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Find the top rated birding trails in Emporia, whether you're looking for an easy short birding trail or a long birding trail, you'll find what you're looking for. Click on a birding trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
|Trail Image||Trail Name||States||Length||Surface||Rating|
In 2018, this 117-mile rail-trail across northeast Kansas officially became a state park. Formally known as the Flint Hills Nature Trail, the trail's new name is Flint Hills Trail State Park. It links...
|KS||117 mi||Ballast, Crushed Stone||
Lake Shawnee opened in 1939 as a project of the Works Progress Administration and has been providing the residents and visitors of Topeka with a host of recreational opportunities since that time. A...
Closure Notice: As of May 2021, a segment of the trail in southern Topeka between SW 33rd Street and SW 37th Street is closed due to replacement of an adjacent railroad bridge, with no official detour...
|KS||18.4 mi||Concrete, Crushed Stone||
Spanning 51 miles, the Prairie Spirit Trail State Park runs from Ottawa to Iola, offering plenty of recreation and enjoyment for birdwatchers, cyclists, walkers, joggers and anyone with a desire to...
|KS||51.3 mi||Asphalt, Crushed Stone||
Traversing the city of Topeka through a stream valley, the Shunga Trail provides an important connection between residents and community features such as parks, medical facilities, government...
South of 45th street is not paved so can be a challenge on a bike. Could use some trimming as some of the tree limbs were overgrown. Overall it was a fun ride and will ride again next time we are in town.
Cool trail that is flat, quiet and goes a long way. Often not a lot of people.
Our quest to ride in every state in America landed us in Vassar, Kansas, a one-horse town about 30 miles south of Topeka, at a trailhead for the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Thankfully, we’d read that it was near a grain silo, otherwise, we might have missed the small dirt clearing we used as a parking lot.
The seventh longest rail-trail in America, the Flint Hills Trail stretches 117 miles across eastern Kansas on what used to be the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Today, it is a crushed stone path with occasional pieces of shale and deeply rutted soft dirt. Riding was slow and bumpy the first several miles and we had to keep a tight grip on our handlebars. The trail was straight as an arrow and flat as a pancake, although the rolling Flint Hills surrounded us. We’d read that there were turkeys and bobcats in the area, the latter of which we may have seen earlier in the day when what we thought was a large, healthy fox darted across the highway. Actually, the only wildlife we encountered while biking were very loud flying insects that reminded us of the cicadas that plague the mid-Atlantic every 17 years.
The trail was lined with scrubby cedars and other trees that formed a narrow screen between us and the farmland on either side. These provided some shade on what otherwise would have been a scorching ride in the summer sun. About every mile, we passed through a gateway with a post on either side, that looked, from a distance, like approaching figures. In fact, we only passed one other bike and two pedestrians during our two-hour ride. The trail widened and improved after we passed through a gateway onto a very broad two-lane roadway with well-packed dirt and cinder.
Award-winning beers awaited us at a brewery outside of Topeka.
Asked Ottawa Bike Shop owner which direction to go on either trail. He suggested eastbound so thats where we headed. Only rode 5 miles before heading back to Ottawa. Great trail, a little wet but very pleased how our fat tire ebikes performed in these conditions, just perfect. This part of the trail almost all canopied, very nice. Definitely going to come back, go further.
We stopped off in Topeka while on our quest to ride ride our bikes in ten different states in sixteen days. Our hotel was right on the trail at Fairlawn, so we jumped on the trail shortly after dawn on a crisp fall morning in October for an out and back ride.
We absolutely loved the first half of the ride through the greenway and parks to Shunga Glen Park and its colorful Rip On skate park. It was serene, peaceful, heavily wooded, and the air was filled with the songs and calls of birds as we passed through parks, nature areas, and charming neighborhoods with more bushy tailed squirrels than I have ever seen before!
The trail is smooth, and the curvy twists and turns add to the enjoyment! It is certainly a trail to be taken slowly, not only to enjoy its beauty, but because of all the locals walking and jogging. They most definitely know what a treasure this first portion is!
Unfortunately, the trail continues beyond Shunga Glen Park. We forged on past Fillmore at 21st into a business area, crossed Landon Path circle interchange, and into a heavily wooded area which smelled of camp fire smoke. It was at that moment we realized we had not been seeing the walkers or joggers like we had before. Where had all the fine citizens of Topeka out for their morning exercise go? Homeless then began materializing out of the woods, loud arguing could be heard within the trees, articles of clothing and trash were strewn alongside the trail, and a camp full of garbage appeared. It was at that point we didn't feel safe, so we threw in the towel a couple miles from the endpoint and turned around to enjoy the first half a second time!.
It's one trail, but after Fillmore street it might as well be given different names such as:
Shunga Jekyll ~ Beautiful, serene, and a community treasure
Shunga Hyde ~ Scary, sketchy, and makes senior citizens feel unsafe
Started the trail at Riverside Park in Iola on the south end of the trail where the Southwind Railtrail begins. We rode north for a few miles. The trail surface was mostly paved while in town. At the edge of town the surface changes to the compacted finely crushed stone surface that isn’t much different than the paved surface. This is a wide surface with lots of room to ride two abreast. Nicely done trail. Time permitting worthy of further exploration. Noted all the trail are some mileage markers, in this section they are numbered in the low 100’s. Not sure the origin point in the north for the mileages.
Started the trail at Vasar and rode 11 miles west. The first seven miles were on mostly crushed stone that has been in use for many years. It was nice riding but did have some soft spots from recent rains. The final four miles were on a new trail surface of finely crushed stone, nearly like sand but well compacted making for a very smooth ride. Not exactly like a paved surface but close to it. This portion of trail had many trees along side and is mostly straight with some grade but very little. We enjoyed the ride through the countryside.
Very nice trail, nice variety of scenery. South of Ottawa is riding through farm fields so recommend skipping that section.
Took a break from crossing Kansas to ride a portion of Flint Hills trail. I road east for about 12 miles, then back. A good ride despite rather blustery weather on Apr. 21, 2021.
Section to Humboldt is completed with excellent trail side park constructed that has tiny housing, camping, indoor center for cyclists
I have ridden this entire trail all at once and many times in pieces. The trail west of Bushong may be some of the most beautiful scenery I've experienced on any trail, ever.
The only reason for the 4 stars and not 5 is that I think a few more amenities would be great. More water, maybe a small shelter or two like you find on the George Mickelson trail in SD or even the Chief Standing Bear Trail in NE. I suspect those will come.
Thank you to all the volunteers that keep this trail in such good repair in the variant Kansas climate. It's a great ride. Make sure, however, you have water, sunscreen and whatever you need because it can be desolate... which is the best part of the trail.
Just rode the entire trail with my daughter, Oct 16 and 17. We started in Council Grove and rode East. We were on hardtail mountain bikes.
From Council Grove to Osage City the trail is in absolutely perfect condition. It's wide, (10 -12 feet),smooth, hard and fast. Many times I thought I was riding on pavement. I even locked out my front fork because I didn't need it. All the bridges are new. Guys with road bikes, have fun you'll fly. Congratulation to the Parks Dept for all their work, this portion is as good as it could be.
Then you hit Osage city. Oh boy, time to unlock the fork. From there to Vasser it's pretty rough. You come to HW 31 on the East side of Osage City and your looking at a overgrown weed patch along the junkyard. The sign said it's the trail so we went. There is still a pretty good gravel base so just pick your line and go. Then heading east go through the parking lot at the grain elevator and the trail stops at 5th st. There is no signage. We just kept going straight because there were no " private property" signs. It's all grass no path. Then at 6th street you have to detour to the south on Lakin Street. Ride Lakin east and turn left at Sonic then North back to the trail. It's a very short detour, no big deal.
From here to Vasser, again it's hit and miss. Some sections are OK and others are pretty rough. We were lucky because it hadn't rained in a while and trail was bone dry. There are lots of sections that are just dirt that would very tough if it was muddy. There was one section just as you go over the bridge at HW 75 that was very fine deep loss dirt. It was dry and we still had to ride in the weeds on the shoulder where the ground was hard to get through. If that was muddy, forget about it.
From Vasser east the trail goes back to the " improved" condition.
We got off at HW 368 and went north and camped at Pomona State Park.
Very nice park with facilities. There is also a good restaurant on the left by the motel and golf course. Open all day.
Back on the trail in the morning and through the only tunnel on the trail under HW 268. Like I said from here on the trail is back to the " improved" condition. Not quite as nice as from Council Grove to Osage city but still very good. Just a few more bumps and chatter.
Lot of dead trees down but that was because of the bad wind storm we had the night before. We weren't in a big hurry so we just cleared them ourselves.
I did run into a parks truck doing maintenance and got a lot of good info.
That bad portion through Osage City is waiting on some bonds for funding and that eventually the trail is going to have bathroom facilities, water and mile markers just like the Katy. They already have mile markers from Ottawa to Osawatomie.
Anyway heading east we ran into a big detour at Iowa rd. The trail is closed there or should I say non existent. You have to take the detour which is well marked and takes you out on the country gravel roads. The roads aren't bad. It's not the " big" gravel you think of when you hear " gravel road" but fine crushed gravel very similar to what's on the trail. The detour is about 3.5 miles and you get back on the trail at Louisiana Ter. At this point your about a mile West of Ottawa.
From Ottawa to Osawatomie the trail is in great shape but some of the bridges haven't been replace or updated yet. There are about four or five with no railings. Most aren't very high but one is about 30'. I just mention this in case someone is taking some young kids. On that big one I don't know why they couldn't a least put in a couple posts and at least string some cables just so there is some protection.
The trail now does go all the way to the Karl E Cole baseball complexe and ends there in nice big parking lot.
I hope this update was useful. Reading older posts when I was researching this trip I was expecting the worse but i can tell you that we had a great time and the trail is in great shape with that one section and detour as the exceptions.
Carl Spahn with daughter Madison
Kansas City, Mo.
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