Points of Interest:
- See rugged Missouri River hills just north of downtown Kansas City.
- View forests that Lewis and Clark would have seen on their 1804 voyage up the Missouri River.
- Look for spring wildflowers or migrating songbirds within the city limits.
Natural Features Description: These rugged hills are formed in loess, a deep fertile soil of fine wind-blown silt particles. This rich soil supports a forest of red and white oak, sugar maple, basswood and shagbark hickory. The understory is home to pawpaw. A number of fern species – eight in all – grace the hollows. Spring brings displays of wildflowers such as bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches and bellwort. Interestingly, the seeds of Dutchmans’ breeches are dispersed by ant species. These seeds have a structure, an elaiosome, that is rich in lipids that attracts the ants to take the seeds to their underground nest. After eating off the elaiosome, the ants discard the uneaten seed in their trash pile. Some of these seeds germinate and in this way Dutchman’s breeches is dispersed across the forest floor. Many fascinating plant-animal interactions go on in our forests and woodlands. In the autumn leaf color displays can be good.
This natural area is within Hidden Valley Park owned and managed by the Kansas City Parks & Recreation Department. Take Interstate 435 to the Parvin Road exit and proceed west 0.5 mile. Turn left (south) onto Bennigton Road. Stay on this for a third of a mile and turn right (west) on to Russell Road. Look for the parking lot on the top of the hill on the right.