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:
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.
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 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