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The Southwind Rail Trail opened in 2013 for recreation and active transportation use on a converted railroad corridor stretching between the small southeast Kansas cities of Iola and Humboldt. The trail is essentially a southern extension of the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail, which travels through Iola and a rural landscape farther north to the city of Ottawa.
The trail begins at Iola's Riverside Park, which features baseball fields and a swimming pool. Shortly thereafter, the trail crosses Elm Creek on a restored railroad trestle. The rest of the journey to the outskirts of Humboldt is marked by a landscape of rolling hills and fertile farmland.
The Southwind Rail Trail was developed in large part through the efforts of Thrive Allen County, an active local nonprofit. In a first for Kansas, the local county commission also voted to help maintain and manage the trail.
Parking for the Southwind Rail Trail can be found in Iola at Riverside Park. The park's large parking lots are located just west of the intersection of S. State Street and W. Vine Street.
Late March ride so weather was still a bit cool but sunny. Surface was fine for just about any bike. Most of the trail was bordered close in with trees (cedar) so not a lot of vistas. Nearly a straight shot all the way. Well preserved railroad bridge just south of Iola. Trail just ends on Humboldt end at the north edge of town. Not a lot in Humboldt but it would be nice if the trail went a half mile farther and dropped you off at Bridge St. Would make for a leisurely ride to grab lunch and return
Started the trail at Riverside Park in Iola on the north end of the trail where the Prairie Spirit Trail ends. This is a nicely done trail with compacted finely crush stone surface. It is a wide trail allowing two to ride abreast with ease. As with all railtrails it is flat and straight. There a few old train signal towers along the trail. We didn’t ride the full length. 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.
Not realizing that the Prairie Spirit Trail stopped in Iola and transitioned into the Southwind Rail Trail from that point to Humboldt, I was surprised to see the Southwind sign after biking down from Welda. What a pleasant surprise it was. The trail is in excellent condition, packed down with minimal debris/rocks, and made for a reasonably smooth ride. More shade was provided by foliage than I expected, which helped keep me cool on a boiler of a day. Not sure who to thank for maintaining this trail so well, yet I hope they read this - I'm grateful.
First time riding this trail. Well maintained, very quiet trail. Rode Humboldt to Iola today, and only saw one other rider the whole time.
Road this trail from Iola to Humboldt on a fall afternoon in 2018.Very well kept and actually met the individual who takes great pride in keeping up the trail.There are still many railroad features along the trail and the crushed surface is well maintained.Both Iola and Humboldt have several new restaurants and accommodations being renovated which makes staying in the area quite enjoyable
Rode this trail from Iola to Humbolt and back, and then stumble on the single track trail outside of Iola. That was really nice too! We camped in Humbolt and that was disappointing with the noise from a local plant and the bathrooms were quite dirty.
We rode this from Riverside Park south for about 3 miles. It is a flat trail that is maintained pretty well. We enjoyed it, but it was right at sundown so we couldn't go any farther..
This is an amazing trail. VERY WELL maintained and very easy to ride. My friends and I rode this trail last week from Humbolt to Iola and from there rode the Prairie Spirit Trail on up to Colony where we had lunch. Then we rode back to Humbolt. I was so impressed, and it was so beautiful with the tree canopies and the big bridge. I am planning on coming back and bringing my husband so he can experience this beautiful trail too. I would give this trail 10 stars if I could.
I ran this trail yesterday and it was a good 1 hour round trip. It's well maintained; I did it using a gravel-oriented road bike (32 mm tires) and had no problems. It's scenic, with fields, forests, and streams, and abandoned railroad signal boxes. There is parking at both ends.
I live in Iola and use this trail several times a week. Maintained very well.
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