Brian Nowotny took a few steps off the trail he was hiking and paused to soak in the beauty of his surroundings.
A small waterfall churned the water of a creek that wound its way through a wooded landscape. Trees formed a canopy over the trail and provided shade on a hot summer day. And squirrels chattered at the sight of human intruders.
A scene from the Ozarks? Hardly.
Nowotny was hiking the Line Creek Trail, just a stone’s throw from busy suburban life in Kansas City, North. This was an island of tranquility in the middle of fast-paced city life. And that’s exactly what Nowotny had in mind when his Platte County Parks and Recreation Department collaborated with Kansas City to build the trail.
“We’re 10 minutes from downtown, but you would never know it,” Nowotny said. “You can barely hear the hum of traffic.
“This trail gives people a chance to get back to nature close to home. We get heavy use each day, from hikers, bicyclists, people just wanting to walk their dog.
“It really is a beautiful place.”
Nowotny was a key figure in the development of that trail. When Platte County residents were polled about how they envisioned the county in the future, a majority indicated they wanted to see more green spaces preserved — more parks, more hiking trails.
Platte County went on to partner with Kansas City to build the trail along the Line Creek corridor, and it has proven to be a big hit. Today, Kansas City maintains the trail, which is centered behind the Line Creek Community Center in Kansas City, North. But Platte County, which helped fund the construction, continues to be a strong partner.
There’s little doubt that the 8.3-mile trail, which extends from the Missouri River to Missouri 152, is popular. Trail counts conducted by Platte County indicate the paved path averages 500 to 600 users daily.
Nowotny was one of the many using the trail on a recent weekend. Though he recently resigned his post in Platte County to accept a similar job with the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department, he was happy to return and showcase some of the trails he helped build.
He and Neil Davidson, a member of the park board, and Pat Medill of the Friends of Platte County Parks, also hiked a section of the Prairie Creek Greenway Trail, a 4-mile path south of Platte City. There, too, the trail is a retreat from suburbia. In fact, some of the access points are set right in the middle of subdivisions.
Platte County has ties to other trails as well.
For the area north of the Missouri River, that amounts to big change. Though the county still doesn’t have the trail system that some other Kansas City-area counties do, it has gone from “zero miles of trails to 30 in 15 years,” Nowotny said. And there are plans for even bigger and better things.
All of the trails were the result of partnerships, primarily with the cities of Kansas City, Riverside and Parkville.
“These trails wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the partnerships to share the costs,” Davidson said. “We have some beautiful trails in Platte County, and we hope to build more.”