Discover unique ecological communities and hikes with notable distance at Powell Gardens

Experience Hiking in Kansas City at Powell Gardens

Powell Gardens
September 14, 2023

At Powell Gardens, we believe in the importance of plants and the #MidwestSpiritOfPlace. One of the best ways to connect with our outdoor spaces is to take a hike. Hiking doesn‘t have to be complicated to have great benefits! Any hike, or walk in nature, can benefit us mentally, physically, and socially. Hiking can boost mood, improve overall fitness, and create time to spend with others.  

Hiking in Kansas City

The Kansas City area has many hiking trails. At Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, the Byron Shutz Trail System offers two footpaths (details below) to visitors hiking in Kansas City. Within the Byron Shutz Trail System, hikers will wind past lotus-filled ponds through woods of Osage orange and honey locust and into a field of meadow flowers. Returning hikers will be rewarded with a different experience in each season.  

Please note: The trails offer slight inclines and some rocky terrain but are easily traversed by hikers with moderate experience. Novice hikers should review their fitness level and the trail length before beginning a hike. 

Hiking the Byron Shutz Trail System (Two Kansas City Hiking Trails)

The Byron Shutz Trail System allows visitors to experience nature off-grid. Protecting this diverse area and the habitat of many species that depend on the natural area is a conservation priority at Powell Gardens.  

Currently, efforts are focused on restoring ecological communities and improving the hiker experience by upgrading interpretation and wayfinding. Conservation initiatives now and in the future will center on sustainable stewardship of the landscape for generations of Powell Gardens’ visitors. 


Ecological Restoration Along Powell Gardens’ Hiking Trails

The landscape of the Byron Shutz Trail System supports representations of some of the natural communities in Missouri. Natural communities represented at Powell Gardens, such as prairies, woodlands, forest, and wetlands, reflect the landscape of our region and support the Midwest spirit of place.  


Today, in many cases, ecological restoration must occur to protect the plants and animals within natural communities. Ecological restoration and returning processes, such as fire and grazing along with balancing invasive species to uphold diversity, support the living landscape.  

Along the Byron Shutz Trail System, ecological restoration is focused on preserving remnant tallgrass prairie communities. Active restoration actions include managing woody encroachment and introducing fire back to the landscape. Restoration of these old-growth grasslands is occurring with the assistance of volunteers and partners.  

Learn more about volunteering to support restoration projects.

I’m interested in the Conservation Crew.

Kansas City Hiking at Powell Gardens (Trail Details)

Discover hiking in Kansas City by taking a 1-mile or 3.25-mile trail through Powell Gardens’ Byron Shutz Trail System. With two unique trails, Powell Gardens’ natural, Midwestern landscape is the perfect Kansas City hike for beginners and long-time hikers alike.  

Trail Map

The expanded trail was made possible thanks to a generous donation from Marilyn T. and Byron C. Shutz and the Shutz Foundation. 

The Family Discovery Loop
  • Distance: 1.0 mile  
  • Rating: Easy  
  • Trail Type: Trail class 2 – simple/minor development trail. A loop trail, suitable for novice hikers.  
  • Build nature boats, search the pond for seasonal residents, play nature games, and construct gnome and fairy homes among fallen trees and waterways on the new Family Discovery Loop. This one-mile hike meanders through wooded and aquatic ecosystems. 
Prairie Ridge Trail
  • Distance: 3.25 miles  
  • Rating: Moderate  
  • Trail Type: Trail class 2 – simple/minor development trail. Point to point trail, starts and ends in different locations, suitable for hikers with a moderate level of experience and endurance.  
  • Experience flatlands, steep hillside, rocky glades, remnant prairies, and old growth timber on the trail. Hikers will pass through woods of Osage orange and honey locust into a field of meadow flowers.

Things to Know Before Hiking at Powell Gardens

Hikers of any level should be diligent to keep themselves safe. Powell Gardens has compiled a list of tips for hikers embarking on either of the Byron Shutz Trail System hikes.  

  • Know your capabilities and allow enough time to complete the trail before the Gardens close.
  •   Minimize your exposure to insects. Tuck your pant legs into your socks and spray insect repellent around your ankles.  
  • Learn to recognize poison ivy and avoid contact.  
  • Take water with you.  
  • Stay on the trail!  
  • Be aware we are in the range for copperheads and timber rattlers, although none have been identified on the Powell Gardens property. You may encounter a variety of nonvenomous snakes.  
  • The trail is closed during deer season (November through January) for your safety. 

Powell Gardens Hiking Resources 

Along the trails at Powell Gardens, hikers will walk on the wild side of Kansas City! Native birds, butterflies, and flowers populate the trails. To learn more about our natural communities, make use of these resources. The brochures below can help you identify and learn about Missouri’s native birds, butterflies, and wildflowers. What will you discover on your hike?  

Bird Brochure 

Butterfly Brochure

Wildflower Brochure 


Hike During Trail Days at Powell Gardens

On Saturday, September 30, 2023, Powell Gardens will host its second Trail Days event (9 a.m. – 2 p.m.) of the year. Trail Days invites hikers to experience the Byron Shutz Trail System. This system, comprised of the one-mile Family Discovery Loop and 3.25-mile Prairie Ridge Trail, support regionally distinct and rare ecological communities, unique off-grid experience, and noteworthy distance. Don’t miss guided hikes (10 a.m. and 1 p.m.) of the Family Discovery Loop and a forest yoga class (11 a.m.)! 

Learn More

Trail Days at Powell Gardens (September 30, 2023) waives the admission fee for the first 200 hikers interested in hiking the Byron Shutz Nature Trail System. With free admission, Trail Days provides a chance to explore the best kept secret of Kansas City’s botanical garden.   

Free Admission

Purchase Admission

Admission is free for 200 hikers who register in advance; limited to two admissions per person. Members receive free admission and do not need to register to attend.  If free tickets are no longer available, click below to purchase general admission for September 30, 2023. Thank you for supporting our trail work at Powell Gardens!