Trail was very pretty, first time I tried to find it followed Google and thought perhaps it'd been cleared out as there was a park with paved path. The natural area is across the street from the parks parking lot. Was pretty clear where the trail was until reached the highway going counter clockwise. After passing the highway area it gets a bit sketchy. wound up losing the path in the second clearing so walked through the clearing to the apartment complex on the other side. Encountered a family that had the same issue with losing the path. Leaves could have perhaps been a contributing factor. All in all not a bad trail. Did see a couple shelter remains but looked long abandoned. Pretty area.
I found no evidence of a homeless encampment and I have hiked all of the trail system here. It is a beautiful old growth forest with lots of topography challenges. Much longer main trail than the listed 1.4miles. The trail loops, but passes through two large clearings, so be on the lookout for trailhead's in the clearings. This is a lot of awesome packed into a very small package. I highly recommend it.
K M. on Hidden Valley Natural Area Loop
Like the reviewer below, I was seeking a nature hike close to home, and this one had been included in the Hiking Kansas City guide. I would not recommend this trail to people hiking alone, especially women. I think there is a homeless encampment in here. I saw the party area dump noted below, and walked to the ravine overlook. I also walked around it and found toilet paper/feces, as well as campfire remains. I got a very bad vibe, and walked onward. A little farther on, my spidey senses went on high alert, there was a loud rustling in the woods, a plastic grocery bag flew up in the air, and I got the feeling I was being scared off. So I got the @#$% out of Dodge! I finally came to an open field that felt safer, followed that a little further and found a sleeping bag. Immediately headed toward the nearby townhome complex to leave.
Because of a busy Saturday, my wife and I needed a short hike close to home and found it at Hidden Valley Natural Area. Parks and Rec is carrying out a nice natural planting program there, so there were lots of wildflowers as we started our hike. The trail quickly leads into the woods, but not before crossing over what must be a major party spot, judging from the amount of beer bottles, cartons, and charcoal bags. There are also lots of tire marks up until the trail enters the woods. The trail intersects with an east-west trail, and if you turn west, you quickly come to a lookout built over a deep ravine. That's as far as we went, but there were paths from there that I've heard lead back to a cliff overlooking The Missouri River valley and the old Sam's Club Casino. There are other side paths that we didn't explore but could spend the better part of a morning doing so if we were so inclined.