The Flint Hills Nature Trail runs for 117 miles (east-west) across northeast Kansas, linking seven counties and dozens of towns between Osawatomie and Herington. As of 2011, the rail-trail was the 7th longest in the United States but many sections remain unimproved and rough going, making it difficult to attempt on a road bike but fine for mountain or hybrid and cyclocross bikes, and horses. Thus, some sections of trail are still under development. For specific details, see the latest trail condition report on the local website (under Related Links to the right). In addition, some sections of the trail have gates, which you can either go through or, in one case, climb over. Whenever you encounter a gate, please close it again behind you.
The trail traces a course through the Flint Hills, one of the last remaining tall-grass prairie ecosystems in the world. Along the trail you will encounter prairie flora and fauna, historic areas and unmatched views of the surrounding prairie and countryside. Wildlife includes bobwhite quail, wild turkeys, prairie chickens and bobcats.
From Herington at the western end through Allen and Admire, you encounter the tall-grass prairie; from the eastern end in Osawatomie, about 50 miles southwest of Kansas City, the Flint Hills Nature Trail is more wooded. For much of this stretch through Ottawa and on to Osage City, the trail follows the Marais des Cygnes River, with the water just north of the pathway and river bluffs to the south.
The trail is built upon an old railroad corridor, which was developed beginning in 1886the Council Grove, Osage City & Ottawa Railway (which serviced coal mining) and the Missouri Pacific. The route fell out of service in the 1980s. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy later acquired and railbanked the corridor in 1995 and then transferred it to Kanza Rail Trails Conservancy (KRTC) to develop. In 2001 the all-volunteer nonprofit KRTC begun trail construction.
As the overseeing body, KRTC divided the trail into geographic divisions, which manage the day-to-day operations and development of their local sections. As of 2010, 50 miles of the trail have been completed. KRTC hopes to have the trail fully smoothed-out with crushed stone in the next three to five years.
Parking and Trail Access
The Osawatomie Trailhead is located directly south of the Kansas City metropolitan area. To get there, follow John Brown Highway west through town. The trail begins at the western city limit along the south side of the road.
The Vassar Trailhead is located beside an old grain elevator (which is visible for several miles) near downtown Vassar. From US-75 Highway in Osage County, go east on K-68 Highway to K-268 Highway, then go north a couple miles to Vassar.
Parking areas are also found in Rantoul in Franklin County and in Admire in Lyon County. Parking is allowed at road crossings as long as cars don't block the public road or trail.
Additional parking and access points are described on the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy website
In response to jodilynnreeves, pursuant to promulgated KSA regulations an easement for the purposes of a rail trail, for example, is a nonpossessory interest in another's land that entitles the holder to the right to use such land in the specified manner. ...
Great Potential but...
I first tried riding from the Admire exit off I-35 and it was rough but nice scenery going East. Tried going west only to find a large closed (but not locked) cattle gate leading to open range, with lots of cattle. Next tried Herington but couldn't find ...
Rode from Bushong to Miller and back . The trail is mostly in good shape . There is alot of ballast on the trail for a couple of miles east of Miller and the whole thing could use a mowing . Railings are up on all bridges but one .We had a great ride ...