Weston Bend Bottomlands
View overlooking Weston Bend from Ft. Leavenworth
- All photos by Jim Mason
|Lewis and Clark watched wildlife here!
Weston Bend, alongside the Missouri River below
the limestone bluffs that anchor Fort Leavenworth, has one of the best-preserved
riparian bottomlands in Kansas.
Before the construction of dikes, jetties and levees, the Missouri
meandered between the east and west bluffs, leaving oxbow lakes and depositing enough
fertile soil to produce a paradise of plants and animals. A network of trails from the
main levee takes you through woodlands, old croplands, and marshes and along sloughs and
In the mature woodlands of cottonwood, sycamore, hackberry, and walnut, listen for
pileated woodpeckers hammering holes in dead trees. The tops of some sycamores hold
four-feet-wide stick nests of great blue herons. The young riparian woodlands contain
immature cottonwood, elm, and ash, as well as elderberries and raspberries. The tender
cottonwood shoots and branches provide great browsing for white-tailed deer and beaver.
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce was
once held prisoner in this 5,600 acre Missouri River floodplain forest below Fort
Leavenworth. Dominated by huge sycamores and cottonwoods, Weston Bend Bottomlands is a
classic example of a mature riparian woodland, appearing nearly the same as in the days of
Lewis and Clark.
The birding at Weston
Bend is notable, with 120 recorded
breeding species and lots to see during spring and fall! Towhees, grosbeaks,
buntings, warblers, orioles, and vireos are abundant during migrations. Spring rains can
turn the bottomlands into an attractive wetland, harboring thousands of migrating
waterfowl. Coyotes, foxes, and raccoons take advantage of the bounty.
As you complete the Chief Joseph Loop,
watch for Sheridan Drive and take it uphill to your right. This is a
scenic drive through mature upland woodlands on loess soils (formed during
the time of the Pleistocene glaciers). It eventually winds back to
the base near the national cemetery. Proceed east on Pope Ave. to
Grant and turn right to return to the base entrance.
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No developed trails.
Click the icon to find a birding list for Leavenworth County.
Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches
|Directions: In Leavenworth
(20 miles NW of Kansas City),
take Metropolitan Avenue (U.S. 73) to the entrance of Fort Leavenworth at 7th Street.
(NOTE: You will have to enter the military base to
visit Weston Bend. Since the 9-11 attacks, increased security measures
are in place. Have your photo I.D. ready and tell the guards where you
are going. Your vehicle will be searched.)
Take Grant Avenue for about 1.5 miles to the Disciplinary
Barracks. To the right of the barracks is Riverside Drive. Take it
downhill to your right about 0.2
mile to Chief Joseph Loop. Cross the railroad tracks and go just past the
picnic grounds. The loop, which becomes the levee road from which the trails
are found, is one way and will lead you back to Riverside Drive.
For a Google Map of this site,
The entity responsible for management of Weston Bend is
the U.S. Army. Contact them at
(913) 684-3781 if you have specific
questions about use or management of this site, or write them at:
Directorate of Engineering and Housing, Bldg. 85
Fort Leavenworth KS 66027
Funded by the
Chickadee Checkoff Program
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