Exploring some of Kansas' less-traveled hiking trails
For years, I have enjoyed hiking the Kansas outdoors. After being asked to create a selection of some of the state’s lesser-known hiking trail gems, I set off on a thousand-mile journey of love, exploring and revisiting paths across Kansas. Often, I would drive or detour for a good part of the day, enjoy the trail, and then perch near sunset at the Kansas treasure I had newly discovered or was appreciating once more. For me, these memories and views were gifts more striking than words or photos can convey. The timeless scenery was a humble reminder that my visitation was only surface-level, brushing across decades and centuries of human footprints and stories before me, and these nestled on the longer geological imprint of time. I wish you the same experience, and here are my suggestions for five less-visited trails that may give you a similar experience.
Sand Hills Loop Trail
The Sand Hills Loop Trail is one of five trails in the Sand Hills State Park. Thick, roving marshland grass and sloping hills showcase native Kansas wildflowers, expansive skies, and trees. The soft path is excellent for all skill levels of runners, hikers, or nature seekers. The trail is maintained but not well-marked, so review maps before hiking. Because of the marsh characteristics, consider using the trails April through October.
How to access
State Park permit required, but there is ample trailhead parking from the main entrance off N K-61 Highway north of Hutchinson.
Location: Near Hutchinson, Reno County
Trail distance: 7.7-mile loop-style
Rating: Easy to moderate
Surrounding Attractions: Coronado Heights Park Trail | Dillon Nature Trails
Hunting By limited permit
Camping: Yes, at Sand Hills State Park
Coyote Trail at Webster State Park
Coyote Trail offers diverse terrain and scenery in a small series of loops and crossover trails. The trails take hikers by a lake, limestone cliffs, and near an eagle nesting area. Most portions of the trail are well-marked, and the trail loops all the way around the lake, making it easy to keep your starting point in view.
How to Access
State Park permit or access fee is required, but plenty of trailhead parking is available.
Location: Webster State Park, Rooks County
Trail distance: 2.9-mile loop-style
Rating: Easy to moderate
Terrain: Mowed grassland
Surrounding Attractions: Nicodemus National Historic Site
Lemon Park Nature Trails
Lemon Park Nature Trails provides a scenic walking tour along the Ninnescah River. Featured inside this family-friendly venue are both paved and natural trails with plenty of opportunities to see wildlife, native plants, and waterfalls. Popular with hikers and runners, the park provides plenty of shade and windbreaks.
How to Access
Free parking throughout the park
Location: Pratt, Pratt County
Trail distance: 1.4-mile loop-style
Terrain: Paved and natural
Nearby Attraction: The Big Wheel in Greensburg
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Hidden Hiking Gems: Big Basin Prairie Preserve
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