“This loop follows smooth and wide paths of grass or dirt with several large creek crossings.”
— Phillip Oyer
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
Human foot traffic only. No pets. No hunting. No bikes. Fishing requires state license. Open dawn to dusk. Camping requires special permissions.
Prairie Center is a project to restore a section of natural Kansas tall grass prairie. The trails follow several loops through the tall grass and woods offering views of how Kansas would have looked to the pioneers and natives.
Need to Know
The park is only open to human foot traffic, so leave your dog and bike at home.
There are no obstacles in the grass areas. The dirt paths through the woods make several creek crossings. The dirt path in the southern leg of its loop contains a steep climb before exiting the woods into central pond area. So choose your direction by whether you want to go up or down.
This is a fairly easy run that follows the main doubletrack loop around the Prairie Center. Start from the main parking area by the area office. Head south out of the parking lot and head west along the main trail. The route follows a series of grass paths through the tall grass and dirt trails through the woods. A one lane gravel drive also goes through the trail system and itself offers some interesting options for running. The grassy trails in the northeast area of the park are about as easy as running gets. The dirt paths in the western half of the trail system offer many creek crossings and a couple steep climbs. There are several other trail options in the area so pay attention to trail intersections.
There is a large pond in the center with a deck that can be a nice place for picnics. There are also a few other picnic locations tucked around the park for visitors to find. All-in-all, this park is a wonderful place to run through nature only a few minutes away from Olathe or Gardner.
Flora & Fauna
The park is a wilderness preserve, so you may come across any animal that can be found in this area of Kansas. The main feature of the park is, of course, the tall grass prairie itself.