On the eastern outskirts of the metro Kansas City area, Kearney has access to urban adventure without the traffic or stress of big city living. With two veterinarians and two pet supply stores in town, your pups won’t have to travel far for the important things. When your pack wants a true doggy day out, though, the heart of Kansas City is just a half-hour drive to retail therapy and over 100 dog-friendly restaurant patios!
You won’t have to travel that far just to get in a good walk. Kearney has plenty of parks for your pups to explore on-leash. The mile-long trail at Mack Porter Park leads past the athletic fields before looping through the woods. The 1.5-mile Jesse James Trail circles Kearney Amphitheater and a small lake, then winds between forest and meadows. Fun fact: The trail got its name because Kearney is the birthplace of famous outlaw Jesse James. The James family home outside of town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places: you should sniff it out.
For a more challenging hike in Kearney, the Fishing River Trail makes a circle around the southern half of Excelsior Springs, forming a 4-mile loop with an optional 1-mile nature trail extension through the forest. Starting and ending on 19th Street, the trail heads south to the Fishing River and follows its banks for two miles before returning north.
Located 6.5 miles from Kearney on the way to Lawson is Watkins Woolen Mill State Park and Historic Site. Pets aren’t allowed on the beach or the historic site but are welcome in the rest of the park on a maximum 10-foot leash. The natural surface equestrian trail system stretches for 3.5 miles through meadows and deep woods, and past a school and church built in the 1870s (a trailside glimpse of the historical site). You can bring your canoe or fishing boat to use the park’s public boat ramp, then take your dog for a paddle in the 100-acre Williams Creek Lake. The paved bicycle trail loops the lake, crossing seven bridges and passing near the Williams Creek Falls. Another beautiful waterfall (and an easier walk to view it) is available in Tryst Falls Park, less than a mile south of Watkins Mill.
In the northwest corner of Excelsior Springs, Rainbow Trail offers just under 2 miles of paved, stroller- and wheelchair-accessible walking just 9 miles from Kearney. The path follows Highway 69 for an open, suburban view. This easy trail means the whole family — leashed doggos included — can enjoy a leisurely stroll. A convenient access point is available at Get Fit Park, where the human fitness equipment can inspire you to amp up your own workout, even if your walking buddies aren’t up for anything strenuous. The trail ends just north of Century Park, where another multipurpose trail does a partial loop of the catch-and-release fishing lake through some pretty natural areas.
Siloam Mountain Park on the south side of Downtown Excelsior Springs is perched on a hill with a scenic view over the Fishing River Valley, 10 miles from Kearney. On 25 acres, the park gives your pup some space to stretch, and it’s only 10 miles from Kearney. Forming a loop through Siloam Mountain Park and downtown, a 2-mile trail system — linked stretches of the Siloam Mountain Trail, Fishing River Linear Park Trail, and Isley Park Woods Trail — takes you on a tour of five different parks. Just a few blocks away, you can grab lunch with your fur-baby at one of the dog-friendly outdoor tables at either Wabash BBQ & Blues Garden or Ventana Gourmet Grill, depending on whether your pup likes his under-the-table nibbles to be down home or high end.
About 13 miles from Kearney, the town of Liberty is home to Liberty Dog Park, a 3-acre, fenced, off-leash park with separate play areas for small and large dogs, along with water, waste stations, and agility obstacles to add some challenge. Located in eastern Liberty on the edge of Stocksdale Park, this furrific spot is also a launching point to explore the extensive trail network through Stocksdale and the adjacent Walnut Woods Conservation Area. This trail forms a loop through pristine woods with the perk of clean bathrooms at Stocksdale and nearby shopping and restaurants in downtown Liberty. Rock and Roll Brew Pub on Kansas Street, just a few blocks from the park, has a large and comfy patio that welcomes furbabies.
Clay County’s Smithville Lake is just 13 miles from Kearney and offers boating, fishing, dog-paddling, and all kinds of other soggy fun for your fur family to enjoy. At over 7,000 acres and 175 miles of shoreline, you’ll find wildlife and scenery worth barking about. An extensive trail network winds around the lake, and Clay County has recently launched a GPS-coordinate-based trail marker system designed to make emergency response fast and efficient if you or your buddy run into trouble out there. With 60 miles of trail, you’ll be back every weekend! On the eastern short nearest Kearney, the Bonebender Trail is less scary than the name implies, and with almost 9 miles provided on two connecting trails, the challenging journey includes a scenic lookout point over the water and plenty of lake views.