FLINT HILLS TRAIL
The Flint Hills Trail stretches for 118 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.
As its name suggests, the trail crosses the beautiful Flint Hills. The Flint Hills represent one of the last remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystems in the world. It is home to abundant prairie plant and wildlife species, spectacular views, national historic sites, and a diverse set of recreational areas. The eastern portions of the route travels alongside the Marais Des Cygnes River, between rushing waters and towering bluffs, through rolling farmland and riparian woodlands.
The Flint Hills Trail is the eighth-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.
You can also view online maps (and download GPS tracks) from:
Ride with GPS *With this map trail users can see the milepost locations, access point locations, locations of trail conditions, and locations of services and businesses. If we put a link to this map at the top of each of the respective map pages, condition report page, access point page, and services page, all this information can be had with just one click on the link to view the map. A free basic ride with GPS account can be created and this will allow you to save the map to your computer or phone to view at anytime without accessing this website and you can even send it to your GPS device.
To report a problem on the trail:
Trent McCown, Manager, Kansas Prairie Spirit Rail Trail Park
785-448-2627 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Please do not park on the trail. Leave room for emergency and maintenance vehicles to access the trail. Thank you!
Osawatomie: Go south on 12th street to the end of the street. Turn Right (West) to access the trailhead and parking. The parking area is large enough to accommodate horse trailers.
Rantoul: The parking area is large enough to accommodate horse trailers.
Ottawa: The Flint Hills Trail and the Prairie Spirit Trail intersect at 1st and Walnut in Ottawa. The Flint Hills Trail goes east and west, the Prairie Spirit Trail goes south. Parking is available at Legacy Square or the Old Depot, which is the Trailhead/information center for the Prairie Spirit Trail. The trail can also be accessed at East 7th Street or the Orlis Cox ballfields on the western edge of Ottawa. No overnight parking at Legacy Square. For overnight parking use the Old Depot Museum.
Pomona: South Colorado Rd./ Main St. Large parking area, restrooms, picnic shelter, no water. Parking lot large enough to accommodate horse trailers.
Vassar: Intersection of Ottawa St. and Front St. Parking.
Osage City: East of Martin St. (k-31 Hwy) along the edge of trail. Parking at the Kaw Park for cars, but not trailers. Please don’t block the trail.
Admire: Parking at 4th and Main.
Allen: Parking at Rd. L and 3rd St.
Miller: One block south on Rd. W 7. Large parking lot.
Bushong: Road F & Second St. Parking. Room for horse trailer parking.
S.200 Rd: Parking available.
Council Grove: Allegawaho Park (X Ave. & S. 525 Rd.). Parking.
Council Grove: Walnut Street & Donnon St. Parking.
The Flint Hills Trail is built on an old railroad corridor. The route was originally developed in the late 1880s, as the Council Grove, Osage City & Ottawa Railway. It later became the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
MoPac discontinued railway service on the line in the 1980s, was subsequently abandoned. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy acquired and railbanked the corridor in 1995 and later transferred ownership to the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy.
The KRTC developed 60 miles of the trail in sections, where volunteers were available, and where grant funding and donations permitted the old corridor to be refurbished. Now the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is completing the trail which is now a state park.
The Flint Hills Trail was the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s “Trail of the Month” in March 2010. The RTC also features the Flint Hills Trail on their TrailLink site.
Did you know the Flint Hills Trail is the …
Longest trail in the Sunflower State (118 miles)
Eighth longest rail-trail in America
Part of coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail
Follows general route of Santa Fe National Historic Trail
An all-volunteer rails-to-trails project
Open to any non-motorized vehicles and horses
Open sunrise to sunset 365 days a year
Free to the public
Milepost 0 to 21.9 Trail is in good condition from Osawatomie to Ottawa
Milepost 21.9 to 24.3 Detour west of Ottawa on well marked gravel road!
Milepost 26.9 Busy highway crossing at K-68 Hwy
Milepost 44 to 44.5 Is undeveloped trail west of US 75 with a dirt surface. This can become muddy but tends to dry out quickly!
Milepost 51.8 to 52.8 Is detour through Osage City on Lakin St.!
Milepost 52.8 to 92.0 Trail in good condition from Osage City to Council Grove
Milepost 92.0 to 118.1 trail is undeveloped from Council Grove to Herington. Not open to the public.
SERVICES & BUSINESSES
The following list of services available along the Flint Hills Trail is listed in approximate west-to-east order:
Whistle Stop Cafe
6th and Chestnut
6th and Kelly
6th and Parker
La Hacienda Mexican
546 Main St.
Osawatomie City Lake Campground
3.5 miles NW of town at W 327th & Bethel Church Rd. From the trail go North on Pressonville Rd for 1.5 miles, then 2 miles East on W. 327th Rd.
Osawatomie John Brown Park
Picnic area, water, restrooms. 10th & Main
Mills House RV Park
125 North First St., Osawatomie, KS 66064
913-731-0100 Open Year-Round full hook-ups
Rantoul Soda Pop Machine
On McGinnis Avenue (Vermont Road), north of Main
Throughout town are located numerous convenience stores and fast food services.
Historic Downtown Ottawa
Victorian brick buildings house. Italian, Mexican and pizza restaurants. Plus, it is home to Legacy Square: where the Flint Hills and Prairie Spirit Trails meet.
Mug Shot Coffee
110 S Main St., Suite B
Enter in back from Legacy Square
Ottawa Bike & Trail
130 S. Main St. Ottawa 913-9451-1070
Will shuttle bikes and also do on-trail bike repairs.
Picnic area, water, restrooms. Go north on the Prairie Spirit Trail to Tecumseh St., then west to N. Locust, and then north to the park.
1641 Main St., Ottawa.
785-242-4842 | Visit Website
The Painted Lady B&B
704 S Cedar St., Ottawa
785-248-4573 | thepaintedladyks.com
Franklin County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Visitors Information Center
2011 E. Logan (Interstate 35 & Hwy 68, Exit 187), Ottawa, Kansas 66067
Camping is permitted behind the Franklin County Visitors Center
785-242-1411 | visitottawakansas.com
Amigos Mexican Restaurant
234 W. Franklin St.
K-68 & Monroe
K-68 & Truman
K-68 and Monroe
Pomona City Park
6 blocks north on Colorado and 2 blocks west.
Shelter house, picnic tables, water. No camping.
Salt Creek Ranch
Nestled in beautiful northeast Kansas near the Flint Hills region, Salt Creek Ranch specializes in trail rides and beginning and intermediate horsemanship lessons. Enjoy guided trail rides through open pastures sporting Wildflowers and wildlife. Schedule a ride through wooded trails at the ranch or along the Flint Hills Nature Trail! Take a break at the 1870’s cemetery surrounded by our farm. Wagon rides and campfire dinners available in cool weather. Excellent family experience and team building opportunities. Camping and bunkhouse space are available.
4215 E 245th St., Lyndon, KS 66451
785-828-3739 | YourEquineAdventure.com
Pomona Lake State Park
The Pomona Lake State Park is one of the most beautiful camping areas in the state. Numerous camping facilities, with or without hookups, are available year-round. Cabin rentals are also available. Access to the Pomona Lake State Park is only a couple miles from the Vassar Trail Head. Via highway, the state park is 1 mile north of K-268 on Paulen Road.
Lighthouse Bay Marina
Owned and operated by Bill & Shelley Hodgson, is located with-in the State Park at Pomona Lake in Vassar, Ks. Lighthouse Bay Marina is full service marina and has been located at Pomona Lake and family owned since the 1964.
785-828-4777 | lighthousebaymarina.net
Crossroads RV Park & Campground
23313 S. U.S. Hwy 75, Lyndon, KS 66451 (Located 2 miles north of Lyndon.)
Shaded by trees and surrounded by green rolling hills, woods, lakes and farmland.
(785) 221-5482 | crossroadsrvpark.com
Cilantro’s Mexican Grill
1715 Topeka Ave. (785) 828-3409
Located 2 miles south of trail
True Brew Coffee House
Coffee drinks, breakfast, lunch
804 Topeka Ave.
Located 21/2 miles south of trail
1304 Topeka Ave 785-828-3270
6am till 8pm. Closed Mondays
Located 2 miles south of trail
Osage City Santa Fe Park
Picnic area, water, restrooms
Behind Dollar General at the East end of Holliday Street.
Picnicking and camping. Shelter house, restrooms, water, lake.
Please call the Osage City Police Dept.at 785-528-3131 to tell them of your camping plans.
Henry’s Coffee House
Drinks and sandwiches
413 Market St.
Open 7am till 2 pm
Frances House B&B
1219 Laing St.
Tall Oak Inn
267 Lakin Street
785-249-9896 and 785-249-0914
Spacious cabin sits on a small farm in Osage City. One bedroom, two beds and one bath. Contact Cindy at 785-219-1280 or Maurice at 785-226-2341.
Two blocks North of trail on Market St. (located in the city Apark)
Free for tent camping. Restrooms, shelter house, grill.
For reservations: 620-366-1867 or 620-366-0501
Basecamp Flint Hills
205 W. Second, Allen
Camping, water, outdoor shower, power. By reservation only.
913-449-3339 | email@example.com
Allen City Park
Located in city park. Picnic shelter, grills, and restrooms. Tent camping allowed.
For information, call 620-528-3725
The Dive Restaurant
Tue 11am-2pm, Wed/Thu/Fri 11am-2pm, Sat 5pm-10pm
Allen Farmers Market
May-October Thursdays 4pm-6:30pm
Allen Meat Processing
Groceries and snacks
Bushong City Park
South of US 56 on Americus Rd. Located in city park (on 4th St.)
For information, call the city clerk at 620-794-0850.
Tent camping allowed. Shelter house/picnic and grill.
City Park of Herington Campground
Herington City Park. Full Hook-ups, pull-through sites. cityofherington.com
Bradford Guest House (1860)
307 E. Main, Council Grove. 785-466-6588
Trails Day Cafe--Council Grove
Located in historic 1862 stone building at 803 West Main St.
American Indian, Old World, Early American, and 20th Century foods that are made the old fashioned way–from scratch.
(620) 767-7986 | traildayscafeandmuseum.org
Cottage Hill Bed and Breakfast
25 N Neosho, Council Grove, KS, USA
Downtown Council Grove https://www.airbnb.com/
Council Grove Camping Facilities
Kit Carson Cove Campgrounds and Santa Fe Trail Campgrounds at Council Grove Lake (2 miles north on Lake Road).
Official Council Grove Lake Website
Council Grove Fairgrounds Park
650 N Union S (north of swimming pool)
Council Grove City Park
Located at 3rd & W. Main St. (one block north of trail)
Picnic shelter, restrooms, water
The Crowley Suite AirBnB
204 W. Main St., Council Grove
Allegawaho Heritage Memorial Park
Dunlap Road & X Avenue (3 mi. SE of Council Grove)
Free campsites with picnic tables, grills.
FEATURES ALONG THE TRAIL
Hobo Hill—hobos would hop aboard empty box cars pulled by steam trains when the trains slowed down while going up the hill west of Quenemo. There is a large rock with names carved into it. Located on north side of trail.
Rock Creek Bridge—this 400-foot-long bridge crosses scenic, clear Rock Creek three miles southeast of Allegawaho Heritage Park. It is the longest bridge on the trail.
William M. Mills House (1902) — William Mills was one of the first oilmen in Kansas. The Queen Anne style house was designed by the famous architect, George Barber, and cost $49,000 to build. It has 7,000 square feet, 9 fireplaces, elaborate woodwork, and ornamental ceilings. On the National Register of Historic Places. Private property.
Adair Cabin (1854) — The John Brown Museum contains the cabin used by abolitionist John Brown as his headquarters during Bleeding Kansas. Located in Osawatomie’s John Brown Park which also contains a statue of Brown. It is part of the John Brown Historic District.
Old Stone Church (1861) — This historic church has been refurbished with original hand-hewn pews and altar chairs. Located in Osawatomie.
Old Land Office (1854) — This refurbished land office now serves as a tourist information center. Located in Osawatomie.
Osawatomie Railroad Museum — Railroads reached Osawatomie in 1879 with the St. Louis-Kansas-Arizona line, which became the Missouri Pacific and later the Union Pacific. Today, the railroad’s influence is best appreciated at the museum, which houses many artifacts of the city’s early history. A replica Union Pacific Depot was built for the railroad history collection.
Marais Des Cygnes River — French explorers named it the “Marsh of the Swans” River. The trail follows this scenic river with its wooded bluffs between Ottawa and Osawatomie.
Red Oak Bluff — Located approximately two miles southeast of Rantoul and high above the Marais Des Cygnes River and the trail.
Brown’s Station Site — The only cabin built by John Brown was constructed in 1855 for his son-in-law Orson Day, Esq. Pro-slavery men burned it to the ground on June 6, 1856. The log cabin was located 1 mile south and 3/4 mile west of Rantoul. On private property.
Fort Scott/California Trail Crossing — The Fort Scott/California Trail crossed the FHNT east of Ottawa.
Tauy Jones House (1867) — Located on original site of a 1843 trading post. Rev. John “Tauy” Jones was a Chippewa Indian who built this sandstone house which was visited by the famous journalist and presidential candidate Horace Greeley. The house is a two-story Plains Vernacular structure with walls of cut stone 34” thick. Jones was a close friend of John Brown and helped Brown and his men defend Lawrence in 1856. The house later served as school for Ottawa Indians. On the National Register of Historic Places. Located 4 miles north of trail on Nevada Road. Not open to public.
Old Depot Museum (1888) — Trailhead for the Prairie Spirit Trail in Ottawa and can also serve as a trailhead for the FHNT. One of the highlights of the museum is a display relating to this region of Bleeding Kansas and abolitionist John Brown. On the National Register of Historic Places.
Swamp White Oak Champion Tree — The largest Swamp White Oak in Kansas is located in Forest Park in Ottawa near the trail. It is 13’ in circumference and 78’ in height.
Appanoose Creek Bridge — This 240-foot-long railroad bridge spans Appanoose Creek 3.5 miles west of Ottawa. The beautiful bridge has a steel truss beam center supported by cut white limestone block pilings.
Chippewa Hills — Rugged, wooded hills three miles south of Richter on the site of the former Chippewa Indian Reservation. The Chippewa Church camp perched on top of the hills is open to public for hiking and picnicking ($5 per person fee).
1839 Chippewa Indian Burial Grounds — Indian burial grounds open to public. 4 miles SE of Richter (west of Ottawa). Located on the former Chippewa Indian Reservation.
White Poplar Champion Tree — The largest White Poplar tree in Kansas is located in Pomona and is 15’ in circumference and 75’ in height.
Pomona Fruit Company Historic Site — About 1869, John H. Whetstone, came to control 12,000 to 15,000 acres lying north of the Marais des Cygnes river after the removal of the Sac and Fox Indians. He then founded Pomona (named after the Roman goddess of fruit) on former Sac and Fox land using certain principles for the colonists (ability to acquire land was based on the colonist having good moral character and pledging no alcoholic beverages). At first Whetstone planted 400 acres to apples and became the “Apple King” of Franklin County. In 1898, he planted 30,000 fruit trees. His Pomona Fruit Company made jellies, preserves and jams and distributed them nationwide, but discontinued by 1922. Remnants of the orchards may still be present.
Jesse James Cave — According to legend, outlaw Jesse James and his gang would use this large rock overhang as a hideout in the 1860s and 1870s. Located two miles south of Pomona town and the trail; on private land, but open to public.
Appanoose Creek Massacre Historic Site — According to one account, a band of 30 anti-slavery men from Lawrence (a group of secret Danites founded by Abolitionist James Lane) led by Capt. Charles Leonhardt, massacred 22 members of the pro-slavery Shannon’s Guard camped at night along Appanoose Creek in the 1856. Located 4 miles north of trail on Nevada Road.
110 Mile Creek Bridge — This 240-foot-long railroad bridge spans 110 Mile Creek and consists of a unique design of steel gusset and beam construction. Located west of Pomona town.
110 Mile Creek Bridge II — This 280-foot-long railroad bridge is on the Landon Nature Trail and also spans 110 Mile Creek. It features overhead lattice steel beam girders supported by cut white limestone pilings. Absolutely a great piece of railroad history. Located one mile north of the trail on the Landon Trail, northeast of Quenemo.
Quenemo Wetlands — 10 acres of re-created wetlands west of K-68 north of Quenemo. Water in the wetlands is seasonal. The Conservancy’s old railroad bed makes the berm to hold the water.
Rattlesnake Hill — This was an early rendezvous and lookout for the Sac and Fox Indians who were located on a reservation here from 1845-69. The Sac and Fox agency was in Quenemo. A band of about 100 of the Indians remained in the area until about 1886. The tallgrass-covered hill is located just north of the trail on the Osage-Franklin county line. On private property.
Osage County Railroad & Mining Museum — Located in a unique brick and stucco Santa Fe Depot (1911) in Osage City. Osage County was once coal mining country. On the National Register of Historic Places.
White Eagle Gas Station (1927) — A restored, old-fashioned gas station in Osage City. The two star features of the station are the eagle statue and glass globe gas pump.
Weeping Willow Champion Tree — The largest Weeping Willow tree in Kansas is located in Osage City and is 14’ in circumference and 53’ in height.
Rapp Schoolhouse — Located about a half mile north of the trail, midway between Osage City and Miller, the Rapp Schoolhouse, 1871-1962, is one of the few one-room eight-grade schoolhouses in Kansas that still has its original desk and textbooks. Designated a National and State Historic Site. [Learn More]
Tallgrass Prairie — Several tracts along the trail west of Bushong in the Flint Hills which contain the largest remaining expanse of tallgrass prairie in North America. Some are owned by the Conservancy.
Singleton’s Dunlap Colony Historic Site (1878) — 200 Black Exodusters settled this area in 1878. Benjamin “Pap” Singleton was known as the “Father of the African American Exodus”. Because Kansas was famous for John Brown’s efforts and its struggle against slavery, Singleton considered the state a New Canaan, and he, like a “Black Moses,” would lead his people to the Promised Land. Singleton traveled through the South organizing parties to colonize in Kansas. He directly established two Black communities in Kansas including Dunlap and one in Cherokee County plus was instrumental in the founding of Nicodemus. Today, Dunlap’s black history exists only in a few places — in the Black cemetery and the dilapidated old Baptist Church. Located two miles south of the trail southeast of Council Grove.
Allegawaho (Kaw) Heritage Park — This 168-acre park owned by the Kaw Nation, contains historic Kaw Agency building ruins, Kaw house ruins, the Monument to the Unknown Indian on a tallgrass-covered hill, and walking trails. The Kaw Indians lived in this area until they were forcibly removed to Indian Territory in the 1870s. The park is named after an important Kaw Indian chief. Located SE of Council Grove and adjacent to FHNT. Open to public.
Hays House (1857) — Oldest restaurant west of Mississippi in continuous operation. Founded by Seth Hays, the first settler in Council Grove and great grandson of Daniel Boone. Other famous people associated with Council Grove include explorer John C. Fremont, scout Kit Carson, General George Armstrong Custer, and the Kaw Indian chief Allegawaho.
Pioneer Jail/Old Calaboose (1849) — This primitive but quaint jail was used by wagon train travelers on the Santa Fe Trail and local settlers to hold robbers, horse thieves, ruffians and desperadoes. Located in Council Grove.
Last Chance Store (1857) — Last place for travelers going to Santa Fe to get supplies on the Santa Fe Trail. Located in Council Grove. On National Register of Historic Places.
Kaw Indian Mission (1851)— established as a school for Kaw Indians, it also served as the first Kansas school for white children. A state historic site located in Council Grove.
Terwilliger House (1861) — Located right on the Santa Fe Trail. There is a museum and Trail Days Café. It was the last house the Santa Fe Trail freighters passed as they left town going west.
Conn Stone Store (1858) — Built by Malcom Conn, the store was one of the two most important trading posts in Council Grove and received business from Santa Fe Trail travelers, Kaw Indians and local settlers.
Custer-Sample house (1889) — Built by M.K. Sample on land once owned by George Armstrong Custer who once frequented the Council Grove area. In 1869 Custer purchased 120 acres surrounding the park which was his favorite place to camp when in the vicinity.
Historic Cottonwood Tree (1803) — Located in the city park on E. Valley Street.
Historic Bur Oak (1773) — Located in the swimming pool park in Council Grove. The original grove of trees for which the town was named was a mile in width and contained a variety of species.
Historic Bur Oak (1802) — Located in the swimming pool park in Council Grove.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve — Located eight miles south of the trail. The park consists of 11,000 acres covered with bluestem, Indian grass, switchgrass as well as a myriad of wildflowers. Visible limestone flint layers. Bison may be viewed. A side trail could be built from the FHNT to the preserve.
Santa Fe National Historic Trail — One branch of the Santa Fe Trail closely follows the trail and Elm Creek southwest from Council Grove for about nine miles. The historic trail crosses the FHNT southeast of Wilsey. Santa Fe Trail Swales or Ruts can be seen west of Council Grove 2.5 miles on Helmick Rd.
Bluestem Prairie — A 13-acre strip of tallgrass prairie owned by the Conservancy is hayed annually. Located three miles east of Herington. Open to public for wildflower viewing and walking only.
Diamond Spring — Was one of the most widely-known camping sites and an important landmark on the Santa Fe Trail. Located two miles south of the trail on 2200 Rd. Flows into Diamond Creek. On the National Register of Historic Places. On private property.
Six Mile Creek Stage Station Historic District — Remains of the station building, a barn and original well plus four Santa Fe Trail ruts. The stage operated from 1863-67. The trail crossing was used from 1822 to about 1870. Located four miles south of the trail on 2800 Rd. in Morris County.
Herington Historical Museum — Among the collection of historical artifacts on display are vintage fashions and home furnishings, military uniforms, medical and farm equipment. A Rock Island baggage car museum annex houses railroad memorabilia.
Padilla Monument — A monument to the first Christian martyr in what is now the United States stands in Herington’s Father Padilla Memorial Park. Fr. Juan de Padilla was killed by American Indians in his efforts to convert them, often at sword point. Also in the park is the largest Common Baldcypress tree in Kansas which is 17’ in circumference.