Best Kayak Trip

Kansas River, Johnson County Streamway and Forests

An afternoon far from home is no trick on the Kansas River. The Wilder Road River Access is off I-435 and Holliday Drive. Put your kayak on Mill Creek at the bottom of the concrete steps near the parking area, and glide into a world without hustle and bustle. Paddle down the narrow, quiet stream to the Kansas River just west of the I-435 bridge. From there, paddle upstream (just downstream from the interstate bridge is a long diversion dam that makes trouble for even the most experienced kayaker). The Kansas River flows gently, demanding a workout, but it's not back-breaking work. As you pass Nelson Island you'll get a glimpse of snipe, great blue heron, all manner of duck, and Canada geese. (The island itself is worthy of exploration -- a lonely piece of wilderness between the Argentine neighborhood on the south bank and a Board of Public Utilities power plant on the north). Beyond the island, paddle as far as you like. But Bonner Springs, where there's nary a trace of human habitation, marks the halfway mark and turnaround for the 10- to 12-mile trip (three to four hours). The downstream trip back to sleepy Mill Creek takes about a third of the time, and it's leisurely -- a fitting end to a wilderness adventure in the city.

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