Map of the Flint Hills Nature Trail

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Flint Hills Nature Trail

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Flint Hills Nature Trail

LENGTH:

117 miles

SURFACE:

compacted crushed limestone / natural

COMMUNITIES:

Council Grove, Bushong, Allen, Osage City, Vassar, Ottowa, Osawatomie

HIGHLIGHTS:

farmland, wetlands, creek crossings

NEARBY TRAILS:

Prairie Spirit Rail Trail

RELATED LINKS:

Kansas City

Topeka

The Flint Hills Nature Trail extends for 117 miles across East Central Kansas. The route of the trail follows along the abandoned railroad bed of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The route of the Flint Hills Nature Trail extends from Herington to Osawatomie

The Flint Hills Nature Trail is located about 27 miles south of Topeka and travels through the Flint Hills area of East Central Kansas. This area is one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems. There are natural tall grass plants and native wildlife in this region of Kansas. Most of the trail goes through wide open prairie, forested sections and farmland and a portion of the trail follows alongside the Marais De Cygnes River, situated between the river and the bluffs. The trail uses multiple historic railroad bridges along its route as well.

Conditions

The Flint Hills Nature Trail is open for non-motorized uses, such as bike riding, hiking, running and horseback riding. There are few road crossings and much of the trail is quite remote.

The trail is unpaved and is being developed by private resources and its condition has been improved to various levels along its route. Some sections have been improved with a crushed limestone surface, other sections are a natural but cleared dirt pathway other sections are not developed and are closed to travel. Consult the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy website for conditions and open/closed sections before visiting the trail. Currently there are 77 miles of improved unpaved trail that are suitable for bike riding, but maybe not suitable for road bikes with narrow tires.

There are long sections of the Flint Hills Nature Trail where there are no services. Come prepared. Also watch for changes in the weather as there is little in the way of shelter. The Flint Hills Nature Trail from Herington to Council Grove is under development and not suitable for travel.

Communities

The route of the Flint Hills Nature Trail passes through several communities (west to east):

  • Council Grove
  • Bushong
  • Allen
  • Admire
  • Osage City
  • Vassar
  • Pamona
  • Ottowa
  • Ramoul
  • Osawatomie
Nearby Trails

In Ottowa, the Prairie Spirit Trail takes off to the south. There is a connection between the two trail routes on the north end of Ottowa, near the Old Depot Museum and Forest Park. There is a short section of the Flint Hills Nature Trail that has been improved in this area near the Orlis Cox Sports Complex. The Prairie Spirit Trail takes off to the south from the Old Depot Museum and heads south. You need to ride along S. Walnut Street for a few blocks, then the main separate path for the Prairie Spirit Trail picks up on W 5th Street. The Prairie Spirit Trail extends for 52 miles from Ottowa to the community of Iola. In Iola it connects with the Southwind Rail Trail.

End Points

The improved trail starts on the east side of Council Grove at Walnut Street and Donnon Street. There is no parking at this location.

There are gaps in the trail around the community of Pamona. The trail is continuous from the east side of Ottowa to Osawatomie.

The east end of the trail is located in Osawatomie. There are improved and unimproved stretches of the trail that wrap around the south side of the city. Trail users must cross railroad tracks in a couple of locations.

There are long range plans for the Flint Hills Nature Trail to intersect with the Landon Nature Trail at a location southeast of Pamona Lake. The Landon Nature Trail currently travels for 10 miles from central Topeka heading along an abandoned railroad bed to the farm country southeast of the city.


Resources

Following are links to official off-site resources to find out more details about the Flint Hills Nature Trail in Central Kansas.