Outdoors

What you need to know about Konza Prairie

Life on the prairie

▪ WHAT: It is an 8,600-acre tract of native tallgrass prairie located within the Flint Hills. It borders Interstate 70 on the south and stretches north.

▪ SIGNIFICANCE: It is a protected tract of land, owned by the Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University, within the Flint Hills, where the largest remaining portion of Noth America’s remaining tallgrass prairie can be found. It has been recognized as one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas Geography.

▪ WHERE: From Interstate 70, take Exit 307, McDowell Creek Road. Go north on McDowell Creek Road for 41/2 miles to the Konza Prairie sign marking the entrance.

▪ ACCESS: Because Konza Prairie is operated as a field research station by Kansas State University, much of it is off-limits to the public. But it does include a series of hiking trails open to the public. The Nature Trail covers 2.5 miles, the Kings Creek Loop is 4.4 miles and the Godwin Hill Loop covers 6 miles. They are open daily, and can be accessed at the parking area near the main entrance. Environmental education programs and a biennial Visitors Day also provide access.

▪ WHAT’S ALLOWED AND WHAT’S NOT: Trails are for hiking only. Bicycles, dogs and horses are not permitted on site. No camping is allowed and picnic areas are not availabe along the trails. Visitors must remain on the trails and are prohibited from collecting flowers, rocks, or other items.

▪ WHAT YOU’LL FIND: Konza Prairie is a nature photographer’s dream. Trails provide chances to see a diversity of wildlife, including big bucks, flocks of wild turkeys, prairie chickens, an array of songbirds, raptors and even bison. In the spring, endless stretches filled with wildflowers are the main attraction.

▪ MORE INFORMATION: Call the Nature Conservancy office at 785-233-4400.

Brent Frazee, bfrazee@kcstar.com

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