Nature Trails

Three short nature trails allow visitors to experience the tallgrass prairie first-hand, while remaining in closer proximity to visitor services. Permits are not required for hiking. All trails open 24 hours. Enjoy your hike by following these important safety rules.

Nature Trail Rules:

  • Foot traffic only: wheelchairs for mobility impaired is the only exception. However, the trails are not designed for ADA accessibility.

  • Pets are allowed: Pets must be on a 6' leash at all times. Please pick up after your pet.

  • No Biking: Bicycle racks are provided for your convenience at the Visitor Center and Bottomland Trail.

  • No Vehicles: Motorized transportation is restricted to authorized staff to reduce environmental impact. This includes ATV's, UTV's, 4-wheelers, segways, hover boards, motorized scooters and E-bikes.

  • No Horses: Pack animals are not currently permitted.

  • No Camping: Public campgrounds are found north and south within 30 minutes of the preserve.

  • No Flames or Grilling: Grasslands are flammable. Help protect them.

  • No Smoking: Grasslands are flammable. Help protect them.

  • No Harassing Wildlife: They live here. You're visiting.

  • No Hunting: All wildlife is protected on the preserve.

  • No Drones: We maintain the natural experience of the wild prairie.

Safety Tips

  • This is a natural area. Watch for snakes, poison ivy, and wild animals.

  • Please enjoy the trail by staying on the path.

  • Practice Leave-No-Trace principles. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

  • Visit the Safety page for more information on wildlife, pets, and hiking.

 
Lower Fox Creek School on the Southwind Nature Trail
Lower Fox Creek School on the Southwind Nature Trail

NPS Photo

Southwind Nature Trail

Visit nature.org for the Southwind Nature Trail and Historic Ranch Headquarters Map

The Southwind Nature Trail leisurely strolls across hill and valley, watercourse and prairie grassland. It gives visitors a well-rounded close-up of the preserve. Named for the Kansa Indians, the People of the Southwind, this 1.75 mile trail presents marvelous vistas as well as an opportunity for a detailed view of the prairie ecosystem. Two overlooks afford visitors the scenic beauty of the prairie.

The trail winds across rolling hills, over a spring-fed stream lined with cottonwood and hackberry trees, and through a fascinating array of grasses and flowers. Along the way, insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals make the prairie their home. Take your time and notice the gray and white limestone and steel-tough flint for which the region was named. Hike all the way to the one-room school house on the hill.

 
Cloud family enjoying the wheelchair accessible trail
The Cloud family enjoying the waysides at the Bottomland Trail

NPS Photo

Bottomland Nature Trail

Visit nature.org for a map and brochure of the Bottomland Trail

The Bottomland Nature Trail has the gentlest slopes on the preserve. Two loops in a figure-8 measure 0.75 and 0.5 miles. This trailhead has an information kiosk, five interpretive waysides, benches, comfort station, and small picnic area. During dry weather, the crushed limestone hardened trail surface can support wheelchairs. A trail brochure is at the Visitor Center and the brochure box at the trail head kiosk.

Experience a bottomland prairie restoration area, a rare natural plant community and its importance in the human history of the Flint Hills region. Most recently, the area has been restored from agricultural use. Bottomland, an area adjacent to rivers and streams, is prime agricultural land for farming due to sediment runoff from flooding. This trail was made possible through a generous donation by the Cloud Foundation in memory of Roger Cloud, an avid lover of the Flint Hills.

 
Fox Creek Trail with 6' tall grasses
Fox Creek Trail with 6' tall grasses in the fall

NPS Photo

Fox Creek Hiking Trail

Visit nature.org for a map and brochure of the Fox Creek Trail

The Fox Creek Trail is a 6.1 mile round-trip starting at the northern end of the Bottomland Nature Trail. It extends northward following Fox Creek and connects with the visitor center. Visitors experience bottomland prairie restoration plots along Fox Creek's riparian areas. The most recently restored areas are at the northern end. Deep soils and abundant moisture offer 6 feet tall grasses in the fall. Catch-and-release fishing is also available along Fox Creek.

 

Last updated: March 6, 2022

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Strong City , KS 66869

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