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Prairie Spirit Trail State Park Field Guide

About the Prairie Spirit Trail

The Prairie Spirit Trail State Park in Kansas is a scenic recreational trail with a rich history rooted in the state's railroad heritage. The trail follows a former railroad corridor originally built by the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston Railroad in the 1860s, later becoming part of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway network. When the railway ceased operations in the late 20th century, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, in collaboration with local communities and conservation groups, transformed the abandoned rail line into a multi-use trail. Officially opened in 1996, the Prairie Spirit Trail stretches over 50 miles from Ottawa to Iola, offering hikers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts a unique way to explore the diverse landscapes of eastern Kansas while preserving a piece of the state's transportation history.

The trail visits the towns of Ottawa, Princeton, Richmond, Garnett, Welda, Colony, and Iola. The Prairie Spirit Trail connects with the Southward Trail in Iola which extends the rideable rail-trail to Humboldt.

Interactive Maps:

The map above is hosted on Ride With GPS.  It contains markers for all of the points of interest along the trail.  This includes lodging, trail heads, cities and towns, coffee shops, breweries, convenience stores, and other trail friendly businesses.  You can download the map to your GPS device or phone.  You can also print the map along with this guide to take with you on the trail.

Trail Conditions:

The Prairie Spirit Trail State Park is mostly well maintained rail-trail with hard-packed crushed stone surface. As with any trail the weather conditions play a role in surface conditions. You’ll find that the trail surface is very forgiving and can usually be ridden during, or shortly after, normal rainfall. The trail may become muddy or soft in places after extended rainfall or during snow melt. Please refrain from riding the trail if your tires leave visable marks on the trail surface.

Much of the trail is tree covered and can become blocked by branches or obstructed until the trail is cleared by volunteers. If you come across branches or debres on the trail please do your part and clear the trail for other riders.

Small sections of the trail can get washed out or may still need some work. As with any trail you may encounter ballast, gravel, ruts, holes, stickers, or wet and muddy patches. You may also encounter temporary closures or markers indicating that the trail is being worked on.

You should always stay alert and pay attention to changing trail conditions.

Reporting a Problem on the Trail

To report a problem on the trail call the State Park Office at:  785-448-2627

Wildlife on the Trail

Wildlife on the trail includes whitetail deer, bobwhite quail, wild turkeys, prairie chickens, and bobcats.  Also, a wide variety of migratory birds, waterfowl, and butterflies can be spotted throughout the year.

Where to Stay

Other camping spots:


Garnett offers multiple camping options at North Lake Park and Crystal Lake Park just south of town.  Both lakes are adjacent to the trail.  

Advanced reservations are required through the City. Pass (Prices for 2 nights total): $50, $25/night. ​​ If you need assistance please call the Rec Center - 785-448-3023.


Iola RV Park and Storage offers tent camping.  Cost is $10 per night.  Call to make reservations.


Base Camp Humboldt has multiple cabins and mini-A-frames for rent. They are located right on the trail just north of Humboldt.  They can be reserved on HipCamp. 

Other Options:

Several of the towns along trail also offer camping in parks or grassy areas around county or city buildings.  For example, The Franklin County visitor’s center in Ottawa allows tent camping in the lawn behind their building.  This location is 1.5 miles from the trial and there are not facilities.


Hotel, AirBnB, Bed and Breakfast options exist primarily in Ottawa, Garnett, and Iola.  New lodging options continue to be available as the popularity of the trail increases.



Legacy Square is a parking, recreation, and event facility in Ottawa at the intersection of the Flint Hills Trail and the Prairie Spirit Trail State Parks.  Overnight parking is allowed.  


The Sante Fe Depot in Garnett is the best place to park and access the trail. Overnight parking Is allowed.  


Cofachique Park is is a good place to park.  Overnight parking is allowed. 

Points of Interest:

There are many points of interest along the trail.  You'll find many of them on the interactive Flint Hills Trail Map above.


Flint Hills Trail State Park Photo

Flint Hills Trail State Park Field Guide

The Flint Hills Trail State Park is a the longest rail-trail in Kansas and an incredible natural resource for the region. We want to be your one-stop resource for trail information and knowledge. Our Field Guide contains all of the information you need to make the most of your visit including trail heads, parking, camping, points of interest and more.

View the Field Guide
prairie spirit trail Garnett

Prairie Spirit Trail State Park Field Guide

The Prairie Spirit Trail State Park is unique and equally as beautiful and interesting as the Flint Hills Trail. We can provide information and support to help you enjoy your visit.

View the Guide

Recommended Gravel Routes

Franklin County has some of the finest gravel roads you'll find anywhere in Kansas. We've developed a full list of gravel routes for you to enjoy.

View the Routes

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