Would you like to bring your furry friends onto the Prairie Spirit Trail, but are unsure of the rules?

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism has no specific pet rules for the Prairie Spirit Trail, but general State Park Regulations apply:

Pets must always be restrained by a camper, cage, hand-held leash, or tethered chain no longer than 10 feet. They are not allowed on swimming beaches or swimming areas that are delineated by buoys or other markers or in public buildings or structures. Dogs participating in authorized activities or assisting the visually or hearing impaired are not subject to these restrictions.

So, in summary, pets must be on a leash no longer than 10 feet, and are not permitted in public buildings or structures (e.g. restrooms or trailheads), unless it’s a service dog.

In addition, here are some general rules and common-sense courtesy guidelines:

Trail Pet Etiquette Guidelines

  • Kansas does not have a state-wide leash law. However, individual cities and/or counties may, and those laws apply on the Prairie Spirit Trail within those jurisdictions, as does the general leash regulation (shown above) within the trail corridor.
  • Be considerate of fellow trail users, wildlife and the land.
  • Some people have had bad experiences with dogs. While your pet may be perfectly safe, other people may not necessarily know that, and they may react with fear or anger, especially if a dog is large or excitable. People running or biking can trigger chase, herding, or barking instincts in dogs, and that reaction can be terrifying to others, particularly if they’ve had previous incidents. Be aware of this potential. The safest approach is to keep your log leashed and under control at all times.
  • Bicycles may approach from the rear, quickly and silently. Bicyclists are trained to ring a bell or call out as they approach, but not all do so, or wind or nearby traffic noise may muffle their sounds. If startled, a dog may react with aggression. Again, keep your pet under control at all times.
  • Do not let your dog wander off-trail onto private property.
  • Do not let your pet chase wildlife. Remember, the outdoors is home to many creatures, and they do not appreciate being disturbed or threatened.
  • Be sure your pet is properly tagged.
  • Pick up after your pet. No one wants to encounter dog poop on the trail. While it may be tempting to kick droppings off to the side of the trail, this is discouraged for sanitary and aesthetic reasons. Best practice is to carry pet waste bags, use them, and carry the waste out for proper disposal.
  • Carry water for your pet. Hydration is important, and water sources along the trail are widely spaced, and are seasonal (i.e. turned off in the winter).

Remember: You are legally responsible for your pet and its actions. If your pet causes harm to a person, animal, or property, you are liable, and may face criminal, civil, or financial consequences.

Links to Additional Trail Pet Etiquette Guidelines

Links to Municipal Pet Laws

See also: Emergency Contacts along the Prairie Spirit Trail