Flint Hills Trail State Park


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Flint Hills Trail State Park Facts

States: Kansas
Counties: Franklin, Lyon, Miami, Morris, Osage
Length: 118 miles
Trail end points: S 5th St. (Herington) and 1400 South St (Osawatomie)
Trail surfaces: Ballast, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6376093

Flint Hills Trail State Park Description

Closure Notice: Between MM 51.8 and MM 52.8 in Osage, the trail is on detour along Larkin St. Please see Kanza Trails for more updated information.


In 2018, this 118-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 five counties and more than a dozen towns between Osawatomie and Herington. It's the longest rail trail in Kansas and one of the longest rail trails in the United States. 

About the Route

The trail is traversable with a crushed-limestone surface for 96 miles, from Osawatomie to Council Grove. The majority of the pedestrian bridges along the trail are concrete covered in limestone for a smooth transition on and off the bridges. Trail users can enjoy walking, riding with a mountain or hybrid bike, and horseback riding on the trail.

The western tip of the trail, which extends westward 21 miles between Council Grove and Herington, remains rough railroad ballast that will be developed in the future. Note that some sections of the trail have gates, which trail users can either go through or, in one case, climb over. Trail users are advised to close any gates they may open along their journey.

The trail traces a course through the Flint Hills, one of the last remaining tall-grass prairie ecosystems in the world. Along the route, trail users 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, trail users will encounter the tall-grass prairie; heading towards the eastern end in Osawatomie, the Flint Hills 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 waterway just north of the pathway and river bluffs to the south.

Note that there are no public restrooms or drinking fountains provided along the trail. However, restrooms at Pomona, Miller, Admire, and Bushong trailheads are in the process of being installed. In addition, towns are spaced roughly 10–15 miles apart along the route for pit stops and refreshments. There are also numerous campgrounds located along the trail, including the Osawatomie City Lake Campground and Pomona Lake State Park. 


In Ottawa, the Flint Hills Trail connects to the Prairie Spirit Trail State Park.

Trail History

The Flint Hills Trail is built upon an old railroad corridor, which was developed beginning in 1886—the 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 a predecessor of the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy to develop. Construction, orchestrated by an all-volunteer crew, began in 2001.

Parking and Trail Access

The Flint Hills Trail runs between S 5th St. (Herington) and 1400 South St (Osawatomie) with parking at the eastern end.

Parking is also available at:

  • Orlis Cox Sports Complex, 901 W 2nd St (Ottawa)
  • 3012 Colorado Rd (Ponoma)
  • Ponoma State Park, 22900 KS-368 (Vassar)

See TrailLink map for all parking options and detailed directions.

Flint Hills Trail State Park Reviews

Ottawa to Osawatami n back¿

Today From HIE-Ottawa I rode The Prairie Spirit Tr to intersection with Flint Hills Nature Tr. Headed west at MM22 I encountered a detour that I did not want to deal with, so I set my sights on going about 22 miles east to MM0 at Osawatami¿. Trail was 1/2 very good condition n 1/2 was bigger gravel¿. The scenery was Beautiful Big AG to my liking. I met up with a red fox, a brown snake, and a big brown hawk!

fun ride on E bike’s

April 2022 We rode east from Council Grove Ks for about 5 miles of the trail out to the Kaw monument. We have knobby cross over tires on our Pedego’s which handled the gravel just fine. We stayed at the COE campground just north of town and rode the bikes into town and on the try and back. It looks like it would also be fun to ride around town as well as the trail but rainy cold weather limited our riding during our stay in the area. Hoping to go back and ride more of the trail and around council grove.

This trail now officially/unofficially starts in Osawatomee or mile zero at the corner of 12th and South Street.

This trail now officially/unofficially starts in Osawatomee or mile zero at the corner of 12th and South Street.

My wife dropped me off at mile zero trailhead in Osawatomee and I met her at the depot museum in Ottawa. We then rode to Pamona. Nice ride but a section is closed between Ottawa and Pamona and you must take gravel rodes for a short 3 miles or so.

My wife dropped me off at mile zero trailhead in Osawatomee and I met her at the depot museum in Ottawa. We then rode to Pamona. Nice ride but a section is closed between Ottawa and Pamona and you must take gravel rodes for a short 3 miles or so.


Beautiful trail--needs a bit of upkeep

We rode 2 sections of this trail in mid-late Sept 2022. 1st section--from Council Grove towards Admire and return. It was an extremely hot day (over 100) and we only rode 12-13 miles out and back for a 25 mile ride. Beautifully kept trail. No goat heads and no other cyclists. Gentle incline out with periodic shade and beautiful rolling hills scenery. The worst part is it is so dry that in the center of the trail can be LARGE cracks in the limestone base (up to 3-6" wide and maybe 2-3' in length) and if you're not paying attention, you could take a major tumble. You have to pay attention at all times as the cracks are here and there.

Council Grove has lodging (limited) and grocery for snacks and cold drinks. We were going to stay in CG, but opted to drive to Pomona St Park and stay there for the next section.

2nd section was from Vassar to Ottawa return (around 50 miles). We stayed in the Pomona St Park (~1 mile from trail head) and again, the trail was fabulous. No other cyclists, beautiful country, some riding next to active train tracks, some out in the rolling fields, shade on and off. One 2-lane highway crossing, you MUST watch for cars as they are going 65+. There is a crosswalk where you can push the button and it signals drivers of cyclists crossing, but they will not stop, I'm pretty sure...it's just an alert. Cyclists must stop and heed traffic.

There were a few downed trees in this section blocking the trail, one we could just get around by walking, the 2nd we had to carry our bikes over as the branches were too big for us to move. They need some chain saw volunteers to come in and clean up some of the downed trees. The 3rd, we moved some of the smaller branches out of the way, to clear a path wide enough to pass, but again, a chain saw is badly needed along this section.

Ottawa is a cute town with lodging, food, drink and lots of other trails around town and the Flint Hills connects to the Prairie Spirit running north and south (we did 1 section of this trail also, will leave review under that trails reviews).

There was 2-3 mile stretch just west of Ottawa that the trail is closed and looked to us like it had been for a long time due to the overgrowth. There is a detour, VERY WELL MARKED and is such a short section that it's easy to get back on track. Again watch for the cracks in the trail base, but other than that, a beautiful trail. We'd like to return and do the entire trail from Council Grove to Osawatomie.

great ride

We have ridden this several times over the years. They definitely maintain it better. Today we road Osawatie? To Ottawa. We did 40 miles out and back. Rantoul had no amenities.

Backpacking the Flint Hills

This is a fun trail to hike. The Flint Hills are beautiful. Prairie wild flowers were in full bloom. Great communities all along the trail.

Enjoy the Flint Hills Trail and some wind...

One item of note that is not widely advertised especially for out of state riders is that the section of the Flint Hill Trails from the Western Terminus in Herrington to Council Grove {~25 miles} is closed and has been for a while. We arrived to start our Flint Hills adventure to find that section of the Trail in disrepair due to the lack of maintenance as there was 12” to 18” high grass and vegetation to include 5’ tall saplings. There are two more closures experienced on the trail – in Osage City, the trail abruptly ends without any detour signs and recommend just ride on the streets until you are out of the city limits and then rejoin the trail. Finally, the trail is closed headed East from Ottawa about a mile after going under I-35 but there is a marked detour that puts you on gravel roads and gets you back on the trail rapidly but beware of an aggressive dog of a pit bull mix.

We relocated to Council Grove in order to start our journey to the Western Terminus at Osawatomie. Overall, the trail was in great condition and was pleasantly amazed that a majority of the bridges on the trail were recently replaced. Another feature I have never seen before was that that the concrete surfaced bridges were covered in limestone which made for a smooth transition on and off the bridges.

There was tree canopy on some of the trail and a majority was tree lined to aid in blocking the Kansas winds as we experienced a steady 25 MPH gusting to 40 MPH crosswind on both days.

They are adding new restrooms at a majority of the trailheads and they looked to be 90% construction complete.

Finally, beware of branches that are actually snakes (Water Moccasins) and these were experienced between Ottawa and Osawatomie due to all the water features on both sides of the trail.

A ride through America's heartland

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.

First fat tire ebike ride

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.

Small Portion Ridden

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.

ride from Council Grove

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.

Love This Trail

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.

Trail condition update Oct 18 2020

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.

phenomenal trail

Rode the trail starting in Osawatamie. Trail was in great shape, though some parts had a lot of leaf coverage. Despite this, no issues with surfaces or slippage. Such a peaceful trail to ride. And it flows super fast.

Osage city, Kansas to Council Grove

40 miles of outstanding trail. Rapid improvement of Flint Hills nature trail due to its designation as a state park. From Osage city to Allen the trail is 20 feet wide of crushed lime stone. From Allen to Council Grove 15 feet wide crushed lime stone with rock formations and fossils on both sides. Bathrooms,food, and water in Osage city, Allen, and Council Grove. Camping available in multiple sites along the way.

Flint Hills Trail - Osawatomie to Ottawa - EXCELLENT!

Today we rode the Flint Hills Trail from Osawatomie to Ottawa and back. We had a great time and this trail is highly recommended! The trail is a "Rails to Trails" route that follows the Marais des Cygnes river, so it is predominately flat. The gravel surface is packed very light chip, so almost any type of bike will work (we rode gravel bikes). In a few places, the recent heavy rains washed away the light chip top coat and exposed the more coarse RR bed gravel below, but it is not a problem. We did not see any of the thorns etc. mentioned above in posts from previous years. The trail head is a little hard to find, and Google maps did not help. If you find the Osawatomie elementary school and then proceed down that same road about 3/4 mile further, the trail head (with some parking) is on your right. Leaving on the trail from Osawatomie, the first 6 miles are completely shaded by trees arching over the trail. After that the trail is about 1/2 shaded and 1/2 open meadows - so this is a great trail for warm summer days (and should be beautiful in the fall). There are many bridges, views of the river and wide open farmland to see along the way. Today, at 9 miles in, there was about 200 yd where water covered the trail from the big overnight thunderstorms, but this is not normal. There are no drinking water stops along the way - so bring at least 2 good sized bottles per person. There are however farm houses all along, so if you really needed help in an emergency, it is not far away. Ottawa is about 18 miles from Osawatomie and you will know that you are close when you pass under the I-35 bridge (about 2 miles to go). If you want lunch, turn left off the trail at 7th street (it is well marked), go ~1 mile south on 7th and you will hit Main street. Subway is 2 blocks to your left (9th street) on Main, or you can go to downtown and have a variety of food choices. We had a really nice ride today and hope that you can ride this trail soon too!

Flint Hills Nature Trail - April 2017

This is a lovely trail. I camped at Vassar Lake for a few nights and rode sections out and back each day between Council Grove and Osawatomie. Trail conditions were great for a gravel, mountain or touring bike. There are a few rough bridges, and a few patches of ballast or deep sand, but nothing that will ruin your day. My first morning I followed a coyote following a turkey for the better part of a mile. In Ottawa you can also connect to the Prairie Spirit trail, which is also nice.

No trail-centric services, great folks (though)

This trail is not ready for prime-time.
Unlike the R-Ts that I've done (GAP, Katy, Mickelson), there are no dedicated services such as water (cisterns or pumps), bathrooms or portapotties, no mileage signage, not even signs identifying towns at crossroads. Essentially NO SERVICES. I did count four (I think) benches on the 103 miles we rode. Though I have been told this will change quickly since the State has recently taken over the trail, about a quarter of it is virtually impassable due to inappropriate maintenance, if any. That's from about five miles east of Council Grove on and off to Osage City. 2-4 inch ballast rocks are dumped on the trail without grading or filling, no gravel for miles (just dirt jeep trail), no side rails on unimproved bridges (dangerous), grading done in wet weather where the grader tread tracks have become miles of almost-highway rumble strips and, finally, trash heaps along side the trail.. A terrible riding experience. Add to that an approximate three mile detour just west of Ottawa on yucky gravel county roads (not marked on any - including TrailNet - maps, but clearly a long-term function of the trail).
Now, from Osage City east to Osawatomie is from passable to good enough, mostly on the positive side of that spectrum.
BUT, the people we met were all wonderful, great experiences at every interaction. The Cottage House in Council Grove and the Koch Guesthouse (AirBnB) in Osage City were delightful, and Jeff and Yon at the Ottawa Bike Shop were outstandingly - I mean really - helpful.
If you want to do the Flint Hills R-T, do the eastern half or wait till the state at least fixes the surface on the western side. Otherwise, it can be a miserable experience. Either way, once the trail is fixed, it's still a long way from the standards set by the nearby Katy.
Ron Gossen

beautiful, isolated trail with rough terrain.

I began running along this trail on Friday afternoon on 4/12/2019. The weather was about 52°, sunny, and a bit windy. I found the trail to be difficult to run along. The trail is gravel, but not maintained very well. There was a steady undergrowth about 8” high that blanketed the trail. I found myself dodging bushes and dead, fallen trees lying across the path. In the two miles i ran, there were about three gates. After the fourth, i met a herd of cattle, and that’s when I turned back. Otherwise, the trail is very peaceful. I recommend it for walking or mountain biking. If tou do bike it, be sure to bring an extra tire!

Council Grove to Bushong

Rode on an unseasonably cool and overcast July day. Trail is in excellent condition. We rode our street bikes. This section is doable for the casual rider and for families. Take water, there are no services. Beautiful ride through the flint hills. Bushong is the high point in this section.

Ottawa to Vassar and back.

Great ride on a super nice spring day. The trails were in very good condition. The only problem that we encountered was the 2 mile (2.5 mile?) detour that is west of Ottawa. It is on gravel roads, which is no problem for gravel riders. There are also a lot of dogs, most are of no consequence... but be on the lookout for an Ill-tempered pit bull on the west end of the detour. The owner was there and able to contain him so we could pass. This is the only reason I couldn’t give our experience 5 stars. Next

Council Grove out and back

Did a 25 mile out and back east of Council Grove. Overall good condition with a little loose stone. Quiet ride with beautiful views of the working and natural landscape.


I regularly do 40-50 on this trail. The best part is from Admire to Council Grove, both in terms of scenery and trail conditions. East of Admire has a lot of ballast that will slow you down. If you like solitude and scenery, it's the best trail in KS. If you like amenities, not so much. As for thorns, I use tire liners and have never had a single flat.

Bikepacking from Council Grove to Vassar State Park

My son and I did an overnight leaving from Council Grove, camping at Vassar State Park and back to CG the next day. We had excellent weather and plenty of time to accomplish the 50+ miles in each direction. My bike handled the rough terrain well but my son's tires did not like the many thorns. We exhausted his extra tire and my 6 pack of patches. We even broke into my air mattress repair kit. Either go tubeless or make sure your tires can take a beating. Some very rough patches and THORNS! That aside - beautiful landscape and scenery! Say "hi" to the cows! Also, Vassar State Park is a beautiful camping area. Friendly people, too. Also, stop off in Allen and talk to Paul who runs the auto shop - super friendly and will sell you a coke for 50 cents. You can fill up on his free water, too. Stay a spell and let him tell you about his town. You won't be sorry.

Not bad

I ran a short out and back--getting on the trail near 7th and Lincoln in Ottawa. It was a bit muddy in a few places, but otherwise not too bad. They had just replaced one of the bridges and looked like they were going to add side rails. I crossed two other bridges with no sides. The portion I was on looked like it might have some shade in the summer.

Bikepacking east from Admire to Pomona Lake & back

My wife and I did a S24O (sub-24-hour-overnighter) from Admire to Pomona Lake and back (~30 miles one-way - 60 miles round-trip) over Columbus Day weekend 2016. We stayed at Vassar State Park which has a nice shower house with running water, plumbing, electricity, and a laundromat. It is also right on the lake. Osage City is a nice midpoint stop over with a nearby Casey's and Sonic just a block or two off of the trail.

I would recommend diverting to the south of the trail a block or two in Osage City due to the active railroad, an unmaintained bridge, and an apparent private property dispute/temper-tantrum. The active railroad is the only signed feature, and that's with a do-not-pass barricade and sign. The railroad that crosses the trail is NOT at-grade, and will require an exceptionally expertly-timed bunny hop in loose ballast or a dismount and lift.

I rode a Surly Big Dummy with 26"x2.15+" width tires and my wife rode a Salsa Vaya with 700x40mm tires. We both had flats, although mine may have been due to an improperly tightened valve stem. Hers may have been a pinch flat, as there was no evident thorn or debris nearby or caught in the tire.

This segment of the trail (Admire to Pomona Lake) looks to have had limestone screenings laid down at some point in the past, but does not experience enough travel to keep the grass down. The trail is bumpy and muddy with loose ballast, pot holes, and washouts in sections. There are a few low-hanging branches to dodge, also.

All this being said, my wife and I rode the trail with one longtail bike plus rider plus camping equipment probably verging on 280-300 lbs mark, while my wife was on somewhat narrow 40mm wide tires with her camping gear, and we only had to dismount once due to a broad and deep mud hole.

If you're used to riding perfectly groomed limestone trails, or asphalt and concrete and don't know how to change a flat and aren't used to riding 10-15 miles on gravel and/or minimum maintenance roads, and can't carry more than a couple of water bottles, this portion may not be for you.

If you regularly mountain bike or ride gravel, and know how to change a tube, and are prepared to NOT have water spigots every 2-5 miles, this is a fun segment, particularly for a quick bikepacking overnighter. . .

Pomona Lake's Vassar State Park is close to the trail and has a laundromat and showerhouse with plumbing and electricity and a motel and restaurant nearby.

Osage City is right on the trail with a Casey's and Sonic in plain view at one intersection.

Run tubeless or with tire liners. Have a hand tire pump handy.

Pack extra water. . .Osage City (~15 miles) is the first place with clean water access between Admire and Pomona Lake that would appear to be readily and regularly handy unless you want to knock on doors.

Fantastic biking trail!

Spent several days doing different portions of this trail while camping at Council Grove in June. Rode East of Council Grove to Bushong and back (30 miles round trip) one day. Then another day started at Osage City and rode west to Allen and then back to Osage City (40 miles round trip), and then east past Lake Pomona and back to Osage City (30 miles round trip). Lots of biking hours in solitude and fantastic scenery of the Flint Hills. Lots of tree canopy covering the trail in some places. It is pretty flat so biking is pretty easy. The biggest issue is that you need to be self supported since there are almost no services for many miles. You certainly shouldn't try this without very good puncture resistant tires. I use Stan's Notubes and Specialized Armadillo tires and sure encountered some thorns but this was no problem with self-sealing tires. I covered over 100 miles with no delays due to flats. Lots of wildlife, and saw no other bikers on the trail on any day. Some parts are a bit rough, so a Hybrid or mountain bike (my preference) is best. Sure don't try it on a road bike. If you want a smoother trail with lots of services, then the Katy Trail in Missouri is a nice option.

East from Council Grove

We did 25 mile round trip with cyclocross bikes. Loved it! The first couple of miles weren't that interesting, but after that the prairie and woods were beautiful. We would much prefer this kind of trail than going through farmland.

West of Bushlong

Took the trail head from Bushlong to Council Grove and back .The trail was well maintained, clean and very few travels.

Good for mountain biking

Rode the trail today (8/23/2015) from Lake Pomona to Osage City. The trail would be very good for mountain biking. My hybrid/fitness bike (Trek 7.2FX with 700x35 tires) did the job, but the trail is rough in a few spots. I read the stories about getting flats on this trail, so I came prepared. I only got 1 flat, from a thorn. Only saw 1 other person on the trail today, a runner. This trail could be really great with a little bit of grooming. Encountered quite a few spider webs, and many grasshoppers. Also saw a coyote which was cool.

great trail not for faint of heart or equipment.

Great location and views! The trail is poorly maintained. We have had flats every time we have rode it. We camped at Pomona lake. Rode the eastern end of

Vassar to US 75

Walked the trail from Vassar to US 75 and back. The trees across the trail that I saw complaints about are removed. No trash, fairly clean. In the 1/2 mile from Adams to US 75, the trail is kind of rough and eroded but the rest of it was okay. We were walking so didn't suffer a flat tire. The trail could use an occasional trash can. The bridge over US 75 is good.

Lyndon -vassar

I love to ride on the trails. Unfortunately I don't because the up keep is horrible. I stopped twice between Lyndon and vassar to remove the trees that were across the trail. If your go near the bridge over 75 hwy. you will have flat tires in less than a mile. If you want the adventure of ducking under limbs and getting off to remove trees this trail is not for you. And you better be sure your tire repair skills are up to date

flat tire

This trail is a guaranteed flat tire. Thorns is the trail surface from Lyndon east 1 mile

Broken glass on 7th street trailhead!

I walked the 7th street trailhead and I've noticed a lot of broken glass and trash starting to collect on the ground.
Please, if you bring it in, take it out!


We have ride from Osawatomie to Ottawa several times. Finding trailhead can be challenging but the ride is very nice. From reading other reviews and scouting the trail. Road riding to vasser seamed best. We got on trail at vasser (this was fall. We rode about 3 miles. We heard something looked down and all 4 of our tires had hundreds of goat head thorns. We turned tail and ride back to car and dang near made it before we were on our rims!! We plan on trying agai this spring and riding it in its entirety ¿¿

Vassar>Hwy 75/Vassar>Hwy68

We started this trail at Vassar and headed west. The trail was quiet but rough. We were able to handle the trail with road bikes until we hit a section of trail right before Hwy 75. We encountered a patch of stickers which flattened the two tires on my husbands bike. We fixed the tires with spares and carried the bike back to the section before the stickers. The previous reviews mentioned that you need to use mountain bikes for this trail and we would recommend it. We decided to take the trail east from Vassar to Ottawa but only got as far as Hwy 68 before we had another flat. We patched this flat but because we were getting low on supplies we turned around. This section was also quiet and beautiful with the tree canopy. We did see quite a bit of trail erosion in this section of trail. We saw monarch butterflies, wild turkeys, quail, and lots of grasshoppers!

Ottawa > Osawatomie: Beautiful trail, but not without a few issues.

First of all, for anyone belaboring the point, a trailhead is defined as "somewhere a trail either begins or ends." There are trailheads on this trail. Promise.

That said,

This trail is ridable in several segments; here, I'm reviewing the segment from Ottawa to Osawatomie:

Starting in Ottawa, just take 7th street east out of town. It will eventually turn to gravel and pretty much right after Mason Street, you will see where the trail picks up. Head south. This trail runs for ~17 miles and then ends at John Brown Highway. There are no services on this trail at all, but if you turn left (East) onto John Brown Highway, it's only 1 or 2 miles before you get into town and can grab something to eat and drink.

The trail itself isn't as wide, consistent or smooth as the Prairie Spirit Trail, BUT it's gorgeous and instead of trees or pastures (not to take away from the PSRT, but it does get a bit repetitive), it runs along the Marais Des Cygne river and has some nice scenery and features a really cool old iron bridge. Since the trail is narrower and more "nauture-y", this also allows for tighter tree canopy (and some of the thickest I've ridden in) --and consequently, more shade on hot days. This trail is awesome and a real treat for anyone looking for an alternative to the PSRT. I dare even say this trail is prettier. I regularly both run this on foot and ride this trail on my hybrid bike and it's totally fine for both. I don't think road bikes would do well here, but anything else probably will.

The downsides to this trail are few and far-between, but include:

1) There are very occasional thorny twigs from time to time and I have had to change tires here in the past. --Not often, but it is a nature trail and things do happen. And remember, there are no services for about 9 miles either way if you get halfway out. That's a long walk. Know how to fix a flat and have equipment to do so.

2) Horses use this trail. That means both horse poo (not a lot, but be aware) and that you may encounter a person mounted on a horse from time to time. If you have no experience around horses: Do not speed toward them on your bike. Get off your bike and allow them to pass you. Talking to the horse or rider as they approach helps calm them. Also? Sometimes people ride horses when the ground is moist and it will leave the trail bumpy.

3) Sometimes people walk their dogs out here and don't have them leashed or under control. I've seen everything from Cocker Spaniels to German Shepherds. Carry animal mace, especially if you are running. I've never *had* to use mine, but I sure like knowing I have it if I need it.

4) I fairly regularly encounter vehicles (!) on this trail. I even got a picture on one, including its license plate and reported it to the Franklin County Sheriff's Dept., who promptly did absolutely nothing about it. Keep your eyes peeled and if you ride (or run) with headphones, you might leave one out.

I know this seems like a lot of negatives, but don't let it scare you off of this trail: the beauty and fun this trail offers overwhelmingly outweighs any drawbacks, and as long as you are alert (and have a spare tube), you should be fine. It really is a fantastic trail!

Quiet trail

We rode the Flint Hills Nature Trail from Council Grove to Bushong (June 21). There were lots of wildflowers along the trail. We saw six other cyclists. One looked like he had been riding many days. We saw deer, coyote, rabbits, squirrels, dragon flies, butterflies, and turtles. The wheat fields looked like they were almost ready to be cut. There were two trees that had been blown down and were blocking the trail so we moved them to the side. Does not look like there is much maintenance done to the trail because in one short section the trees had grown so much along the trail there was only a narrow path leaving a couple of feet wide to pass. Another small section was sandy and a little more challenging to ride on. At some point the cattle in an adjacent field must of gotten out or maybe the rancher uses the trail to move the cattle from one pasture to another pasture because there were cow patties on the trail. Luckily they had been there a while and were dried enough to ride over. It was so nice to have such a quiet ride in the Flint Hills and the temperatures and wind were perfect. This trail has been awarded a KDWPT grant and also a KDOT grant recently so we look forward to having the trail completed possibly in 2015?

Flint Hills Trail

We rode this trail from Ottawa heading toward Ossawatamie on our hybrid bikes. One person in our group had a road bike which was not a good idea. This trail is very rugged with several larger rocks that made it hard to maneuver. Some sections of the Is that ok. I don't want to do anything wrong. You don't have to pay for it do you. your tires kind of sink into the silt. We only wrote about 15 miles and then turned around and went back The scenery wasn't terribly scenic But the horseback riders we encountered were very pleasant and friendly although there were horse droppings throughout the trail. I think next time we will try to Prairie Spirit Trail.

Harrington start going east-bound (run)

Starting in Harrington going east I did an out and back 10 mile run. I definitely wouldn't recommend this part of the trail for runners as the trail is under-developed and in rough condition. The trail has pretty large rocks left from the railroad and a section of the trail about 2.5 miles in is private property.

A great trail but not without some challenges

We have biked on the Flint Hills Nature Trail from Council Grove to Ottawa, Kansas with the next ride planned to the terminus at Osawatomie. The area east of Council Grove is the most scenic (sweeping vistas of the flint hills where you can see for miles) and has the best trail condition. One word of caution though. It seems like the further you travel east, the rougher the trail gets. From the town of Pomona headed east, the condition of the trail gets worse due to deep rocks/gravel, little changed from the old railroad bed. We finally detoured off the trail and took a county road into Ottawa for the last three miles. Also, someone cut down a number of small trees for almost 1/4 mile and allowed them to fall straight across the trail. The only way you can get by these trees and brush is to carry your bike through them. Pretty tough going!

First stretch

Took our first walk on the FHT this morning. Late July and morning temps below 70! Started SE of Rantoul and did a couple miles along the Marais des Cygne river. We parked at a spot where the trail crosses Virginia Road. It isn't marked as a trail head but there is room for a vehicle or two.

The trail is in great shape here. Lots of tree canopy. Nice bridge about a mile SE of Virginia Road. Just past the bridge, on the north side, is a "path" down to the river. It is too steep for a bike and I don't think a rider would want to do it on horseback. But it is worth walking down as there is a nice set of riffles in the river here. You can hear the water from the trail.

We met three horse riders and a few bike riders. Otherwise, it was very peaceful and the solitude was remarkable. We highly recommend this strech.

directions to the Oswatomie trailhead

Trail head does not exist, but I found two places to park where you can access the trail. Go down main street, past the John Brown Museum until you get to 12th street.Turn right on 12th street, go a few blocks and 12th street makes a sharp turn to the left. 12th street turns into Parker Avenue at this turn. It passes right in front of the high school. Outside of town the road becomes John Brown Road. From the high school, go exactly 1.4 miles. The first parking area is on the left side. It is unmarked and there are no landmarks to tell you where to turn. The trail is just a short distance from this parking area. The second parking area is approximately 2.0 miles on the right side of John Brown Highway. There are oil tanks here and a small parking area. Trail can be seen from this parking area. Hope this makes this great trail easier to find.

Trail starting at 1st Street in Ottawa

A couple of the websites say this trail is unimproved, but ride-able with a mountain bike and there are sections that are not. Starting immediately after the large bridge over the river after traveling west from 1st street in Ottawa, it is nothing but ballast for half mile. Then the forest cuts through the trail, making it impossible to get through, even walking your bike.We had to turn back at this point, so I don't know what it's like on the other side. I have read that they are trying to finish this trail.

We've also taken the trail from Ottawa, starting on 7th street towards Osawatomie and for the 10 miles we rode, it was rugged, but a nice trail.

Osawatomie Trailhead

Directions were incomplete and inaccurate. The trailhead (no signs on John Brown highway) is west of town on the right, just after some oil well tanks. The description I read said to continue west and turn right on next road and go 1/4 mile north. No trailhead, just the trail crossing the road. The east Ottawa trailhead (trail stops there and does not continue through town) is non-existant and at the end of a street. No signage. I was so disappointed in this section, I decided to ride the Prairie Spirit Trail instead from Ottawa.


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. Thus, a farmer cannot block access to this easement if access used for is for it's intended purpose, that is to say recreational uses such as biking, hiking, horse backing, etc. When the perpetual easement was established and transferred, it was done without regard to the extraneous issues you mentioned (i.e. Santa Fe trail, bike trails are on private land, misspelling a city's name). Thus, access is permanently granted irrespective of the issues you put forth as the basis for your response.

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 a trail head. Asked someone in a business right next to the trail and they didn't even know the trail was there! Went east a couple of miles on the highway and picked up the trail but found it too overgrown and blocked to use. Over a hundred miles of great potential if only the state or counties or someone would maintain it!

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 and no flats .

Thorny situation

Once we got on the trail it was awesome. Went from Council Grove to Bushong and back. Trail was in decent shape. Couple of bridges with no rails yet. The scenery more than made up for these inconveniences. Had a hard time finding the trail head in Council Grove. It is about 3 blocks south of main on 5th street. There is a parking lot at the trail head. The parking lot is full of stickers/sandburrs. Luckily we noticed them before we got on our bikes. We probably picked off about 50 before our ride. Made the whole trip without a flat. Suggest carrying your bike across the parking lot. Bushong was a cool little town. Worth the visit. Can see some Santa Fe Trail swales from the trail.

Ottawa to Osawatomie

Just started back riding again this year after finding the rail trails. This section was perfect for an early morning ride in June, almost all shade till around 9:00. Did not see a soul on the trail for the whole 4 1/2 hours which is kind of a shame, however did see turkey, coyotes, turtles, and countless deer. Only around 30 min. down I -35 from Overland Park well worth the time. An earlier review mentioned the Old Depo Museum as a parking spot, use it it's perfect. Next stop Prairie Spirit.

Allen to Rd. H

Today we rode from Allen to Rd. H. A short trip out and back. I would recommend this section of trail for a cool, bright morning like today. It was lovely. Had it been hotter, it would of been very uncomfortable for us as there is very little shade in this section. Lots of pasture and we were fortunate to find lots of blackberries along the way!

Eastern Section, well-vegetated

I’ve ridden the eastern section between Ottawa and Osawatomie following its recent completion. I usually park/start in north Ottawa at the Old Depot Museum just west of the grain elevators there. I then ride the Prairie Spirit Trail south a few blocks to 7th Street, and then go east on 7th about a mile to the FHNT gate near the levee road there. Parking is limited and remote at the actual end-gates for this section. Still, one can ride into either downtown area for services.

Because this 17-mile section (gate-to-gate; 7th Street to John Brown Hwy) borders the Marias des Cynes River, much of it is wooded and shaded. I’ve seen fox, coyote, deer, turkey, and numerous birds and butterfly-types there. Wildflowers permeate its corridor as well. An occasional John-boat might be parked next to it too. Its limestone surface is hard packed with small amounts of scattered ballast showing up occasionally. Overall, it is easy to ride.

Equestrians also use the trail. Their pickups/trailers might be parked in the widened section passing thru the village of Rantoul, midway between Ottawa and Osawatomie. Although this trail has no real tailheads or services, Rantoul does have a small outdoor shack of coin-operated dispensers plus a week-end-only café/gift-shop. I’ve also seen hikers and photographers on this nature trail.

Flint Hills Nature Trail Observations of entire route Sept. 2010

In response to perrysmith in September, 2010 1 it really helps when you are spelling the name of a town that you actually spell it correctly. It is Herington, not Herrington. Secondly the reason that you actually see out here in this part of the state "Rails to Trails" is not for bikes. I hope that you do understand that this has to do with the Santa Fe Trail and the Rail Road. Also most of those trails in which you are discussing are on private land. Therefore the 3 fences that you had to go over you were actually trespassing. You need to understand that farmers could honestly careless about your biking and are making sure that their crops and animals are taken care of.

Follow-up review (Osawatamie to Rantoul)

This past weekend we rode the section of trail between Osawatamie and Rantoul, KS (didn't have time for a longer ride). We first tried to park at the school and ride from there, but the railroad tracks still haven't been removed from that section and it's overgrown with weeds, so we got onto the trail about a mile west of town, where it crosses over the road. Within the first mile or so, there was a road crossing that was a little steep and rocky, but I took my mountain bike this time instead of my cyclocross bike, and the crossing was no problem on the mountain bike. I would have probably needed to walk the cyclocross bike across if I had that, but it's only about 50 feet from one side to the other, so no biggy. After that it was just hard packed gravel the rest of the way, and although this section isn't in the Flint Hills, there was still some really great scenery, especially along the river section. This section of trail also has alot more trees, so we were riding in a shaded canopy for a good portion of the ride. Sure this trail might not be as maintained as other rail trails, but I think it's a great trail regardless. The Katy is a state park trail, so it is maintained with state money, and has ammenities along the way. This is a nature trail, so it's not going to have all the ammenities, or be as well maintained, but I think that's part of what makes it more appealing....to me anyway


Flint Hills Nature Trail (between Allen, KS and Council Grove, KS)

We rode the 21 mile section of the trail starting in Allen, KS and riding to Council Grove, KS. About 7 miles into the ride west of Allen the trail opned up into the Flint Hills with incredible views. I don't know what the rest of the trail is like, but the section we rode was awsome! Here's a link to a bunch of photos I took along the way. I also recommend lunch at the Hays House in Council Grove. We fueled up there for the 21 mile ride back to the vehicle.


Trailhead a Herrington

Started on the trail in Herrington heading east. In the first 2.5 miles we had to cross 3 barbed wire fences or gates. Do the local farmers know that this is a rail-trail and not their property? The railbed is the same large railroad rock that has always been there, overgrown with trees and weeds. We gave up after our 2.5 miles and hopped on to a dirt road and took highway 56. Has great potential but almost impassible at this point.

Good luck finding the trail head, once you do it is not necessarily worth the effort.

I tried to ride the section from Ottawa west toward Vassar I figured it would be scenic since it travels through the Flint Hills.

Let me start off by telling you how to find it so you don't have to spend over an hour trying to find it like I did. You can get on the trail west of town if you follow 2nd street west, go under 68, turn left and follow that until you get to some ball fields. There is a cemetery there. The ball fields are not on the map. If you head north through the woods from there you will hit the trail.

The surface of the trail is still the rock left over when it had railroad ties, so it is rough. The trail is VERY rough and over grown. You will need a MTB bike or at least a cyclocross bike. Bring plenty of inner tubes. I rode through something with lots of tiny thorns and could not find them all, went through all my tubes so I had to give up and leave.

In all fairness, it did look interesting but only if you are looking for a rough adventurous trail. This is not like the Prairie Spirit on the other end of town. This trail is unimproved. I do however plan on trying it again, but only after I get some Stan's No Tubes. I will probably head east this time towards Ossawatomie.

If you are NOT looking for an adventure, find a nice gravel road somewhere else and save yourself the time it takes to get there.
Also, keep in mind, if you need something for your bike the closest bike shop is in Lawrence 20 miles north.

Nice scenery. Tough trail surface. No trailside services.

Rode the section of the trail from Osawatomie to Ottawa and back on June 9, 2011. That stretch of trail does offer some nice scenery. Other than that, I'd not recommend it for the faint of heart.

Good luck trying to get on the trail in Osawatomie. Just drive west of town on the John Brown highway and park on the north side of the highway where the trail crosses - about a mile west of the Trojan Elementary School. The first couple of miles from there will be discouraging. Rough surface, very poor crossing of a roadway just as the ride is starting, and evidence you will be sharing the trail with horses. Be prepared to dodge the droppings.

The trail winds through some beautiful, secluded woods running along the river. Large rocks litter the surface, and rough spots abound so keep your eyes on the trail. Carry enough water to get you to Ottawa. If you're used to nice rest areas like the Katy or Raccoon River Valley or Prairie Spirit offer, don't plan on them here. This is a rough trail. And if you're thinking of taking a road bike on this section, it doesn't seem like a good idea.

Once in Ottawa get off the trail and ride surface streets. The section of gravel road from the trail to the paved roadways is a challenge. Go slow. I found myself wondering who in the neighborhood must have ticked off the city council to have such bad road surface! :)

It is obvious that the State of Kansas isn't using any money to maintain or develop this beautiful resource. How sad. I've ridden trails in Iowa and Missouri, and those that are maintained attract users. And users spend money. The scenery of this trail is as attractive as any in the neighboring states. Unfortunately there will probably not be many people use the trail unless it is improved a bit and regularly maintained. Right now the volunteers that are committed to the task do as well as can be expected with the limited resources they have.

Olathe, KS

Osawatomie Trip

The trail out of Osawatomie is beautiful as it follows the river for quite some ways, the trail is in good condition and is easy to ride, the ride was in the fall and the scenery was breathtaking, we rode an approximate 25 mile round trip, issues we found is that the Osawatomie end does not go into town as the trail is occupied by semi trailers, we got on the trail by parking at the grade school and riding down John Brown highway till we could get on the trail, where the trail starts there is no parking and we now understand that people just pull off the highway and park on the trail, there is a section at the beginning where there is no bridge, it is a steep descent to the road and then back up to the trail, the bike needs to be walked there as this is not the safest of declines and ascents, overall the trip was very enjoyable and we are planning to take this trip all the way into Ottawa next time, we have investigated the Ottawa end and the trail just ends and there seems to be no signs on how to get back on the trail to continue going west, in time I believe this trail will be very nice as soon as all the work is finished

West end of trail near Herrington

Recently rode approximately the last ten miles of the trail into Herrington.

It was a beautiful and isolated fall ride through the Kansas prairie.

I would highly recommend this section of the trail to someone wanting a “real” outdoor experience.
However, be aware of the conditions before you go.

The trail is unimproved and appears to be rarely ridden in this section. If you’re going to bike it you’ll need a mountain bike. The surface has been graded but that’s it. The surface is rough ballast and shifts a little underneath you.

Sections of the trail are overgrown with weeds up to 2 feet high. Long pants might not be a bad idea.
There is no signage however the trail in easy to find and follow.

Flint Hills Nature Trail Observations of entire route Sept. 2010

We, a group of four fairly experienced bike riders,who have ridden rails-to-trails in Missouri and Iowa, were very excited about the 117 mile Flint Hills Nature Trail. We had read a few reviews and talked to a couple of people who stated that the trail was ridable. although rough, the entire distance. We planned to ride over Labor Day Weekend and made hotel reservations.

We started the trip in Ottawa and road to Osawatamie and were very pleased with the condition of the trail. It has obviously been taken care of and it was a wonderful ride. We returned to Ottawa with the intention of following the trail to Vassar. We were informed that the safest way to get to Pamona was not on Highway 68, a busy highway with minimal shoulder so we took the Prairie Spirit trail to 23rd street and then went 10 miles to the end of that road on nice pavement and some hills. (not rails to trails grade). We then went 2 miles north to Pamona and by then had put in 60+ miles so we ate dinner and asked about avoiding traffic to get to Vassar. As it was approaching dark, we were told that the best way would be to go on Highway 268, again hilly and no shoulder to 368 to the Lamont Hotel. We logged 73 miles that day of hard riding.

The next morning we went to the trailhead and rode back east approximately 2 1/2 miles then headed toward Osage City. The trail had a crushed rock surface with some overgrowth down the middle and on the sides. One stretch of that section was unkept. We arrived in Osage City, had some mechanical problems so got off the trail. After fixing the problem we headed out of town where we thought the trail would intersect but poor marking and no clear cut path in town resulted in us missing the trail so once again we were on the highway with hills and no shoulder. We rode on highway 56 to Allen where we ate lunch. The townspeople told us the trail was used quite a bit between Allen and Osage City and when we looked to the east, it appeared that the trail was well maintained. Going west towards Council Grove we were told that there would be a couple of cattle gates to open and close. As we left Allen the trail was ridable, with quite a bit of growth onto the trail, down the middle and overhead but there were two paths. The surface was crushed rock with occasional ballast. However, once we got to Bushong, the trail became almost unridable. There was no path and the weeds were mid-bike high. There was one stretch of large ballast rock that three of us walked our bikes over. The saving grace was that the flint hills were beautiful!!!!
We rode for about 8 miles in 1 1/2 hours and finally came to a dirt road crossing. We had a state map and saw a paved diagonal road, Dunlap Road that looked like it would end up in Council Grove. We rode another 6-7 miles to reach the town. As we went into town, we did not find the trail head entering town. That day we put in 63 miles of hard riding.

On the third day our original plan was to finish the trail by riding to Herrington and back (53 miles). We started the day by finding the trail head at the east of Council Grove. They have developed the route of about 4 miles to the Allegawaho Heritage Park which was a nice ride. We then returned to Council Grove and tried to find the trail going west. We did find the abandoned rail bed and followed a dirt road for 6-7 miles, checking at every intersection for the condition of the trail and then gave up. That stretch of trail had not been ridden on or hiked on period. We then road our bikes to the reservoir to finish up the mileage we had intended to ride.

The next day as we were returning to our home we drove to Herrington and did see that the trail bed had been mowed but it did not look like it had seen much riding.

I realize that it takes great effort and time to establish a biking trail, and the parts that are maintained were very nice. The entire route should not be listed as a rails-to-trails route as the characteristics of rails-to trails is not developed on this 117 miles. People who chose to ride rails to trails in my opinion or looking for safe surfaces that allow for conversation and enjoyment of the countryside. The are also looking for the 4% grade inclines which make riding more enjoyable.

I would very highly recommend the first 20 miles of the ride and then hooking into the Prairie Spirit Trail.
I would hope that the area around Council Grove would be better developed to take advantage of the beautiful Flint Hills as the part we saw were something you can not appreciate from the highway. Kansas has an opportunity to develop a specatular biking/hiking experience.

Flint Hills Nature Trail - is it completed?

We have rode from Osawatomie to the east side of Ottawa - not too bad. Can anyone tell me the conditions from Ottawa on west? How far does it run - is it connected or is there spots that require off trail = road travel? I cannot seem to get the info from the internet - any information would be greatly appreciated.

Osage City portion of this trail.

It is very upsetting that locals (mostly older) are against the trail and have circulated a petition saying the the trail is a bad thing. The opponents of the trail think it will allow criminals to enter our area. Once a trail is completed it is a felony trespass to operate a motorized vehicle. I don't think too many crooks ride bikes or wear back packs.

Years ago there was a tract of land out west the government wanted to preserve for future generations but local land owners filed lawsuits and raised all kinds of Hell saying it was their land and the timber was an important commodity. That section of land is now known as Yosemite National Park.

I shake my head in disgust at the local folks who actually think the trail is a bad thing. Apparently those people have never traveled on a completed "Rails to Trails".

I too once was a stanch opponent of the trail until I rode a bike a few miles on one. It is a great experience to allow your kids ride ahead or behind without the worry of a car smashing them.

Before you form a negative opinion, do as my family did and experience a completed trail. Its not too far, Admire, Ottawa, Princeton... take your pick.

I spoke to a 74 year old women who volunteered at the Ottawa trail head. We talked about trail development and she said in the beginning many locals were against the trail and even filed a lawsuit and circulated petitions (sounds familiar). The lady said all the worries the locals had never came to be true.

I should of videoed her and put it on Youtube for everyone to see. Her story was honest and made me smile.

Rick Potter
Osage City, Kansas

Following the Santa Fe Nat'l Historic Trail

What is remarkable about the Flint Hills Nature Trail is that it generally follows the Santa Fe National Historic Trail and forms a vital link in the southern route of the American Discovery Trail, the nation’s first coast-to-coast trail. This greenway traverses a wide variety of natural areas including the Chippewa Hills in the Osage Cuestas, the riparian forests of the Marais des Cygnes (Marsh of the Swans) and Neosho River valleys and the Flint Hills, which contain the largest expanse of tallgrass prairie remaining in the world. Significantly, the Flint Hills Nature Trail could be easily linked to the nearby 11,000-acre Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, the only natural park unit of the national park system in Kansas.

The Flint Hills Nature Trail links Council Grove, a national historic landmark and the last stop for wagon trails to get supplies on the Santa Fe Trail, with Osawatomie, the location of the restored 1850s Adair Cabin made famous by John Brown during Bleeding Kansas. The recreational trail also passes through the 160-acre Kaw Nation Heritage Park, which contains the stone ruins of the Kaw Indian Agency complex, Chief Wah-To-An-Gah’s village site, the Monument to the Unknown Kaw Indian and the ruins of three small stone houses built for the Kaw (or Kanza) people in 1862. Hiking trails have been built in the park and a visitors/interpretive center is planned.

Near the town of Pomona the Flint Hills Trail intersects with the scenic Landon Trail corridor which is also managed by the Conservancy. This rail-trail corridor stretches 38 miles north to the capital city of Topeka. The Flint Hills Trail also links up in Ottawa with the 50-mile Prairie Spirit Rail-Trail which is managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

When the trail is complete, it will create an outstanding 200-mile interconnected trail system in the Sunflower State.


Short sections completed. Starting at Rantoul, KS, N38.55136 W095.10222 , 0.8 mile east trail was just a muddy track through field. West for 3.7 miles, nice trail with some low rough spots. One old steel RR Bridge. N38.56451 W95.12997. Bollards to close at N38.57164 W095.15490 Section from Vassar N38.64599 W95.61955 west to the end at Bridge over HWY-75, N38.64179 W95.68466 is good except for the last 0.5 miles with rough loose gravel ballast. Noel Keller 9& 11 Sep 09

Flint Hills Nature Trail (Ottawa) (Vassar)

Short sections completed. Starting at Rantoul, KS, N38.55136 W095.10222 , 0.8 mile east trail was just a muddy track through field. West for 3.7 miles, nice trail with some low rough spots. One old steel RR Bridge. N38.56451 W95.12997. Bollards to close at N38.57164 W095.15490 Section from Vassar N38.64599 W95.61955 west to the end at Bridge over HWY-75, N38.64179 W95.68466 is good except for the last 0.5 miles with rough loose gravel ballast. Noel Keller 9& 11 Sep 09

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