I’ve been travelling too much for my taste recently, and was on the road again Thursday and Friday, but found time to take a bit of a break while passing through Independence, Missouri. While my wife did some shopping, I took the opportunity to ride a bit of the Little Blue Trace Trail, which runs for about 14 miles along the Little Blue River in Independence (see map).
The trail itself is fine riding, but what I found interesting was that it connects residential areas to shopping and entertainment areas, passing within sight of the Independence Events Center, restaurants, strip malls, and the Independence Center Shopping Mall. It’s great to see a trail that actually goes places, that can be a much shorter, quicker, and less stressful way to run errands than driving on busy roads. Nice!
The trail surface is mixed. Some sections are concrete, others are natural surface (very fine chat). It appears that they paved the elevation changes to reduce rutting, and left the flat areas graveled, which is a pretty nifty way to stretch limited funds. Even after recent rains, all the sections I rode were in excellent shape, and I saw folks in skinny-tired road bikes on the trail, so the graveled surface didn’t appear to be an issue for them.
Here, the trail passes beneath I-70, which was pretty well packed with the evening rush hour traffic (and I’d been part of that throng myself just minutes before). This is not the most scenic or pleasant part of the trail, but it’s a pretty good feeling to simply roll on by, and not be troubled by, all that traffic. 🙂
I only had time to ride an out-and-back on about 4 miles of the 14-mile trail, starting at Lee’s Summit Road, so I’ll need to go back to ride the rest of it some time. There are plans to extend the trail at both ends — taking it north to the Missouri River at Fort Osage, and south to Longview Lake, making for about 36 miles of trail in total. Looking forward to that.
As I said, I didn’t ride the whole thing (yet), but the only part of the trail that I found wanting was the far western end, where the trail ran between the river and residential areas. This was actually great, and I found myself envying the people who lived in those houses and apartments with such easy access to the trail.
But I felt bad for the people who lived on the other side of the river. They could see the trail from their back doors, could watch folks walking or riding by and enjoying the outdoors, but had no easy way to actually get to the trail themselves, short of loading up the bikes and hauling them to a trailhead with their car. That must be incredibly frustrating. The city needs to build some bike/ped bridges across the river!