At the heart of America, Kansas may seem like endless fields of corn, wheat, and hay; but for hikers, the Sunflower State is so much more: rolling green hills, woodlands, and lakes abound if you know where to look. With recommendations from Trails.com and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism we've highlighted five great hikes that show off some of the state's best landscapes.
Prairie Spirit Trail
The Prairie Spirit Trail is a 51-mile linear park that follows the original rail bed of the old Leavenworth, Lawrence and Fort Gibson railroads through three counties from Iola to Ottawa. This peaceful greenway offers hikers the chance to explore a range of landscapes, including farmlands, rural communities, riparian areas, and tallgrass prairies.
North Shore Trail
The 23-mile North Shore Trail takes hikers through a scenic oak and hickory forest in Clinton State Park. The three sections are marked blue (7.9 mi.), white (12.8 mi.), and red (1.2 mi.), and run along the north shore of a large lake, which you can access from several points along the trail.
Lawrence Riverfront Park Trails
Ten miles of dirt trails run throughout the Lawrence Riverfront Park, a city-owned wildlife area on the north side of the Kansas River. These trails treat hikers to scenes of native grasses, shrubs, and trees, and offer many chances to see nesting birds, ducks, and a resident flock of Canadian geese.
Saddle Ridge Trail System
Four loops make up Hillsdale State Park's 49-mile Saddle Ridge Trail System (NW blue trail, SE red trail, SW red trail, and Outlet Blue Loop), which treats hikers to breathtaking views of classic Kansas wilderness. These trails wind through deep valleys, forest-covered hills, prairies, and meadows, and explorers will probably see some native wildlife.
Flint Hills Nature Trail
You can hike up to 117 miles of the scenic Flint Hills Nature Trail, which runs through five Kansas counties (Miami, Franklin, Osage, Lyon, and Morris) from Osawatomie to Herington. Aside from offering beautiful views, The Flint Hills Nature Trail is the 7th longest rail-trail in America, home to one of the world's last tallgrass prairie ecosystems, and is the longest hike in the state.