Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area

Driving Directions

In Blue Springs, take Highway 7 north of I-70 for 1.10 miles, then west 1 mile on Park Road to the area.


This area is mostly forested, but it also features established prairies, restored glades, savannas, woodlands, numerous ponds, and creeks. Facilities/features: A large nature center offering exhibits and interpretive programs, picnic areas, pavilions, six hiking trails, viewing/photo blind, and viewing decks and bridges. There is also Burr Oak Creek and scenic limestone exposures.

About This Area

Nature Center Hours Tuesday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Nature Center and area grounds are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day. Area Hours: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. DST 7 days per week; 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. CST 7 days per week Closed on Thanksgiving, day after Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and all state holidays on Mondays

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, 1401 NW Park Rd., Blue Springs, MO 64015-7727; Phone 816/228-3766; Fax 816/655-6267; www.mdc.mo.gov/areas/cnc/burroak/ or http://www.missouriconservation.org/

Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area is in Jackson County, 20 miles east of downtown Kansas City. The area is composed of 1,071 acres of woodlands, fields and ponds and includes a scenic portion of Burr Oak Creek.

Burr Oak Woods was purchased in 1977. Its natural features include forested hillsides that quickly drop as much as 100 feet. Scattered limestone boulders and outcrops, with 8-foot-deep mazes through them, add interest to the area.

Nearly 70 percent of Burr Oak Woods is forested and contains a wide variety of tree species, including bur oak, white oak, red oak, chinkapin oak, black walnut, hackberry, white ash, shagbark hickory, Kentucky coffeetree, and many others. Understory trees include roughleaf dogwood, redbud, pawpaw, slippery elm, and Ohio buckeye.

Additional natural features include glades, fields, rock outcrops, ponds, wildlife, streams and native grass plantings. Open land and forest management practices that benefit wildlife such as native prairie plantings, food plots, brush piles, invasive species control, old field succession, savanna restoration, walnut agroforestry, a wild edible food plot, and an oak plantation can be seen along the main road. These practices are maintained by tree thinning, prescribed burning, or mowing. Several woodlands, savannas, and glades on the area have also been restored in the same manner. Visit the nature center to learn more about these land management practices.

General Information

Kansas City



Owned by MDC,Agreement

(Activity Explanations)
(Population Definition)
Bird Watching  Burr Oak Woods is a favorite spot for birders, both local and those coming from afar. A birding check-off list is available at the front desk. The Nature Center features an indoor bird viewing area. Get the Audubon Society of Missouri Conservation Area Bird List.  
Demonstrations  Several demonstration sites can be found on the area including glade, savanna, and woodland natural community restorations, established prairie plantings, walnut agroforestry, wild edible food plot, crop tree release, food plots, brush piles, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, water garden, a photo blind and landscaping with native plants. The short loop of the Habitat Trail includes demonstration sites showing how tree harvesting and thinning improves forest health and wildlife habitat.  
Exhibits/Displays  Interactive, hands-on displays and exhibits in the 15,000 square-foot nature center including a 3,000 gallon aquarium, indoor wildlife viewing room, and interpretive exhibits on the fish, forest and aquatic habitats of Missouri. 
Highlighted Activities  Reservations for interpretive programs can be made in advance for the general public, or call for group reservations. Burr Oak Woods is especially known for the outstanding special events such as Prairie Days and Friday Night Live. Call the Nature Center for details about the programs and events.  
Hiking  Burr Oak Woods offers many unique hiking opportunities with 6 hiking trails. The J. Ernest Dunn Jr. Discovery Trail is paved and 0.50 mile. The Missouri Tree Trail is paved, disabled accessible and 0.75 mile. The Habitat Trail is 1.50 miles with a short loop option and gravel base surface. The Hickory Grove Trail is a linear 1.15 miles with a gravel base and the only trail where jogging is allowed. The Bethany Falls Trail is 1.33 miles, wood-chipped and ranked the number one hiking trail in the Kansas City area. The Prairie Connector Trail is a 0.50 mile that connects the J. Earnest Dunn Jr. Discovery Trail to the Bethany Falls Trail.  
Hunting-Deer Good population. Managed Deer Hunts Only. Contact office for application procedures and deadlines. 
Hunting-Turkey Good population. Managed spring youth turkey hunts only. Contact office for application procedures and deadlines.  
Nature Viewing  Scenic limestone outcrops can be found throughout Burr Oak Woods. The Bethany Falls Trail takes you through some of these exposures. Driving through the area provides many opportunites to see deer, turkey, and other wildlife. 
Tours  Interpretive nature programs for the general public can be found in the Kansas City Nature & You newsletter. Programs for organized groups are available with a reservation at least two weeks in advance. Call the Nature Center for details.  

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Conservation Department Facilities
Facility Item Name Count Comments
Dock - FishingaccessibleW. Robert Aylward Educational Pond  Scheduled educational fishing programs only; not open to the general public.  
Parking Lotaccessible  Public parking lots are paved except for the parking lot on Strode Rd. Gravel parking lot near dock has a concrete pad.  
Pavilionaccessible  One is near the Bethany Falls Trail head. The other is at the W. Robert Aylward Educational Pond and is not open to the general public.  
Picnic Tableaccessible 25   
Staffed OfficeaccessibleBurr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center   
Viewing Blindaccessible  A viewing blind is located along the Missouri Tree Trail. 
Viewing Deck/Toweraccessible  Viewing platforms are located along the Missouri Tree Trail, the J. Ernest Dunn Jr. Discovery Trail, and the Bethany Falls Trail. Note: the Bethany Falls Trail is NOT disabled accessible.  
Visitor CenteraccessibleBurr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center  It is a staffed office with exhibits/displays. 

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Feature Item Name Count Size Comments
Fishing Lake or Pond W. Robert Aylward Educational Pond 1.50 acres Pond is available only for education programs and not open to the general public.  
Fishless Pond  14 4.00 acres The numerous fishless ponds found throughout the conservation area offer breeding and respite opportunities to amphibians, reptiles, songbirds and mammals. 
Other Viewing blind 0.00 count A viewing blind is located along the Tree Trail. 
Other Visitor Center 0.00 count The large, interpretive nature center contains a 3,000-gallon aquarium; interactive, hands-on exhibits; a large wildlife viewing room; restrooms and helpful staff. 
Stream - Intermittent  15 0.00 miles  
Stream - Permanent  3.00 miles  
Stream - Permanent Burr Oak Creek 1.00 miles Burr Oak Creek dissects the property and is the namesake of this conservation area. The creek was historically misspelled, and so the conservation area carries the misspelling. Burr Oak Woods is named after this creek, not the bur oak tree, as many believe. 

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Land Cover Types
Land Type Acres Comments
Forest and Woodland 833.00  
Crop Land 35.00  
Glade 10.00 Various stages of restoration. 
Old Field 78.00  
Grassland (non-prairie) 115.00 Includes 94 acres of planted prairie at varying stages of development. 
Total Area Acres:1071.42 

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Designated Trails
Trail Name Trail Type Length
Missouri Tree Trail (Easy)accessibleDisabled-Accessible Trail 0.75 
Bethany Falls Trail (Moderate) Hiking (Interpretive) 1.33 
Habitat Trail (Easy) Hiking (Interpretive) 1.50 
J. Ernest Dunn Jr. Trail (Easy) Hiking (Interpretive) 0.50 
Prairie Connector Trail (Easy) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 0.50 
Hickory Grove Trail (Easy) Hiking (Non-Interpretive) 1.15 

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Shooting Range General Information

This area has no shooting ranges.

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