Kansas City is a sweet mix of urban mountain biking, classic pathways, and world-class gravel.
To describe cycling in KC, it makes sense to start with cycling outside of KC. The gravel riding here — with rolling hills, pristine tallgrass prairie ecosystems, and perfectly dirty roads — has risen to international fame.
Unbound Gravel, which began in Emporia in 2006 with 34 riders, now brings in 4,000-plus participants and is considered one of the world’s top gravel events. But there’s no shortage of other races, including the Lunar Kanza, the Pony Express Gravel Dash, the Cannonball 550, and Rage Against the Chainring.
Kansas City itself is a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community, thanks to hundreds of miles of paved trails spanning the metro area and weaving back and forth across the Kansas–Missouri state line. Our top picks: the mostly flat, 17-mile Gary Haller Trail (from Nelson Island, on the Kansas River, to Olathe) and the quiet and easy riding on the pretty 23-mile Indian Creek Bike Trail, which connects lots of parks and playgrounds.
Urban KC also has surprisingly accessible mountain biking, whether you hit the 15 miles of rocky trails and nice flow of the Blue River Parkway Trail — or try the 20 miles of stacked loops in Swope Park, which range from mellow curves to tree rides and gap jumps. No matter where you ride, you’ll likely catch glimpse of limestone bluffs, expansive valleys, and gently sloping forest. For a longer adventure, cruise the crushed limestone of the 118-mile Flint Hills trail, where you can still glimpse old wagon ruts and remnants of trading posts left from the earliest days of exploring the West.
If you’re after a traditional organized event, sign up for the Wild West Ride, with distances ranging from the Shetland Pony (14 miles) to the Thoroughbred (100 miles).