FIVE PLACES TO HIKE IN THE FLINT HILLS
Updated: Mar 20, 2022
The Flint Hills is a remarkable landscape and an ecosystem unlike any other. Providing year-round scenic panoramic views and glorious sunsets and sunrises. Here are fives places to hike and completely immerse yourself in its natural beauty.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Looking for a fully immersive Flint Hills hiking experience? Then head to Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Part of the National Park Service, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserves offers families and outdoor enthusiasts a range of hiking opportunities. Starting with three nature trails, shorter in distance, that allow "visitors to experience the tallgrass prairie first-hand." Nature trails are also dog-friendly (only nature trails) but kept on a 6 ft leash. If you're wanting to hike deeper into the tallgrass prairie then their backcountry trail is the way to go. The preserve is home to a bison herd, on the backcountry trail, you may encounter them. For your safety do not approach them.
All trails are open 24 hours, daily. Camping and biking are not allowed at the preserve, and leashed pets are only allowed on the nature trails.
Nearby Cities: Strong City, KS & Cottonwood Falls, KS
Learn more about the Flint Hills
Konza Prairie Biological Station
Owned by both The Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University, the Konza Prairie Biological Station is used by the KSU Division of Biology for field research. While most of the native prairie is used for research, there are multiple trails for visitors to hike. To preserve the landscape and limit contamination of the site, there are a number of rules for travelers to be aware of before they head out. These included no animals of any kind, foot traffic only, staying on the designated paths, and no camping or overnight hiking. You can see the complete list here.
There are three designated hikes on the prairie, they range in length from 2.6 miles to 6.2 miles. Trail hours are 6 am to 9 pm, daily.
Nearby City: Manhattan, KS
Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie
A short drive north from I-70, Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie is rich in history and pretty prairie views. The Nature Trail begins in the parking lot, winding around Mount Mitchell until you arrive at its crest. There is signage around the site and trails explaining the area's historical significance during the Bleeding Kansas era and the Underground Railroad. The main trail is roughly 1.5 miles, and www.GetOutdoorsKansas.org rates the difficulty as moderate. Last summer I hiked Mount Mitchell with my dog, and overall I felt the hike was easy. It is a nature trail and grassy terrain.
Nearby Cities: Wamego, KS & Manhattan, KS
Flint Hills Trail State Park
Clocking in at 117 miles, Flint Hills Trail State Park is the longest rail-trail in Kansas (seventh-longest in the nation). Cutting across five counties of the Flint Hills region, it connects the communities Osawatomie to Council Grove. The trail is currently under development to continue west from Council Grove to Herrington. Open to all non-motorized traffic, you can travel the trail on foot, bike or horseback.
Nearby City: Osawatomie, KS to Council Grove, KS
Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park
In Council Grove, forking off from Flint Hills Trail State Park is the two-mile-long Kanza Heritage Trail. The trail loops through the 158-acre Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park owned and managed by the Kaw Nation. This beautiful and sacred site holds the remains of structures from when the Kanza people lived here in the 1800s. From the trail, you'll see the monument of the unknown Kanza warrior, Wah Sko Mi A's Hut, Kick A Poo's Hut, and Little John Creek.