Prairie Spirit Trail and Flint Hills Trail State Parks: Ottawa, KS
For this month’s segment, we decided to feature something a little different and celebrate a civic and community-inspired project that has helped make eastern Kansas the biking destination it is today. We began our journey at the infamous Legacy Square in Ottawa.
Legacy Square in Ottawa, Kansas is more than a community gathering place, open-air market, and park. It’s also where the two longest rail trails in the state connect: The Prairie Spirit Trail and the Flint Hills Trail.
The Prairie Spirit Trail State Park spans 51 miles from Iola to Ottawa. The trail follows the original rail bed of the old Leavenworth, Lawrence & Fort Gibson Railroad that was built in the 1860s. The trail offers a multitude of experiences as you pass through diverse ecosystems like tallgrass prairie, riparian areas, agricultural tracts, and 10 rural communities. The Flint Hills Trail State Park is the seventh longest rail trail in the nation, at 117 miles from Herington to Osawatomie.
Flint Hills Trail State Park crosses the Flint Hills, one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. It is home to abundant prairie plants and wildlife species, spectacular views, national historic sites, and a diverse set of recreational areas. Both trails are open for biking, hiking, and horseback riding, as well as wheelchair accessible in many areas. White Motorized vehicles are prohibited in both parks.
Outdoor recreational opportunities are abundant in this part of the state. In addition to the 2 linear parks, there are several other trails, pocket parks, water activities, and places to get out and explore freely. If you are new to biking, want to give it a try as a family, or can’t travel with your gear, no worries, Ottawa Bike & Trail can get you set up with rentals ranging from standard, gravel, and even e-bikes.
If you’re looking for a packed itinerary, Ottawa has plenty of spots to make your trip full of adventure. Sip your way through town at Not Lost brewing Company and Buck-U Distillery while you shop the historic downtown district. See the oldest operating cinema in the world at Plaza 1907. While you’re there be sure to check out the Movie Memorabilia Museum which houses an impressive collection of movie props, costumes, scripts, posters, and signed photographs. If you happen to be in town on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, you can catch a Branson-style music show at The Grand Ottawa Opry. For more adventures and to check out lodging options, go to https://www.travelks.com/places-to-visit/cities/ottawa/.