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Prairie Spirit Rail Trail State Park

Kansas’ first state-managed rail trail, Prairie Spirit Trail State Park gives users a 51-mile tour through tallgrass prairie, woodlands, agricultural fields and eight small rural communities with country hospitality. The trail is eight feet wide, limestone screening surfaced except in Garnett, Iola and Ottawa where it is asphalt. It connects with a network of trails including the Flint Hills Trail State Park (117 miles) and the Southwind Trail (9 miles).

photo: Prairie Spirit Trail in Fall

Length: 51.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Rail Trail
Agency: State
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Bicycling (on pavement)
Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Fishing
Heritage and History
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Roller/Inline Skating
Skateboarding
Snow - Cross-country Skiing
Wildlife Observation

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Location: Ottawa to Iola in Kansas
State(s):
Counties: Franklin, Anderson, Allen
Longitude: -95.27
Latitude: 38.620361

Driving Directions

Many access points near Highway 59, from Ottawa, KS, to Garnett KS, and near Highway 169 from Garnett, KS, to Iola, KS

Description

The Prairie Spirit Trail State Park pioneered rail-trail management in the state, overcoming considerable opposition in the beginning to become an important quality of life and health benefit resource for the communities. The trail has provided an economic benefit, as well as being a valued community partner. In the early 90’s when the trail began, some of the communities through which it passes were having economic difficulties. Thanks in part to the state’s investment in the trail, and local communities concentrating on quality of life development, the communities have seen positive growth. Several restaurants and bed and breakfasts have opened adjacent to the trail. A bicycle shop has a thriving business that includes ride services. Many community events focus on the trail and it hosts many races and other events annually, including the 50 and 100 mile ultra-marathon. Due to the intersection of the Prairie Spirit with the Flint Hills and Southwind trails, users of the Prairie Spirit trail have access to well over 150 miles of trail, with more trails connecting all the time. Development of this network of trails has led to an explosion of communities wanting to continue their trails and connect them. It’s the beginning of a network crisscrossing the State of Kansas and connecting to Nebraska and Missouri trails. Ultimately, these trails will be part of a nationwide network. Besides the interconnectivity, the trail is valuable as a local resource. Citizens of all ages use the trail for daily exercise and social interaction. Communities have sited play stations at intervals adjacent to the trail in their cities, encouraging exercise and play at the same time. Where the Prairie Spirit and Flint Hills trails intersect in Ottawa, Kansas, the community has raised funds for a $4 million investment in a community gathering place, with plans for farmer’s markets and community concerts, with a restroom and showers to serve trail users. In Garnett, the trail connects a city park at the north end of town with one on the south end, both of which allow camping, and both have seen increased visitation due to the trail. Where the trail runs alongside the fairgrounds in Ottawa, it provides a safe walking and cycling access for visitors. The experience gained during the development of the Prairie Spirit Trail has equipped the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to better manage development of the 117-mile Flint Hills Trail State Park. Prairie Spirit Trail started this ball rolling and the momentum continues to grow. From the beginning of the route prior to the Civil War to today, the trail route has provided a vital transportation and social corridor.

Additional Details

Width: 96 inches.
Primary Surface: Crushed Rock
Secondary Surface: Asphalt

Average Grade: 1%
Maximum Grade: 5%
Elevation Low Point: 863
Elevation High Point: 1,148
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:
2020

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Brochure: Brochure for Prairie Spirit Rail Trail State Park

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Public Contact:
Trent McCown
Park Manager
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
419 S. Oak
Garnett, KS 66032
(785) 448-2627
[email protected]

Trail Management:
Trent McCown
Kansas Dept.of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism
419 S. Oak
Garnett, KS 66032
(785) 448-2627
[email protected]

 

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