The Flint Hills Trail in East-Central Kansas traverses more than 90 miles connecting six counties while also transecting several communities, including Council Grove, Osage City, Ottawa, and Osawatomie. The trail also provides a key connection to the Prairie Spirit Trail and Landon Trail, both of which connect to the broader regional trail system. The trail has several positive impacts related to economic growth, tourism, active lifestyles and quality of life, among others.
Tourism generated by the Flint Hills Trail has aided in small-town prosperity, helping local economies thrive. Restaurants, gift shops, bed & breakfasts, motels, campgrounds and service stations are all necessary to satisfy the needs of out-of-town trail users. This well-designed and maintained trail has become a regional economic driver for many businesses and communities. The trail has become home to national bike events such as the Rush the Rails event that occurs annually.
In addition to the economic element, the trail provides an opportunity for those that live around it or those that choose it as a tourist destination to participate in an active lifestyle, promoting health and well-being. Having trails close to local communities greatly increases the opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to incorporate active transportation into their lifestyle. Level grades and obstacle-free design make the trail an ideal destination. As a result, the quality of life in neighboring communities is enhanced.
Now officially designated as a state park, the Flint Hills Trail continues to be an economic driver, encouraging active lifestyles as well as continuing to be a desired destination for Kansans. Key to the design and construction of this trail infrastructure were federal funding programs such as the Transportation Alternatives Program and the Recreational Trails Program. Both programs were vital in supporting trail construction, which resulted in an array of positive outcomes.