rebelLT, 2012-03-27 08:02:34
I am planning a ride for mid April and was wondering if the Flint Hills trail connects fairly easily to the Prairie Spirit Trail. I can’t find much info about the connection on the net. It looks to me like I would have to make my way west through Ottawa on city streets for a couple of city blocks and this is acceptable as I plan on stopping in Ottawa for a few hours anyway. My tentative plan is to start early near Osawatomie and stop in Ottawa for lunch and some distractions. I plan on staying overnight in Garnett and making Iola the next morning. I will be riding a cruiser tandem with a ten year old girl so we only manage about 8 MPH on such trips to do to the multiple stops for rest/water/fuel/distractions required. We travel fairly light with only one rack bag and a handlebar bar for water/snacks/and essentials so I am assuming there will be some access to water along the way. Has anyone ridden this route before? Any suggestions?
Timon of Athens, 2012-03-27 08:45:21
Hello rebelLT.

The best Flint Hills Connection in Ottawa is at 7th Street. If you are coming from Osawatomie it’s where the trail kind of ends. Just turn left and enjoy a low traffic residential street for several blocks. After a stoplight, you will run into the PST. If you want to see downtown Ottawa, turn right. Otherwise, there will be plenty of places to rest/eat on the south edge of town.

As for provisions, they are few and far between on the FHNT. Make sure you have plenty of water for the 18 miles to Ottawa. Your best shot for provisions along the way is in Rantoul. There is a small metal building with several vending machines on Vermont Rd. Once you hit the PST there is water at most trailheads and plenty of other places for food.

Hope this helps.

my_bicycle_saved_me, 2012-03-27 18:34:09

This is interesting to me, I am interested to check out this trail (at least the 18 miles that, to my understanding, has a consistency similar to the PST and connects Ottawa to Osawatomie – is my understanding correct?)

Where at 7th street (or where-ish) does the FHNT intersect 7th in Ottawa? What’s the cross road or a near cross road? Do I understand correctly that if I turn left (west) onto 7th from Main Street, that the FHNT will be on my right at some point?

Thanks in advance for the help and rebelLT, thanks for the question. I’d heard of the FHNT previously but never really looked much into it.


Timon of Athens, 2012-03-27 20:00:29
Well MBSM,

The closest cross road South Mason Street. You can check out the map at

The map also shows you where the trail should cross the PST in the future when the city completes the trail through town.

The surface is quite similar to the PST in most places and it’s flatter! There are one or two places that have been plowed under by farmers at one time so it is like you are pedaling across a field. Otherwise, it is quite enjoyable. The sections that follow the Marais de Cygnes are pretty wonderful and offer better shade than the PST.

Hope this helps.

JD_Shawnee, 2012-03-27 20:08:17
We assume you’re from Osawatomie or you guys will have a support vehicle with you. Otherwise, parking there could be a problem since the trail’s entrance gate is about 2-miles out from town on John Brown Road. It is remote, not lit, not a real trailhead, and probably not patrolled. Not good. Parking in Osawatomie might be best in patrolled areas in town or at the high-school?

Other info: when turning west on 7th Street in Ottawa, you’ll intersect the PST trail straight west on 7th Street about 2-blocks west of Main. You’ll see the business district at Main.

Also, some of the earlier FHNT websites have been recently combined with less info and fewer maps. But this section between Osawatomie and Ottawa is a decent trail, lots of nature there. It is hard-packed, but not as wide or well-crowned as the PST. A good place to train for the PST. Additionally, the cafe at Rantoul is open only on weekends, Fri evening thru Sunday lunch, last heard last year.

Best places to eat on the PST are in Ottawa, Garnett, Colony, and Iola with a few convenience stops between.

I’m currently training for both trails. jd

my_bicycle_saved_me, 2012-03-28 08:34:46
Ok I got it, thanks guys. I had it exactly backward – rather than turn west off of Main to meet up with the FHNT, you turn east.

I scouted it out this morning before work (granted, nearly dark out so I couldn’t tell too much). For those interested, after you come off the FHNT into Ottawa, as TofA mentioned above, you turn left (which is west) headed toward town. You’ll go a few blocks. The first maybe quarter mile or so of that is sort of rough – hard dirt and large-ish rocks/pebbles, so be cautious biking over that.

That terrain ends quickly though, yielding to paved road, at which point you have the “right of way” (cross streets have stop signs while you don’t) for most or all of the way on up to Main Street. As mentioned earlier, if you then want to turn onto Main for food or whatever, you can; or if you want to just continue straight to the Prairie Spirit Trail, you just cross Main and go a very short distance (seconds of cycling) before the PS Trail cuts across the road you’re on – 7th street – heading north/south. The Ottawa start of the trail is then less than a mile to your north, with the rest of the trail stretching south.

Thanks for the info on this trail guys. Now that I know where this is, I intend to explore it shortly 🙂

rebelLT, 2012-03-28 08:45:15
I am actually from the Pittsburg area though I have heard about the big O trail head before. when I do these kind of rides I throw my bikes and my sons enduro motorcycle in the pickup and drive to the trailhead. My son drops me off, then takes my pickup to my destination and leaves it there. He takes the cycle out and drives home. I give him 50 or 100 bucks depending on how far he has to drive and a few bucks for his gas. So it works out OK for everyone. I have an old pickup with nothing valuable inside so I dont worry about thefts or damage much. I usually have him leave it in the lot of a twenty four hour store like a wal-mart. The trailhead in IOLA is near the trailhead. Thanks for all the info about the FH trail. I would like to ride it west someday, though I get the impression that it will be some time before that happens.
JD_Shawnee, 2012-03-28 18:57:46
Good plan.

Yeah, it’ll be a while before we can do FHNT all the way west. Yet this eastern section has a lot of cover being close to the river.

my_bicycle_saved_me, 2012-05-20 16:14:25
Guys, I finally got around to riding a round-trip yesterday on this 17-mile contiguous portion connecting Ottawa & Osawatomie. I’ve posted a write-up, including nearly 30 pictures, on my blog:

Flint Hills Nature Trail / My third half-century

Beautiful trail, which I would characterize as being a slightly wilder cousin to Prairie Spirit. As I mention in the writeup, I can see myself volunteering to help maintain the trail, as its upkeep is just a little behind the PS Trail’s right now. But it’s a wonderful little ride, very enjoyable and very similar to the PS Trail. The full 17-mile stretch, if ridden as a round-trip, makes a solid 34-mile run.

I’m looking forward in the future to checking out other portions of the trail, and to following news of the efforts to join up the various currently-disparate sections.

Note: This is an archived copy of an old forum thread, maintained for posterity. For the latest discussions, check out our new forums!

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