

And if you expect Kansas City to be flat, you’re in for quite a surprise. Nearly every urban hike includes several hills (some of them a bit steep), or flights of stairs, but don’t let that worry you. All Urban Hikes in Kansas City include stops where you can catch your breath, sip some water, and learn more about my favorite cow town from an experienced local guide.

3. Make New Friends

Although Urban Hikes KC offers private hikes for families, groups, and team building, both of my urban hikes have been public hiking tours with a group of about 15 to 20 people. In both cases, the tour guide launched the tour by having the hikers introduce themselves and share where they were from. As you spend the next few hours together, there are plenty of opportunities to make new friends as you explore Kansas City.

Octopus graffiti in alley on an urban hike in the Crossroads District of Kansas City

4. Capture Instagrammable Pics

Through alleys filled with colorful graffiti, impressive historic buildings, and sweeping views of downtown, your urban hike will treat you to plenty of photo opportunities to fill your Instagram feed. 

Sage Advice: Consider packing a selfie stick or lightweight portable tripod for even more amazing photos from your urban hike.

5. Support a Small Business

Urban Hikes KC was founded by Lisa Peña, a Kansas City, Kansas, native. She is an avid hiker and former Peace Corps volunteer, with an insatiable sense of adventure who was inspired to start Urban Hikes KC after listening to a podcast. Now called Side Hustle Show, the podcast spotlighted Urban Hiker San Francisco, and Lisa quickly reached out to its founder for her blessing to create something similar here in America’s heartland. From her first paid urban hikes in March 2019, Urban Hikes KC now has six amazing guides leading 15 fun hikes across the Kansas City metro.

Plaza Lights from Balcony Parking Garage

Types of Urban Hikes in Kansas City

In addition to traditional urban hikes with routes that wind four to five miles through the heart of Kansas City, Urban Hikes KC also offers several specialty and seasonal hikes. Foodies will want to check out the urban hike with a wine and cheese stop, the caffeine-charged hike with visits to several local coffee shops, and the bubbly brunch hike that includes a mimosa and finger food. Folks looking for a mix of exercise experiences may enjoy the family-friendly yoga flow hike or the Lewis and Clark trail bike ride. And if you’re looking for a new way to take in the beauty of Kansas City at Christmastime, check out the Plaza Lights tour, available during the holiday season.

Related Article: 10 Beautiful Spots to View the Kansas City Plaza Lights

Book an Urban Hike in Kansas City

The first two walking tours designed by Urban Hikes KC (and the two I’ve experienced) are the Crossroads Art District Urban Hike and the Strawberry Hike and Downtown KCK Hike. You can check pricing and availability here as well as explore other routes.

Have You Taken an Urban Hike?

Where did you hike? What was the best part of your experience? Any additional tips and tricks to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Kansas City straddles the states of Missouri and Kansas


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3 thoughts on “5 Reasons You’ll Want to Take an Urban Hike in Kansas City”

  1. I love the idea of an urban hike in Kansas City. You get to see and experience so much more than if you were driving through.

  2. Jenn | By Land and Sea

    This is a fun idea! I’ve never really thought of venturing through a city in this manner as an urban hike. What a great way to explore.

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