A newly-opened section of single-track hiking and mountain bike trail at the Cedar Niles Park
site in Olathe offers a remote experience in the heart of Johnson County.
In early June, a new 4.4-mile stretch of the unpaved medium-difficulty trail quietly opened at the park site. The trail is being called the Columbine Loop after the native wildflower which can be found abundantly on the northern portion of the trail. Sorry, but peak blooming of the columbine plant took place in May.
Planning for the new trail has been under discussion for nearly ten years, and actual construction by volunteers with Urban Trail Co., in partnership with JCPRD trail builders took more than a year.
“It’s currently a single loop trail with a connector from the parking lot,” said Field Biologist Matt Garett. “The southern section of the trail going clockwise has more flow, while the northern half of the system has more technical rock. The topography provides really unique views of the Cedar Creek valley and settlement-era stone walls combined with high-quality forest.”
The trail also features limestone outcroppings, some big rocks to ride through, large dense cedar, varied terrain with interesting land formations, and lots of native plants along the trail.
The initial access point for the single-track trail is a parking lot located at 127th Street and Clare. Additional overflow parking is available at 119th Street and Clare.
Urban Trail Co. volunteers and JCPRD staff anticipate incremental trail expansion of single-track trails over the next decade at Cedar Niles could ultimately result in a 15 to 20 mile unpaved trail system at the park.
The reactions to the new trail from those who have ridden and hiked it have been very positive.
“The reaction has been fantastic,” Garrett said. “The trails created by UTC volunteers and JCPRD staff create a unique experience unlike any other trail in Johnson County.”
But don’t attempt the trail without being properly prepared.
“It’s an arduous loop that’s over four miles, so please review the map, bring water, and bike or hike within your ability levels,” Garrett said.
A portion of the first phase of development of Cedar Niles Park had a “soft opening” without fanfare in March, and officials anticipate the remainder of the new park will open later this year. Open at this time are about two miles of paved trail, which are also accessible from the 127th Street and Clare parking lot. When this phase is completed, the paved trail will total about four miles and will include a 200-foot single-span bridge over Cedar Creek, which will become the longest bridge in JCPRD’s park inventory.
Located west of downtown Olathe, the Cedar Niles Park property consists of 1,030 acres and stretches nearly two miles north and south between 119th and 135th streets in Olathe.