Celebrate Rail Trails National Opening Day on April 13

From the Prairie Travelers:

Celebrate National Opening Day for rail trails with Prairie Travelers! It’s a national series of events organized by the Rails-to-Trails Conversancy, and this year is the 7th year!

Meet at the Goddard Park Trailhead of the Prairie Sunset Trail at 9 a.m. for a 12 mile round trip ride to the covered bridge and back. No registration needed.

After the ride, meet at the Goddard Pizza Hut (approx. 10:45 a.m.) for lunch.

PLUS!
Join us 12-4 p.m. for “Pathway to Ride” with Pathways Church in Goddard – a free kids bicycle clinic. Free shirts for registered youth. Register here.

Where to see bald eagles in Kansas – 2019

Where to see bald eagles in Kansas – 2019

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Bald eagle pair in Kansas. Photo by Bo Rader.

The return of the bald eagle has been a remarkable success story.  After being pushed towards extinction, the eagle steadily recovered under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.  In Kansas, nesting eagles made a return to the state in 1989 at Clinton Reservoir and have been increasing in numbers ever since.

As the winter cold sets in, eagles push south in search of open water.  In Kansas, mid-January is typically the ideal time to search for eagles along secluded coves of major reservoirs in the eastern half of the state.

For a good hike with a chance to see bald eagles, we recommend the Eagle Ridge Trail at Milford State Park or the Chaplin Nature Center trails by the Arkansas River.  Throughout the month of January there are events throughout the state that celebrate the recovery of this iconic species. Each of the following events offer educational programs and guided viewing tours for the public.

January 5th: The first opportunity for guided eagle viewing is at Tuttle Creek Reservoir with a program and vehicle tour starting at the Manhattan Fire Station (Kimball & Denison Ave) from 9:00 – 12:30.

January 23rd: Kaw Valley Eagles day celebrates the natural history and recovery of the bald eagle in Kansas with a family-friendly event at Billy Mills Middle School in Lawrence from 8:30 – 4:00. There will be presentations, activities for the kids and viewing expeditions.

January 26th: Eagle Days at Milford Lake. The nature center at Milford Lake hosts an annual eagle day event that includes programs and guided bus tours running from 9:00 – 4:00 to view eagles along the lake. Admission to the state park is free for the event and there’s also hot chocolate and popcorn for all!

January 26th: Chaplin Nature Center will offer a short educational program and guided hike along the nature center trails to view eagles along the Arkansas River.  Meet at the visitors center at 10:00 to join the fun.

Kansas First Day Hikes 2019

So it may be cold for the start of 2019, but it should be dry and there are several First Day Hikes throughout the state on January 1. Many of them include snacks or hot chocolate before or after, and they are all pet-friendly, so long as that pet is on a leash.

Here’s where you can go to ring in the new year out on a Kansas trail:

Clinton State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 P.M.

Trail: North Shores Trail

Meeting Location: Park Office

Details: Warm clothing, good boots, water, trail moderate in difficulty, 2 miles in length


Crawford State Park

Time of Event: 10:00 A.M.

Trail: Spider Leg Bridge Trail

Meeting Location: Beach Shelter

Details: Warm clothing, water resistant boots, water, trail moderate in difficulty, 2 miles in length


Cross Timbers State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: Chautauqua Trail

Meeting Location: Chautauqua Hills Trailhead – Toronto Point

Details: 1.5 miles; Dress warm and bring a camera for wildlife pictures. Refreshments will be provided


El Dorado State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 P.M.

Trail: Walnut River Trail

Meeting Location: Walnut River Cabins

Details: Dress warm and bring a camera for wildlife pictures. Easy to moderate 2 mile hike. Hot Chocolate and coffee will be provided.


Wilson State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 P.M.

Trail: Cedar Trail

Meeting Location: Parking Lot across from Cedar Trail Trailhead – Otoe

Details: Dress warm and bring a camera for wildlife pictures. Hike will be 1 mile and easy in difficulty.


Fall River State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: Post Oak Trail

Meeting Location: Quarry Bay Maintenance Shop

Details: Warm clothing, good boots, water, trail easy in difficulty, 3/4 mile in length, Refreshments provided, What you might see winter waterfowl, eagles, tallgrass ID, and other KS wildlife. The hike will also feature the Cross Timbers ecosystem, with oak savannas that are part of gold growth forests.


Green Property – Pratt, KS

Time of Event: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Trail: Green Recreational Trail

Meeting Location: Barn/Shop, Pratt, KS

Details: Water,snacks,appropriate winter clothing,good walking shoes/boots,binoculars,cameras. Hot Cider and Hot Chocolate after Hike


Kanopolis State Park

Time of Event: 10:00 A.M.

Trail: Split Boulder Trail – 1.6 miles

Meeting Location: State Park Office

Details: Water,snacks,appropriate winter clothing,good walking shoes/boots, binoculars, cameras. Coffee and hot chocolate provided at the park office before and after the hike


Glen Elder State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 p.m.

Trail: Wacanda Trail

Meeting Location: Church

Details: Water, snacks, appropriate winter clothing, good walking shoes/boots, binoculars, cameras.


Perry State Park

Time of Event: 10:00 A.M.

Trail: Nature Trail – 2 1/2 miles

Meeting Location: Lakeview Parking Lot

Details: Dress in layers and dress warmly; warm gloves and head covering; good walking/hiking shoes; walking/hiking poles, if desired; water and snacks provided.


Pomona State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: White Feather, Bunkers Cove & Morningstar Campgrounds – 1.5 to 2 miles

Meeting Location: Pomona State Park Office

Details: Appropriate Clothing, camera and water. May see Eagles on hike. There will be two options for hikes this year led by Pomona State Park Rangers.


Tuttle Creek State Park

Time of Event: 10:30 a.m.

Trail: Western Heritage Trail – 1 to 3.5 miles

Meeting Location: Tuttle Creek State Park Office

Details: Birdwatching hike, bring binoculars, bird ID booklet, spotting scopes, water, hiking shoes, warm clothing.

 

Milford State Park

Time of Event: 1:00 P.M.

Trail: Eagle Ridge Trail

Meeting Location: Group Shelter parking lot

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots. Easy to moderate in difficulty. Snacks


Meade State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: Eagle Trail – 1.25 miles

Meeting Location: Park Office

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots. Easy in difficulty. Learn park and area history along the hike.

Sand Hills State Park

Time of Event: 10:00 A.M.

Trail: Dune Trail/Prairie Trail 1 mile

Meeting Location: Park Office Cabin

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots


Cheney State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 P.M.

Trail: West Side Trail – 1/2 to 3/4 mile

Meeting Location: Park Office

Details: Water, snacks, weather appropriate clothing, hiking boots, binoculars and camera.

Flint Hills Nature Trail State Park

Time of Event: 2:00 p.m.

Trail: Flint Hills Nature Trail

Meeting Location: Meet at the Old Depot in Ottawa

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots. Pet friendly on leash. Hot Chocolate served after the hike!


Elk City State Park

Time of Event: 12:00 p.m.

Trail: Table Mound Hiking Trail

Meeting Location: Overlook Trail Head

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots. Bring water and snacks, if desired. Pet friendly on leash. Easy to moderate in difficulty


Hillsdale State Park

Time of Event: 10:30 a.m.

Trail: Hidden Springs Nature Trail

Meeting Location: Park Office

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots.

 

Prairie Dog State Park

Time of Event: 9:00 A.M.

Trail: The Nature Trail

Meeting Location: Trail Parking Lot

Details: Dress warm with comfortable, warm hiking shoes/boots.

Share your photos! #FirstDayHikes and #MyKSStatePark

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s December and so we have our annual Kansas Trail Guide gift guide. These are a selection of ten awesome and unique gifts for anyone in your life who loves trails, loves Kansas, or both!

Not on the list, but just as a reminder, that any Kansas trail lover in your life would love a copy of the award-winning Kansas Trail Guide! Order your signed copy for 24.95 within the next week for Christmas shipping.

Heartlandia sticker

1. Heartlandia stickers

This Wichita based company makes fun stickers, t-shirts, pins, and keyring, all celebrating Kansas. I’ve got the Ad Astra Per Aspera one on my car, and the No Coast/Best Coast one on my trusty water bottle. For the cyclist in your life, there’s the I Bike Wichita and the I Bike Newton.

They’ve also got things like the quirky Jackalope and the nostalgic Joyland. They’re high quality, and the perfect stocking stuffer. Buy online or at a local store. Items from $3.

2. Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers

By the talented Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe, this is the second edition of their much-loved Kansas Guidebook for Explorers. It’s got 4,500+ entries of awesome things to do and see around the state. For $24.95.

Garmin Fenix 5 watch

3. Garmin Fenix 5 Watch

We’ve loved Garmin from the beginning of our trail book writing days, and while we had the handheld devices (which are also awesome), the Fenix 5 watch has up to date, color topographic maps, measures your heart rate, tracks your info from distance to altitude (yes, there are hills in Kansas!), and even connects with Spotify so you can get a playlist for your route.

From $699.99 (currently at the time of writing on sale for $100 off) via the Garmin website.

4. Buckskin Road Coffee Roastery

You’ve got to be able to get up and going for the trail. So power through with a super strong, super tasty cup of coffee made by a local Kansas roaster. Started in 2017, the Buckskin Road Coffee Roastery is based in Inman. You can order online, or stop by and they’ll refund the shipping. I also saw their bags of beans at downtown Hutchinson’s new Wool Market & DIY School. From $11.

Patagonia Black Hole Waist Pack in Balkan Blue

5.  Patagonia Black Hole Waist Pack

Store everything you need easily at hand and avoid getting a sweaty back with the Patagonia Black Hole Waist Pack. Named the black hole because it holds so much!

It’s got one big compartment, plus stretchy water bottle pockets. It’s generally waterproof (in that it’s water-resistant and finished with DWR), and it’s got compression straps that hug your hips and keep it from bouncing around too much. Available in four different colors. From $59.

6. Conscious steps socks

Give back with your gift of these socks. They have a sustainable supply stream, and the socks are made from organic cotton by workers in an ethical workplace. Oh, and they’re in a variety of patterns and styles for men and women. You can also designate where you’d like your donation to go when you buy them — to fight poverty, to give water, to protect elephants, to give books. From $11.95.

7. Stall Watch

There are cameras to remotely watch your baby in his/her crib, cameras to see who’s at your door. Why not a camera for your horse? Keep an eye on your horses (or I guess anything you might keep in a stall), day or night, near or far with Stall Watch. It’s a portable video surveillance system that is easy to set up and doesn’t require wi-fi to operate. From $225 plus data plan.

8. The Muncher – multi-tool utensil

As they bill it, “this ain’t your dad’s camp spork.” So yes, it is a spork, but it’s also a:

All the ways to use The Muncher

  • Serrated knife
  • Fire flint
  • Peeler
  • Can opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Pry bar
  • Box cutter
  • Cord cutter
  • Flathead screwdriver

It’s made of titanium and weighs only 20 grams. It’s the everything but the kitchen sink of multi-tools. From $49.98.

9. Lezyne Sport Drive HP Hand Pump

Flat tire out on the trail? No problem. The Lezyne Sport Drive HP Hand Pump is 6.7 inches long and 2.65 ounces, and it fits Presta, Schrader valves. It comes with a frame mount, or you could stash it in your Patagonia Black Hole Waist Pack. Most importantly, though, it can pump to over 100psi without exhausting you. From $19.99.

Oofos sandals in black/aqua

10. Oofos sandals

Admittedly, these aren’t the most traditionally attractive sandals, but if you’ve ever had a long day out on the trail and you come home with sore feet and never want to talk again — these are the sandals for you.

With the design of the foam, they absorb 1/3 more pressure than regular shoes or sandals, and that helps reduce the pressure on your joints. They’ve got good arch support, and they’re even machine washable! It means wearing them around the house after a long day on the trail means you’ll be able to get back out there sooner and feeling better than ever.

They’re available in a variety of colors. From $49.95

Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park Coming Soon! Interview with Nature Conservancy

We reached out to The Nature Conservancy with some questions about their work to make Little Jerusalem into a protected Kansas park, and here’s what they had to say.

KTG: What’s the latest status of the Little Jerusalem land?

Nature Conservancy: Little Jerusalem is not yet open to the public. In May, legislation to designate the property as the Little Jerusalem Badland State Park passed both chambers and was signed by the governor. The Nature Conservancy will continue to own the property and establish long-term agreement with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to manage outdoor recreational opportunities in a manner that protects the fragile rocks. As the landowner, The Nature Conservancy will continue to pay local property taxes and maintain management oversight.

We are currently working closely with KDWPT, engineers and educators to develop a public access plan for this unique landscape. The exact nature of all access is yet to be determined but we are still hopeful that the public will be able to enjoy Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park in the coming year.

Why do you think people are drawn to this area?

The Nature Conservancy’s western Kansas conservation manager explains this best with a story about his four-year-old daughter Josie.

“We had pulled up to a big old pasture not much different than the places I had been lucky to explore as a kid near our farm in western Ness County. It was an impressive, vast, intact place, but it was on the edge of a wind farm and had a single turbine visible from where we were parked. I asked her if she thought the place looked wild, if it would be worth exploring. She simply said, ‘Well it’s not wild, Dad, there’s a big white windmill in it.’ And then I asked her if she’d want to go with me and explore it and her answer was, “Nope, somebody already has.” What this tells me is that there is a very innate part of us with a sense of wonder and exploration, and that part of us appreciates wild places. I suspect appreciation for nature as it was created is left in just about all of us. For me, at a very basic level, that is what The Nature Conservancy is doing: preserving those places and that sense of wonder, so that future generations will someday experience a wild place. And they are doing it right here, in this part of the state that we call home.”

Will it be open to the public with trails and if so, do you know when, or what the trails might consist of (length, access to hikers/bikers/horse)?

The exact nature of all access is yet to be determined, but it will designed to have as little impact to the rocks as possible.

What makes the area so special and/or of interest to The Nature Conservancy?

Beyond the impressive scenic views, Little Jerusalem provides a unique opportunity to connect people to the wonders of the prairie. These rocks serve as important nesting habitat for ferruginous hawks, cliff swallows, rock wrens and other native wildlife. The property is home to the single largest population of Great Plains wild buckwheat, a plant found in the chalk bluffs prairie of western Kansas and nowhere else in the world.

In addition to modern wildlife, these badlands contain 85-million-year-old fossils of swimming and flying reptiles. The Nature Conservancy’s chief purposes for the site are to, first, protect the pristine natural features and, second, provide access for people to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

What’s the goal of The Nature Conservancy’s work in western Kansas?

Native grasslands are among the most destroyed and least protected ecosystems on Earth. It is estimated that only 3%or fewer of the grasslands that formerly covered the Central Great

Plains are intact. Ongoing encroachment of cropland conversion, energy development, urban sprawl, invasive species, and subdivision continue to degrade and threaten the ecological health of the central Great Plains.

In western Kansas, at least 80% of the native prairie has been converted to some other use. Demonstrating that healthy wildlife populations and successful ranching operations go hand-in-hand is critical to retaining the 20% of the prairie that’s left. Smoky Valley Ranch supports tremendous plant and wildlife diversity while continuing its long history as a working cattle ranch.

The Nature Conservancy manages the 17,290-acre Smoky Valley Ranch as model to demonstrate that healthy ecosystems and profitable agricultural land use can coexist. The Conservancy then works with other landowners in the region to promote land management practices like moderate cattle stocking rates, rotational grazing, and developing drought contingency plans so that conservation can be affected beyond the ranch.

Will the proposed state park plans also include the Smoky Valley Ranch land?

No. The remainder of Smoky Valley Ranch will remain a private, working cattle ranch with visitor access limited to the hiking trails on the western boundary.

FHNT Voted Trail Destination of the Year! Award presentation in Council Grove on 7/13 @3

Flint Hills Nature Trail won the vote for Top Kansas Trail Destination of the Year, and we’ll be honoring that vote at a presentation at the Council Grove library on Friday, July 13 at 3pm.

We’ll be presenting a free copy of the book to the library as well as giving a short presentation on the FHNT and trails across Kansas. Books will be available for purchase as well as signing.

If you go:

Council Grove Public Library, 829 W Main St

3pm on July 13

Dinner and book signing at Dillon Nature Center 7/10

In connection with HutchRec and Dillon Nature Center, we’re presenting our book talk along with a signing on July 10 in Taylor Cabin. Before the presentation, there will be a dinner at 6:30 — taco salad, rice & black beans, Mexican chocolate cake.

To register for the event (a head count is needed for the food) – follow this link for online registration or download the registration form here to return to HutchRec.

We look forward to seeing you!

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