Flint Hills Trail State Park
The park is open to any non-motorized travel – hiking, biking and horseback riding – and is accessible for electric wheelchairs in many locations. There are no permits required to enjoy the park.
This crown jewel of Kansas trails extends 117 miles from Osawatomie to Herington. It is the seventh-longest rail-trail in the U.S. and the longest trail in Kansas. It follows the general route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail and is a component of the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.
As of spring 2019, of the 95 miles that are open and traversable between Osawatomie and Council Grove, about 44.5 miles have been developed. Where open, it is well-maintained. There are currently no restrooms or water fountains next to the trail and some of it is still under construction, so plan accordingly. The segment between Council Grove and Herington is closed.
Flint Hills Trail State Park crosses the Flint Hills, one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. It is home to abundant prairie plants and wildlife species, spectacular views, national historic sites, and a diverse set of recreational areas. On eastern portions of the trail, hikers and bikers travel along the Marais Des Cygnes River, between rushing waters and towering bluffs, through rolling farmland and riparian woodlands. Flint Hills Trail State Park connects with Prairie Spirit Trail State Park in Ottawa.
Flint Hills Trail State Park was established by the Kansas Legislature in 2018. Formerly called the Flint Hills Nature Trail, it follows the rail-banked corridor of the former Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoPac). MoPac discontinued actively using the line in the 1980s. The corridor was railbanked in 1995 and later transferred to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy (KRTC), which worked to develop the trail in locations where volunteers and funding were available. KDWPT began partnering with the KRTC in 2013 to help develop the trail. While the trail is now a state park, the KRTC will remain a valued partner.
The trail is open from outside of Osawatomie at John Brown Rd, to Council Grove. The segment between Council Grove and Herington is closed. Development of Flint Hills Trail State Park is ongoing. When completed, the trail will connect six counties (Miami, Franklin, Osage, Lyon, Morris and Dickinson). Twelve welcoming communities will await trail-goers, including Osawatomie, Rantoul, Ottawa, Pomona, Vassar, Osage City, Miller, Admire, Allen, Bushong, Council Grove and Herington.
Several segments of the trail are unimproved or closed, but long-range plans call for it to be improved along its entire length. Improvements will be completed in segments as funds become available. Developing the trail will encourage outdoor recreation and provide safer routes for pedestrians, bicyclists and equestrians.