TOPEKA — Gov. Laura Kelly joined local officials in Osawatomie to recognize improvements in Miami County to the Flint Hills Trail used by cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians.
The 117-mile trail stretches from Osawatomie to Herington and cuts through five counties in east-central Kansas. It is the seventh-longest rail-to-trail in the United States. Flint Hills Trail follows the Santa Fe National Historic Trail route and was designated a state park two years ago.
In 2018, the City of Osawatomie established a task force to work on a new 2-mile section of the trail from John Brown Highway to a trailhead near a local sports complex.
“It’s undeniable that Flint Hills Trail is among one of the most unique trails in the nation, and part of what makes this trail so special is the valuable relationships that have formed as a result of its use,” said Brad Loveless, secretary at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. “Flint Hills Trail has brought together Kansas landowners, counties and trail users for a common purpose.”
Kelly, who worked for 18 years as the executive director of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, said during a ceremony Wednesday that parks, trails and other outdoor spaces played a role in economic development and quality-of-life issues in the state.
“Improving access to outdoor recreation and park programs has always been a priority of mine,” she said.
Flint Hills Trail is built on an old railroad corridor originally developed in the late 1880s. Railway service on the line was discontinued in the 1980s. The trail supported by the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy is open 365 days a year to nonmotorized traffic as well as horses.