The Flint Hills Nature Trail stretches for 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.
As its name suggests, the trail crosses the beautiful Flint Hills. The Flint Hills represent one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. It is home to abundant prairie plant and wildlife species, spectacular views, national historic sites, and a diverse set of recreational areas. The eastern portions of the route travels alongside 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.
Flint Hills Nature Trail History
The Flint Hills Nature Trail is built on an old railroad corridor. The route was originally developed in the late 1880s, as the Council Grove, Osage City & Ottawa Railway. It later became the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
MoPac discontinued railway service on the line in the 1980s, and subsequently abandoned. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy acquired and railbanked the corridor in 1995 and later transferred ownership to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy.
The KRTC has 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.
The Flint Hills Nature Trail was the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s “Trail of the Month” in March 2010. The RTC also features the Flint Hills Nature Trail on their TrailLink site.
Flint Hills Nature Trail Quick Facts
Did you know the Flint Hills Nature Trail is the …
Longest trail in the Sunflower State (117 miles)
Seventh longest rail-trail in America
Longest privately-managed rail-trail in the country
Part of coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail
Follows general route of Santa Fe National Historic Trail
An all-volunteer rails-to-trails project
Open to any non-motorized vehicles and horses
Open sunrise to sunset 365 days a year
Free to the public
Learn More about the Flint Hills Nature Trail
Natural and Historic Features Along the Flint Hills Nature Trail