Vote for the Kansas Top Trail Town 2017

In honor of the upcoming National Trails Day (June 3), we’re hoping to find out which Kansas town / city you think is the best one for trails.

Whichever location gets the most votes will be honored as our Top Trail  Town of the Year 2017, and we’ll be sending a free copy of our book to the winning town’s public library.

We’ve included in our poll the places that are expanding their trail system, have embraced the local trails, and embody the spirit of adventure on the plains.

  • Iola has the Thrive Allen County campaign as well as being the trailhead for the Prairie Spirit Trail, Southwind Rail Trail, and the Lehigh Portland Trails among others.
  • Marysville combines the old and new trails of Kansas. It’s home to the recently completed Blue River Rail Trail that extends into Nebraska as well as the Pony Express Trail and Oregon Trail. The Kansas Sampler Foundation named it the Trails Capital of Kansas.
  • Topeka is the trailhead for the Landon Nature Trail, which starts at the historic site of Brown v Board of Education, it has the only set of trails outside of a Governor’s Mansion, and it’s an access point for the Kansas River Trail.
  • Lawrence is another stop on the Kansas River Trail, and it has a plethora of well-loved and well-maintained trails including the KU Field Station, Clinton Lake, and the nearby recently restore and expanded Baker Wetlands.

Did we leave one out? Let us know and let us hear your vote!

Trail Profile: South Mound Trails

Trail Profile: South Mound Trails

“And when in the great future of the matchless State, farm shall be added to farm, and town to town, and the great cities of the future shall have come, the mounds shall still stand and still keep silent watch over the noble landscape forever beneath their feet.” -William G. Cutler 1883

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View from South Mound

One of the most striking natural landmarks in Wilson County are the Twin Mounds which rise up to an elevation of over 1,000 feet to tower over the surrounding plains.  Noted by William G. Cutler in his 1883 “History of Kansas”, early hikers were said to take a “well-worn path” to the summit and upon reaching the pinnacle can see “unrolled before him one of the finest sights of the new world. Southward runs the somber timber lines which mark the course of Fall River. Westward lies the second mound and between the fertile fields to the far north can be seen the fringe of the Verdigris”

The mounds still keep watch over Fredonia and present a sweeping view of the Fall River valley. The South Mound is now graced by a picnic area, playground, observation tower, and what appears to be the largest American flag west of the Verdigris. Through the work of the Kansas Trails Council and the Cultivate Fredonia Healthy Living Action Team, the South Mound also regained a short trail network that allows hiker and bikers to explore the rocky wooded areas along the rim and steep slopes of the mound.

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Flag & playground on the South Mound

In a patriotic spirit, the trail network is christened the “Old Glory Trail” and trail segments include the 0.34 mile Liberty Trail which traverses the rim of the mound, and a slightly longer loop trail lower on the hillside known as the Freedom Trail.  Both trails have a natural surface and the upper trail offers sweeping views off the side of the mound and some fun rocks and boulders for a little off-trail scrambling. Check out the map below for the trail location and route options.

Interview with Maggie, the winner of our Flint Hills Nature Trail Challenge

We put out our Flint Hills Nature Trail Challenge, and this September, Maggie and Carrie were the first to complete it! It was actually our original challenge post that inspired their trip, which is a pretty big honor!

All photos by Maggie.

We reached out to Maggie to find out more about her trip, and here’s what we learned:

What was it that inspired you to hike the Flint Hills Nature Trail?

My research inspired me to hike the FHNT.  It begins in the early spring, my obsessive need to find that perfect off the beaten path trail.  By late summer/early fall I’m all set and embarking on my new journey.

I must admit though, the challenge posted for this particular trail peaked my interest.   There are not many firsts in life, snatch them up while you can!

Did you have a favorite part along the way?

It’s hard to chose a favorite part of the FHNT.  Every section is so diverse in its beauty.  From the deep shaded forest to the picturesque prairie and all the fresh farmland in between.  It makes it impossible to pick just one.

Were there any parts that needed to be worked on in terms of building?14333639_10154485147534547_2785065765529463476_n

There were some underdeveloped sections of the trail, but even those held breathtaking beauty.

I feel that the trail council, friends of the trail and all the volunteers are doing a great job maintaining and developing the trail.  It takes time and money, but it will just keep getting better!

We’ve had a lot of people ask us at our readings about camping along the trail. Where were you able to spend the night while you were on the trail?

Camping along the trail is prohibited.  I’m not sure if that rule will eventually change with development,  but I believe trail shelters would be a major improvement. (**Side note – we agree!**) That way you could still be in control of where trail users camped, but give the hikers especially a more realistic day and mileage to cover in between.

As it stands now, anyone thru hiking this trail will have to plan accordingly to make their miles in between public campgrounds.  It doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for mother nature, failed gear, accidents or just exhaustion.

Who would you recommend try the FHNT?

I would recommend the FHNT to anyone.  This trail quickly made my top ten and is perfect for beginners and veterans alike.14237628_10154473083099547_2977704645742298232_n

How long did it take start to finish?

It took Carrie and I nine days to thru hike this trail.  We had quite a time locating trailheads and safe parking that first day, putting us off to a late afternoon start and only gaining 8 miles.  We walked off the trail in Herington the following Thursday around six in the evening,  and headed straight to Subway!

Any hazards along the trail?

We didn’t encounter any hazards along this trail that aren’t the norm on any trail.  The usual down trees, rickety bridges on the list for repairs, and wildlife with the occasional predator.

Any advice to those who want to try thru-hiking the FHNT?

My advice to anyone wanting to thru hike the FHNT would be do your research and make a plan.  This trail is unique with its no camping on the trail rule.  This will make your hike even more challenging and add some side miles.

GPS will become your best friend, for many miles of the trail are not marked, especially near towns.

However, the rewards of this trail definitely outweigh the obstacles.

Run or bike the first ever Bridge to Bridge event 9/17/16

The first ever Tour de Trails 5k will be this Saturday — 9/17/16. Hosted by the Central Kansas Conservancy, the race will be held start north of the railroad bridge on the Valkommen trail in Lindsborg and then moves onto the Meadowlark Trail.

The Meadowlark Trail, on the former Union Pacific railroad corridor, stretches 13 miles from McPherson to Lindsborg, though you won’t have to go the full length for this race.

There’s a 5k for runners as well as a 5k for cyclists. Here’s the schedule:

9:00 – 9:45 – Registration/Packet Pick up

10:00 – Bike Event Starts

10:10 – Runners/Walkers Event Starts

11:00-12:00 – Finish Line Festivities Enjoy Refreshments and Give-a-Ways!

Registration is $15 and you can sign up here.

Flint Hills Nature Trail Challenge On The Verge of Completion!

Flint Hills Nature Trail

Flint Hills Nature Trail near Council Grove

Our challenge to thru-hike the Flint Hills Nature Trail has been accepted, and is on the verge of being completed! Follow the final legs of the trip on the Kanza Rail Trails Conservancy Facebook Group. We’ll post a complete story as soon as the journey is completed, cheer on Maggie Reather as she hikes on towards Council Grove! #FHNT

Great Outdoors Month is Here!

Great Outdoors Month is Here!

State governors across the country have declared June as “Great Outdoors Month”!  While we don’t need a declaration from the governor to celebrate the best of outdoor Kansas, it’s a good excuse to get out and enjoy the best of what the state has to offer.  To celebrate, El Dorado State Park will host the “Governor’s Campout” on June 18th.  There are some awesome events lined out for the day, including kayaking and canoeing, archery, natural history programs, horse rides, and even a fishing clinic!  If that’s not enough, don’t forget the Boulder Bluff Trail, which crosses open expanses of prairie as it winds around the coves and inlets of the reservoir.

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Boulder Bluff Trail

The party will continue into Saturday evening with more events, door prizes, Dutch Oven cooking and of course camping.  If you’re interested in camping out as part of the event, make sure to contact Kati Westerhaus at 620-672-0740 or emailing Kati.westerhaus@ksoutdoors.com to pre-register.  Click here for more information about the event.