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Rail Trails in Kansas

There are two rail trails in Kansas.

Flint Hills Nature Trail

Flint Hills Nature Trail

The Flint Hills Nature Trail stretches 117 miles across east-central Kansas, from Osawatomie in the east to Herington in the west, and passes through communities including Rantoul, Ottawa, Pomona, Vassar, Osage City, Miller, Admire, Allen, Bushong, and Council Grove. The trail passes through five counties: Miami, Franklin, Osage, Lyon, and Morris.

The trail crosses the beautiful Flint Hills, which represent one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. It is home to abundant plant and wildlife species, spectacular views, national historic sites, and a diverse set of recreational areas. The eastern portions travel along the Marais Des Cygnes River, between rushing waters and towering bluffs, through rolling farmland and riparian woodlands.

The Flint Hills Nature Trail is the seventh-longest rail-trail in America, and the longest trail in Kansas. It follows the general route of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail and forms a component of the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail.The Flint Hills Nature Trail is built on old railroad corridor developed in the late 1880s as the Council Grove, Osage City & Ottawa Railway. It later became the Missouri Pacific Railroad, which discontinued rail service in the 1980s.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy acquired and railbanked the corridor in 1995 and later transferred ownership to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy. The KRTC had been developing the trail in sections, where volunteers have been available and where grant funding and donations have permitted the old corridor to be refurbished. In 2013, the Conservancy partnered with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism to accept a Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternatives Grant to move ahead more quickly with development. This and subsequent grants have allowed significant progress. The trail is now open from Osawatomie to Council Grove, but some portions may be temporarily closed as renovation activities take place. There are places, mostly in towns, where equestrian use is prohibited. Also, a very active railway runs adjacent to the trail for several miles west of Ottawa. Equestrians might want to avoid this area or be prepared for train whistles and cars going by.

Many places along the trail cross active county or state roads.Flint Hills Nature Trail—about 117 miles from Osawatomie to Herington.

Parking is available at Rantoul, Vassar, and Council Grove. Call 785-466-1417 for info on west half of trail, or 785-755-4129 for info on east half of trail.

Camping is available at Salt Creek Ranch east of Lyndon, 785-215-2296 or 785-215-4708; at Eisenhower State Park, Melvern Lake, 785-528-4102; or Pomona State Park, 785-828-4933.

Landon Nature Trail

Landon Nature Trail

The Landon Nature Trail is on nearly 40 miles of the former Missouri-Pacific Railroad linking Topeka’s Shunga Trail, southward, to Lomax Junction, and to the Flint Hills Nature Trail just east of Pomona Lake in Osage County.

This historic rail corridor is being developed as a trail and wildlife area open to the public for non-motorized use. Visitors are invited to enjoy hiking, biking, running, and horseback riding, and experience some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Midwest.

The 38-mile Landon Nature trail is a scenic recreational trail stretching from the Shunga Trail in Topeka to the Clinton Wildlife Area, Pomona Lake and on to the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail near Quenemo. The trail will be the only recreational trail in America to link the Oregon National Historic Trail with the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

In the North, this trail follows Camp Creek with its clear, rushing   water and wooded oak-hickory covered hills which provide a shady canopy for trail users. The nature trail passes by two wetlands teeming with waterfowl, native tallgrass prairie blooming with wildflowers and two lovely waterfalls.

Land surrounding the Swissvale Waterfall lies within the corridor and can be turned into a picnic area. The trail  crosses the Santa Fe Trail north of Overbrook. North of its southern terminus at Lomax lies a historic 240-feet-long steel truss bridge over 110 Mile Creek.

Few trails in the Midwest offer the variety of scenery and history provided by the Landon Nature Trail.The Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy continues to build and maintain the trails, which are open to equestrian use.Landon Nature Trail— about 38 miles between Topeka and Lomax (south of Pomona Lake). 

Parking area on 53rd Street, between Hwy 75 and SE Adams Street in Topeka. 785-608-8221 for trail info.

For more information or current maps showing open sections of trail,  www.kanzatrails.org. Follow on Facebook, Kanza Rail Trails Conservancy.