I saw the ribbon of fresh, white concrete this spring as I drove north on Interstate 29. They’ve finished new segments of the Line Creek Trail, I thought. Sure enough, a press release arrived later announcing a trail dedication, which was held on Saturday, National Trails Day. So on Sunday, I walked the new trail along with a family member. This new system is part of the Kansas City park system, with an assist from Platte County and connections to Riverside. The Platte County Parks and Recreation Department and the cities have done a fine job coordinating and building. This is a wonderful trail. We hopped on board the trail at Frank Vaydik Line Creek Park. There’s a parking lot near the city’s Community Center at the park. You walk across the bridge. Then you must decide if you are going to go north or south along the west bank of Line Creek. We went south. Walking in this direction the stream is on the left and the wooded bluff on the right. This trail in the Line Creek Parkway preserves some of the prettiest, Ozark-like scenery to be found in the Northland and the metro area. The stream has broad limestone ledges in this segment that create waterfalls. Recent rains had the stream flowing strong. The water made a lovely, rippling, gurgling sound over the waterfalls. What a pretty place to walk in June, or to ride a bicycle. The trail is wide and smooth, it’s concrete yet to be heaved and cracked a bit by Midwestern winters and summers. Bridges and rivulet crossings are tastefully designed. I’m reminded of walking this same segment of river a long time ago in August during a severe drought. I’d been shown some other spots and told some stories by members of the Renner family of Riverside. These men have since passed away but I remember their tales of fishing and swimming in the stream and also in feeder creeks on the upper end. They were passionate about Line Creek and the waterfalls. On this day I’d gone on by myself on the same downstream segment I walked on Sunday. I was struck by finding a couple of streams of water, from springs I guess, flowing out from the bluff despite withering drought. The new trail has spans over those inflows. Just four years ago, I also walked this same segment of trail and wrote about it for The Citizen. On that trip I started following an old farm road. Then the road narrowed into a dirt path. I had to climb over some downed trees the farther south I went. I carried an ultralight spinning rod and caught bluegill and small bass from the stream’s pools a foot or two deep. I found some water holes with signs that others fished the creek, too. I suspect that if you grew up in a house or subdivision near the creek, especially up on the ridge, and considered it your hideaway wilderness, the new trail is a mixed blessing. I have mixed feelings as a now-and-then visitor. But the trail is in a growing city. The natural areas will be better preserved with use. Kansas City parks will likely need some help from volunteers in the future controlling invasive species like shrub honeysuckle. Some flat openings between trail and stream offer opportunities for native wildflowers and grasses. Maybe this will heighten support for enforcement of measures on construction sites that prevent excessive soil erosion and cause siltation in Line Creek. That the creek follows the bluff so close throughout means farmers decades ago pushed the channel into place near the bluff. Maybe in the long run efforts can be made to shore up banks and enhance water depth in pools. For now, though, I’m impressed with the quality of construction along this trail. Kansas City built a sewer main in this valley decades ago and trail construction hid segments that once had been exposed by erosion. I will say that on my walk on Sunday there were some uneasy moments between some bicyclists and walkers. The trail is so smooth right now, and there are some downhill grades, it’s really easy to get up speed on the trail on a bicycle. But encountering pedestrians requires some braking, weaving and vocal warnings about which side they’re passing on. Experienced cyclists were pretty good about the vocal warning. Yet not all were. Some family groups with five or six cyclists were hitting the trail, which is great, glad to see it, but poses challenges. Trail managers are going to need some pretty good signage politely asking joggers, pedestrians and cyclists to watch out for each other and share the road. But we’ll all get the hang of the trail in time. I can’t wait to walk or bicycle on other segments. For those who designed and built this trail – well done and thanks. Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.