I had previously flown into Kansas City to visit some waterfalls in eastern Kansas and outside Kansas City, but I did not see this waterfall pop up in my searches from years ago. As we were traveling cross-country, I searched for Missouri waterfalls, and this falls appeared. I did a bit of research and found out the falls are in the Parkville Nature Sanctuary northwest of Kansas City.
The falls are often referred to as the Parkville Nature Sanctuary waterfall. I have been informed that the falls are on White Alloe Creek, so I decided to refer to them as White Alloe Creek Falls, which is a bit easier to communicate.
When we arrived at the parking area for the nature sanctuary, it was warm and humid. Luckily, the path was mostly shaded, and the hike is relatively short. It’s just under 1 mile round-trip and is on mostly level ground. Even then, we were still sweating a lot. But once you near the waterfall, it definitely cools down a bit. The waterfall isn’t tall, but it is definitely a beautiful waterfall. It’s a pleasant surprise, one that I would definitely direct people to for a day hike in the Kansas City area.
From I-635, you want to end up on MO-9, heading northwest.
Continue on MO-9 into Parkville. You will need to turn right to stay on MO-9.
In between 12th Street and 13th Street (on the right), you will find parking for the Parkville Nature Sanctuary.
After parking, you will find signs that direct you the falls.
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
There are two major thoughts that come to mind when I think about Tryst Falls. First off, let’s start with the name. I knew what the definition of tryst was, but had to go and check just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. After confirming I wasn’t going crazy, I had to search and see if there was any history behind the name. According to a historian of this area in Missouri, the waterfall used to be a meeting place for lovers…how sweet.
Now that we’ve taken care of the name, let’s talk about the falls. Tryst Falls just goes to show that there isn’t a really great database of all of the waterfalls in some states. States such as Washington, Oregon, and New York (just to name a few) have pretty comprehensive databases because there are so many waterfalls in the area, and people expect to find waterfalls in the area. On the other hand, states like Kansas and Missouri seem to be lacking because people don’t picture “waterfall” when they think of Missouri or Kansas. So it was with great surprise that I stumbled upon Tryst Falls when searching for waterfalls near Kansas City. A number of the falls listed on one site were artificial, but this one isn’t.
Tryst Falls is 5-7′ tall, so understandably it’s not on everyone’s radar. On the other hand, there is a park designated for the falls, and it is a really great park. On a sunny day, I would definitely suggest going and having a picnic near the falls. Luckily, yesterday when I visited the falls, it had been raining on and off, so there was definitely water flowing over the falls. I imagine that in the depths of summer, the waterfall might dry up or be a trickle. The best time to visit would probably be in spring, or after an impressive rainfall. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit just this one waterfall, though if you’re in the Kansas City area, it is not a difficult drive, being just a few miles east of Kearney. And as I’ve hinted, there are other waterfalls in the region, though they may not be big and well advertised. (Check out this website if you want more info.)
Once you get to Kearney, MO, this is very easy to find. Kearney is right off of I-35 north of Kansas City. I’m not sure what the exit number is, but the sign will say “Kearney” and MO-92.
Once you exit I-35, head east on MO-92, which you will likely already be driving on.
Keep driving east on MO-92 for about 6 miles to Tryst Falls Park, which if headed east will be found on your right. There are clear signs indicating where the park entrance is.
After entering the park, take the gravel road to the right. Drive toward the creek, and it’s pretty difficult to miss the falls.
Accessibility: 10/10 (great amenities at the park, too)
Length of Hike: roadside
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