Lawrence River Hiking (and biking) Trails in Kansas: a guide for hikers
It's an 8.75 mile extremely well maintained, mostly shaded trail that follows along the Kansas River in Lawrence Kansas. (alltrails.com has it listed as Kansas River Trail.) This is a very nice trail, that has been well planned out, constructed, and maintained.
At 8.75 miles for the entire loop, the trail is a bit on the longer side, but it is mostly flat so not too bad. Unfortunately, the inclines that are on the trail are mostly at the end of the hike, but you're nearly there so just push through it!
IMPORTANT: Direction of travel on the Lawrence River Trail/Kansas River Trail
You will likely meet bikes on this trail, LOTS of bikes, but serious props go out to the Lawrence Mountain Bike Club for an extremely well planned out one-way loop trail design that makes it possible for hikers and bikers alike to enjoy the same trail. If you have ever been on a trail shared by hikers and bikers, you may be familiar with the frustrations that can ensue. With great forethought, they have arranged the direction of this trail so that hikers and bikers are meeting each other head on. So instead of running the risk of being run over from behind by a stealthy rider on a fast-moving bike, you'll be approached from the front instead. Be sure to enter the trail marked "hikers."
FYI: The sign at the beginning of the trail does state that bikers should yield to hikers. However, I did not relish the idea of finding myself on the losing end of a game of chicken with a fast-moving mountain bike. Just step to side and let them pass.
navigating the trail
The trail is extremely well marked, with plenty of signs throughout the hike. While on the trail, I was able to pull it up on google maps (which I personally thought was more accurate than the map on the alltrails app.) There are also scannable QR codes located throughout the hike that allow you to access the bike club's trail map.
The trail in photos:
trail hiking traffic
Although we met lots of bikers, we only saw maybe two other hikers during the 3-4 hours we spent on the trail, and they were running so lapped us pretty quickly. I assume that this is due to the one-way direction of the hiking trail, and possibly because we started out fairly early in the morning. (10:00 am on an almost perfect weather-wise Saturday morning)
additional hiking options:
Sugar Loop is an add on loop located a little less than half-way through the hike. It adds another 1.7 miles to your hike total. It can also be reached from the Levee trail. We didn't make it onto this trail this time around so I can't provide any further information at this time.
The Kansas River Levee trail also has an access point/trail head at this parking area.
The park entrance and parking lot are just off 8th & Oak streets in North Lawrence.
Nope. Best use the port-a-potty at the parking area entrance before you set out. If you're a squatter (female, to take a tinkle) you may find it difficult to find a place to do so. While the trail is well maintained, just off the trail is pretty weedy. If you don't mind getting off into the tall weeds and grass you MIGHT find an opportunity between bike traffic.
yes! must be leashed and for their safety it would be best to adhere to this particular rule. Those bikes can come around a bend quite fast.
Due to the near constant bike traffic, as a female, I would feel safe hiking this trail alone.
The Lawrence River Trails are a great way to spend a few hours and you should be able to hike it almost any time of the year. A special thank you to Lawrence Mountain Bike Club for keeping this trail so well maintained and allowing us to hike your bike trail! Now get out there and get moving!