Seeking an inexpensive outdoor adventure for the whole family?
Look no further than an exciting trail experience in southeast Kansas. The Flint Hills Trail State Park navigates travelers over a timeworn railroad bed, covering lands traversed by Native Americans, pioneers and Civil War soldiers. Plentiful fresh air is afforded even on a short hike.
The Flint Hills Trail State Park was originally developed as a regional Kansas railroad route and eventually became part of the Missouri Pacific line. Service on the line was discontinued in the 1980s, and in 1995 the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy bought the corridor and deeded it to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy. Since then, energized volunteers have been improving new sections for use while maintaining popular stretches for public recreation.
This trail spans almost 120 miles, making it one of the longest in the country. Reaching from Herington in the west, to easternmost Miami County, the trail intersects various landscapes, especially Kansas’ own irreplaceable Flint Hills. Near Osawatomie, the trail meanders alongside the Marais des Cygnes River, offering cool shade in the adjacent forested stream banks.
From sunrise to sundown, the trail is open to hikers, bikers and equestrians, but not motorized vehicles. Leashed pets are welcome, too, as long as owners pick up after them. No hunting or camping opportunities are offered, but wildlife viewing abounds and the scenery is spectacular. There are about 15 trailheads, some with convenient parking and nearby access to lodging, food and other services.
Day hikers should carry water and snacks. For trekkers wayfaring multiple miles, appropriate footwear is recommended. Bikers would be wise to pack necessary supplies to fix a flat as the trail is mostly gravel. Cyclists should practice common trail etiquette and yield to horses and pedestrians. Users should have a cell phone for emergencies as some stretches cross primitive expanses. Always let someone know your proposed start and end points and estimated times of arrival at those points.
FLINT HILLS TRAIL
- Osawatomie to Council Grove (from Council Grove to Herrington is in development)
- 117 miles
- Open sunrise to sunset 365 days per year
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