Final leg of trail complete; online video provides preview
PRATT -- In May of 1992, title of the 50-mile stretch of railroad right-of-way from Ottawa to Iola was transferred to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), and the agency developed a three-phase plan to develop the trail and open it to the public. Phase One -- from Richmond to Welda -- opened on March 30, 1996. Phase Two -- from Richmond to Ottawa -- opened Sept. 1, 1998. After several years of construction, KDWP has announced that Phase Three -- from Welda to Iola -- is now open.

The trail's hard-packed limestone surface is suitable for foot traffic, bicycles, and wheelchairs. Portions of the trail inside city limits are paved asphalt adorned with ornamental lighting and landscaping. For the safety of trail users, it is routinely patrolled by KDWP officers and local law enforcement.

The trail is open during daylight hours, and special permits may be obtained for group night rides or other events. Restrooms are spaced conveniently along the trail, and picnic areas are located at each trailhead. Camping is prohibited along the trail corridor, but North Lake Park in Garnett, which borders the trail, does allow camping. Fishing is allowed only in lakes at Garnett. Hunting and all firearm possession is prohibited along the trail corridor.

For several years, bicyclers, hikers, runners, bird watchers, and other nature lovers have enjoyed 33 miles of the Prairie Spirit Trail. With the addition of the Welda-to-Iola segment, visitors now have a full 50 miles of nature to explore. For more information, phone 785-448-6767. To view an online video of the trail, visit the KDWP website, Click on "KDWP TV" at the top of the page.