Rails-to-Trails

Landon Nature Trail

The Landon Nature Trail is on nearly 40 miles of the former Missouri-Pacific Railroad linking Topeka’s Shunga Trail, southward, to Lomax Junction, and to the Flint Hills Nature Trail just east of Pomona Lake in Osage County. This historic rail corridor is now being developed as a trail and wildlife area open to the public for non-motorized use. Visitors are invited to come out and enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, running, horseback riding, and experience some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Midwest.

The 38-mile Landon Nature trail is a particularly scenic recreational trail stretching from the popular Shunga Trail in Topeka to the Clinton Wildlife Area, Pomona Lake and on to the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail near Quenemo. The trail will be the only recreational trail in America to link the Oregon National Historic Trail with the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. In the North, this remarkable trail follows picturesque Camp Creek with its clear, rushing water and wooded oak-hickory covered hills which provide a shady tree canopy for trail users. It should also be noted that the nature trail passes by two wetlands teeming with waterfowl, native tallgrass prairie blooming with wildflowers and two lovely waterfalls. In fact, the land surrounding the Swissvale Waterfall lies within the corridor and can be turned into a picnic area.

The trail crosses the Santa Fe Trail north of Overbrook and a side trail could be built to view trail ruts in southeast Overbrook. North of its southern terminus at Lomax, lies the historic 240-feet-long steel truss bridge over 110 Mile Creek. Very few trails in the Midwest offer the variety of scenery and history provided by the Landon Nature Trail.

The Kanza Rails-Trails Conservancy continues to build and maintain the trails, which are open to equestrian use.

The Landon Nature trail runs about 38 miles between Topeka and Lomax (south of Pomona Lake). Parking area on 53rd Street, between Hwy 75 and SE Adams Street in Topeka.  Call 785-608-8221 for trail information.

For information on current maps showing open sections of trail, visit http://kanzatrails.org and join Kanza Rail Trails Conservancy on Facebook.

 

Flint Hills Nature Trail

The Flint Hills Nature Trail stretches 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. The trail crosses the beautiful Flint Hills, which represent one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. It is home to abundant plant and wildlife species, spectacular views, national historic sites, and a diverse set of recreational        areas. The eastern portions travel along 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.

The Flint Hills Nature Trail is built on old railroad corridor developed in the late 1880s as the Council Grove, Osage City & Ottawa Railway. It later became the Missouri Pacific Railroad, which discontinued rail service in the 1980s. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy acquired and railbanked the corridor in 1995 and later transferred ownership to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy. The KRTC had 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. In 2013, the Conservancy partnered with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism to accept a Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternatives Grant to move ahead more quickly with development. This and subsequent grants have allowed significant progress. The trail is now open from Osawatomie to Council Grove, but some portions may be temporarily closed as renovation activities take place. There are places, mostly in towns, where equestrian use is prohibited. Also, a very active railway runs adjacent to the trail for several miles west of Ottawa. Equestrians might want to avoid this area or be prepared for train whistles and cars going by. Many places along the trail cross active county or state roads.

The Flint Hill Nature Trail runs about 117 miles from Osawatomie to Herington.   Parking available at Rantoul, Vassar, and Council Grove. Call 785-466-1417 for info on west half of trail, or 785-755-4129 for info on east half of trail.

Camping is available at Salt Creek Ranch east of Lyndon, 785-215-2296 or 785-215-4708; at Eisenhower State Park, Melvern Lake, 785-528-4102; or Pomona State Park, 785-828-4933.