Friday, May 27, 2011

Hiking: Burr Oaks, Habitat Trail

Location: Burr Oaks, Habitat Trail, 1401 NW Park Rd, Blue Springs MO

Cost: Free

Appropriate for: All ages, no strollers though on this one.

Hike Length: 1.5 miles

Who's up for a good hike? If you are and you want to bring the kids with you, try this pretty easy trail. Check the website for a map of the trail and the others that they have there, it's located a little bit before you get to the nature center on the left.

This is an easier hike that my 3 year old and 5 year old did without to much trouble. Of course, we took frequent breaks at the numerous benches provided along the way. This was a nice addition as it gave us a chance to try and see some wildlife while we were out there. Along with the benches are educational placards placed to describe what it is your are seeing and what you are looking for. As our hike was a little bit later in the day, we didn't get a chance to see much but we have come across deer and rabbits in the past. These were all nice touches when hiking with toddlers.

The trail itself is decently well maintained and free of any overhanging or over grown grass. For the most part, it is covered in gravel or rock and flows well with it's surroundings. Several bridges span streams and these are also nice places to stop and watch some wildlife while teaching your kids about nature and stuff. Also while we were walking, I did not see any trash or garbage left behind by previous hikers. This is something that I always look for and can tell you alot about the people who walk the trail and those that maintain it.

For the most part, the trail is not difficult with few hills. However, the habitat trail does feature some "limestone bluffs" in the middle of the trail and these provide just a touch of excitement for the little ones. They are really no more than 6 foot high out croppings but provide a decent beginners challenge for kids that like to climb them. They are easily navigated and provided a good chance for the kids to break up the hike a little bit.

All in all, it's a good hike for the younger kids wanting to get the kids outside. Nicely covered by a canopy of trees, the hike provides just the right amount of activity and challenge for younger ones.

The Kite Festival

Location: Metropolitan Community College Longview, 500 SW Longview Rd, Lee's Summit Mo

Ages: Appropriate for all

Cost: Free!

Dates: Check website but it is normally an annual event held in April.

Yet another festival in the KC area that is a must see. We seem to have a lot of these but this one might be the best. Located on the front lawn and surrounding campus of the Longview Community, the kite festival features hundreds and hundreds of kites. This is pretty much what you would expect from a Kite Festival I suppose but it's still pretty awesome to look up into the sky and see 500 kites being flown like a scene from Mary Poppins.

The majority of kites being flown will be amateurs and families that have come out for the day. All crowd on the lawn and send up their little representations of their families. It can become crowded at times, both on the ground and in the air, but this in no way has ever taken away from the joyful experience that it is. Everyone seems to be very respectful and courteous to everyone else. Sure, there are times when you kite gets tangled with others, but this is always handled well and with laughs.

Not all the kites in the are are amateurs though (and there are some bitchin kites by amateurs). On the far end of the field is a special roped off section that features the more hard core kite enthusiast. If there is such a thing as a professional kite flyer, and I don't know if there is, this would be it. This section of the field is not for people to wander around in but to gather at the edges and look up and some the spectacular things that are flying.

There are kites and windsocks as large as football fields. There are cartoon characters, animals, flags, just about anything that you could imagine. And they are HUGE. And of course, because this has to be part of it, there are several dragon kites because those are cool and would eat your little kite for lunch.

But don't dispair if you don't have a kite, you can buy one here for a pretty reasonable price. Sure, they have some of the more expensive and creative kites, but they also have good quality kites for the everyday family that can't spend 50 bucks on a kite. We bought our triangle kite here for 15 bucks and it's been going strong for three years.

There are also things to do as you would expect at such a festival. Booths are plenty and there is even a little workshop where kids can make their own kites out of paper. To the credit of the craftsman, these things actually fly and the kids seem to love them. Just be warned though, this is the most crowded part of the festival and if you hit it at the wrong time you may be in for a bit of a wait.

The best part about the fesitval is just being able to sit on the grass, look up and enjoy all the kites in the air while your little one takes the helm of your family crest that took you a good 30 minutes to get airborne.

Check the website in April and make it a point to go to this thing. Your family will love it.