Flint Hills Nature Trail Project

The Flint Hills Nature Trail extends 117 miles from Osawatomie to Herington in the right of way of the former Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoPac). 

MoPac discontinued using the line in the 1980s. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy acquired and railbanked the corridor in 1995. They later transferred ownership to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy (KRTC), which has been developing the trail in locations where volunteers and funding have been available.  

The trail passes through five counties (Miami, Franklin, Osage, Lyon, and Morris) and numerous communities including Rantoul, Ottawa, Pomona, Vassar, Osage City, Miller, Admire, Allen, Bushong, and Council Grove.

Developing the trail will encourage outdoor recreation and provide safer routes for pedestrians, bicyclists and equestrians. Several segments of the trail are unimproved or closed, but long-range plans call for it to be improved along its entire length. The design team of CFS Engineers and RDG Planning and Design is leading the planning and design of the improvements, which will be completed in segments as funds become available.

Map of Project Phases

Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy - trail map, features, news

Signature Bridge Project - Updated November 5, 2015

As part of that project the KDWPT is hoping to transform four utilitarian bridges on the trail into special attractions and works of art in their own right. These “signature bridges” will provide users with a unique trail experience that also conveys the meaning of the land that the trail passes through. The KDWPT retained the design team of CFS Engineers and RDG Planning and Design to develop concepts for the bridges, with renderings that will be used to raise private contributions for construction.

For complete information on the signature bridge portion of the project please go to the address, http://rdgusa.com/flint-hills/.

To view and send comments on specific bridge locations and designs use the links below:

  • Ottawa Bridge - This bridge crosses the Marais des Cygnes River, just west of Ottawa and is the longest bridge span of any of the four signature bridges. The existing bridge structure is a classical truss span in the middle of the river and a long enclosed girder section on the west side. Ottawa’s 2nd Street Dam overlook directly to the south provides dramatic views of the bridge.
  • US-75 Bridge - This bridge, located just north of the roundabout intersection of 75 Highway and K-268, is the most visible of the Flint Hills Nature Trail Signature Bridges. The steel pedestrian bridge is already in place, so this concept would add interpretive forms to make it an outstanding destination.
  • K-99 Bridge - This bridge crosses K-99 just northeast of Admire and is a few hundred yards south of US-56. There is an existing concrete bridge abutment in place today, but that abutment is likely to be removed due to its close proximity to the road. We anticipate that an off-the-shelf steel pedestrian bridge – much like the US-75 pedestrian bridge – will replace what is there today.
  • Council Grove Bridge - This bridge is located just south of the Main Street Bridge and is adjacent to the Council Grove High School. The bridge will be connected to the Neosho Riverwalk on the east side in the near future, so views and to the bridge from the north are especially important. Its location in the center of a historic community that attracts many visitors requires this bridge to be immediately recognizable as it tells the story of Council Grove. Council Grove is also the northern end of the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.
Phase I-A Improvements

KDWPT has contracted with APAC-Kansas, Shears Division to complete improvements along the Flint Hills Nature Trail. The first phase of construction (Phase I-A) will extend from Colorado Road to Iowa Terrace in Franklin County with construction activities occurring entirely within the current Flint Hills Nature Trail right of way. The $1,194,322 project will include clearing, gravel surfacing, bridge railing, and signing. The start date for construction is planned for February 23, 2015, weather permitting. Owners of property adjacent to the Phase 1-A right of way will also be notified by mail.

Persons with questions or who want to receive regular email updates about the construction can contact Trent McCown, KDWPT, at (785) 448-2627 or by email at trent.mccown@ksoutdoors.com.

Community workshops about this phase were held in 2014 at:

  • Ottawa, Thursday, February 20, 2014 
  • Council Grove, Friday, February 21, 2014
  • Osage City, Monday, April 21, 2014