It’s hard to say how many waterfalls in Kansas are truly natural. Many of them seem to be formed by dams, and so the question goes…”Did this exist before somebody altered the landscape?” In the case of Cedar Creek Falls, I’m pretty sure humans had some say in how the water flows, so I’m not sure whether it’s “natural.” It still looks more like a waterfall than some of the other falls I’ve seen on websites.
Cedar Creek Falls is in the same vicinity as Cedar Lake Falls, and are somewhat related. Cedar Creek starts at Cedar Lake and flows into Lake Olathe. This particular waterfall is only 4 or 5′ tall, and isn’t extremely exciting. If you’re looking for Kansas waterfalls, though, it is easy to visit, and isn’t very far from Kansas City. It also isn’t difficult to find, though it can be difficult to park near the falls. There is a pullout, but it has space for 1.5 cars! There was another car there, so I parked as far off the road as I could. Luckily, the lane was very wide, so I had some breathing room.
- From I-35/US-50, take exit 217 and continue west along E Old 56 Highway.
- Continue straight along this road, which will turn into KS-7.
- KS-7 starts heading north. Turn right, continuing on KS-7 (also known as S Parker Street) for a very short distance.
- By short, I mean short. Almost immediately after turning right, turn left onto W 143rd Street.
- Continue along W 143rd Street (aka W Dennis Ave) for what might be a mile or so…Pay attention closely. When you see S Wardcliff Drive on your right (with a sign indicating Lake Olathe), the falls will be almost directly on the other side of the road (on the left). You’ll see a smaller gravel “parking area”, an old building, and the creek. It’s pretty easy to turn around on the side-roads. (If you come to S Palmer Drive, you’ve gone too far. Turn around, and the falls will now be to your right.)
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: roadside
Cedar Creek Falls in mid-April 2014
Where in the World is Cedar Creek Falls?
I’m getting closer to visiting waterfalls in most of the states, and I’ve just added Kansas to the list. Kansas is complicated, since many of the waterfalls there seem to be man-made, while others haven’t been reported because somebody just doesn’t seem to think they’re significant. As I searched even further, I found there may be a number of other smaller waterfalls that aren’t being advertised.
Cedar Lake Falls is advertised fairly well, at least on the website I found it on. It’s relatively easy to get to, though the Access Road to the falls is rather narrow (not as narrow as one of the other roads I was on!). It’s also relatively close to Kansas City, so it would make a great day trip. Cedar Lake is very popular for fishing, especially on a beautiful day, as was this past Saturday.
Cedar Lake Falls isn’t particularly tall, only about 5 or 6′. I’m guessing it probably dries up when the lake is not as full, as it is fed by overflow from Cedar Lake. There is a man-made structure above this falls, though it seems this is a legitimate drop created by nature (though I could be completely wrong). I’m not sure that I would go out of my way to visit just this one waterfall (even though it was very peaceful just to sit there and watch the water flow), but Cedar Creek Falls is nearby, and there might be another waterfall in Waterfall Park in Merriam. The same link previously posted indicates there may be another waterfall in Olathe at the Ernie Miller Nature Center. (As with many of these, it’s difficult to determine whether they’re natural.) In the vicinity on the Missouri side, you might also be able to visit some waterfalls at the Parkville Nature Sanctuary in Parkville, MO. I didn’t have a chance to visit many of these falls, since time was limited and I hadn’t even stumbled upon the link provided.
- From Kansas City, you could enter into Kansas and head south along I-35. Take exit 214, which might only be available if you’re headed southwest.
- You should end up on S Lone Elm Street, which is very near the entrance to the park.
- Turn left onto S Lone Elm Street.
- Turn right onto W 159th Street.
- Go maybe 0.5 miles to the Access Road to the park, which will have a gate indicating the times the park is open.
- Turn right onto the Access Road and follow it to the fork. Take the left fork, which seems narrow at first, but widens. Go to the very end of the access road, where you’ll find a loop. Park here.
- At the end of the loop, look for a narrow but somewhat obvious trail that leads past the spillway. Keep walking along this trail until you find the falls. If water is flowing, it’s not difficult to miss.
Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: negligible
Cedar Lake Falls in April 2014
Where in the World is Cedar Lake Falls?