Kansas City isn’t known for having epic waterfalls like Asheville or Southern Idaho, but we have quite a few that are stunning and relatively unknown. Most of the waterfalls in the area are only a few feet tall, flowing across stone creeks. Some of them are bigger, and more impressive. Here are six can’t-miss waterfalls near Kansas City.
Cedar Lake Falls, Olathe, Kansas
This is my personal favorite waterfall.This used to be known as a teen party spot, but as more people go there it’s becoming less of a secret spot and more of a spot for photographers and nature seekers around Kansas City. It’s been growing in popularity, but still relatively unknown. The path to find it is unmarked and overgrown, but it is worth the moderate ducking through overgrowth to get there.
Follow these instructions to find the falls:
- Go to Cedar Lake in Olathe. Take the northern road (right) to the end and park.
- Follow the trail on the straight end of the lake.
- Before you reach the spillway, follow the trail down the hill to the left.
- You will get to a T in the trail. Right will lead you to the bottom of the falls (I recommend this way first) and left will take you to the top. On the path to the right, there are some areas where it might be easy to lose the trail, but you can hear the falls and follow the sound.
- The whole hike is probably .3 miles out and back.
Cedar Creek Falls, Olathe, Kansas
As the bird flies, Cedar Creek Falls is relatively close to Cedar Lake Falls, but the drive takes about 8 minutes. While you can view this waterfall from the trail, the best view is actually from the water. You can kayak to this waterfall!
To hike: The closest parking spot is northwest of the waterfall. When going east on 143rd Street, pass S Wardcliff Dr. and a bridge and then turn into the picnic area on your right. There is a paved trail going back toward the bridge. Walk under the bridge and you will see Cedar Creek Falls.
To paddle: If you have your own kayak, there are many places along Lake Olathe for you to put it into the water. If you need to rent a watercraft, rentals are available at Lake Olathe Beach in season, but there are also self-check out rentals anytime from Olathe Lake Fishing Pavillion. From there paddle east, past rocks, through wetlands, and under the bridge. Then you can paddle right up to the waterfall.
Double Falls, off of Line Creek, Kansas City North, Missouri
This is a popular wading spot in Kansas City because the rocky composition makes it easy to walk around and the water is usually pretty shallow. I have heard mixed things about the water quality of these falls. My family has played in them many times, but we always shower afterwards. Make the best choice for you and your family. If you do want to wade in them, I recommend bringing buckets and nets to catch and release crawfish and waterbugs.
It’s a short, paved walk to this waterfall. To find Double Falls, park at Line Creek Community Center Trailhead. When you get to the T-intersection, take a left. You will see Double Falls in about .3 miles on your left.
Triple Falls, off of Line Creek, Kansas City North, Missouri
Triple Falls is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there, but trust me, you do not want to miss it. If you wear rainboots, you can easily walk around the top of the falls without getting wet, because it is so shallow.
There is a geocache hidden near these falls. It is a fun find, but you will have to take a short, uneven trail and maneuver around a fallen tree. It’s worth it for the best views of the falls and the thrill of finding a new cache.
It’s a short, paved walk to this waterfall, although there is one steep hill. To find Triple Falls, park at Line Creek Community Center Trailhead. When you get to the T-intersection, take a right. You will see Triple Falls in about .9 miles on your right.
Parkville Nature Sanctuary, Parkville, Missouri
Even if Parkville Nature Sanctuary did not have one of the largest waterfalls in the Kansas City area, it would still be one of the best places to experience nature in the metro area. There are multiple streams, wetlands, native plants and pollinators, and beautiful trails.
The Old Kate Trail is a 1.5 mile loop through the Nature Sanctuary with the waterfall. There are upper and lower falls, with a bridge you can walk across in between. The upper falls are bigger, but usually not rushing unless it is after a big rain. The lower falls are smaller. I have seen these falls in every season, and they never disappoint.
Tryst Falls, between Excelsior Springs and Kearney, Missouri
If you’re looking to see falls with someone who cannot hike very far, Tryst Falls are a great option. You can practically drive up to these falls. This is a small park with a shelter, picnic areas, and a small playground.
You can park on either side of the falls. Personally I love viewing them from multiple directions, because they are all a little different and beautiful. You can also walk on the rocks above the falls or view them down by the water below.
There are signs that warn against swimming or playing in the water here. I believe there are potentially dangerous chemicals or farm runoff, so we just observe these falls and refrain from playing in the water.
Prairie Creek Waterfall, Platte City, Missouri
Hartman Park Falls, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Legacy Park Waterfall, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Carl Chinnery, Nature Trail, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Indian Creek Falls, State Line Road, Kansas
Wiley Falls, Lawrence, Kansas
Briarcliff Waterfall, Riverside, Missouri
Waterfall Park, Bass Pro Shops, Independence Missouri
Cliff Drive Waterfall, Northeast Kansas City, Missouri