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Dates: 1/2/2019 - 12/31/2019
City / State: Z Bar Ranch Strong City, KS
Event Name: Flint Hills
Event Type: Year Round Walk
Event ID: 111704 2019/Y1760
Distance - Trail Ratings: 5K, 10K - 2B
Description: Qualifies for Z in Walking the USA A-Z Special Program. Backcountry trails (9 AM-4:30 PM). Closed New Year's, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. May be closed Sundays NOV-MAR. CALL AHEAD 620-273-8494 to verify hours and status. Gravel roads and mowed paths through the beautiful Flint Hills that surround the historic mansion. Wheelchairs, strollers, and pets are NOT allowed in the backcountry. Difficulty Level 2. Frontcountry trails (open 24/7): If backcountry trails are closed, Fox Creek, Southwind, and Bottomland Trails may be walked (multiple times or in combination, if desired) to total 5K or 10K. Not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs if ground is wet; possible, but difficult if ground is dry. Pets are allowed, but must be on a visible, 6' or shorter leash; attended at all times; and picked up after. Z Bar (Spring Hill) Ranch is a 10,894 acre cattle ranch. The preserve protects 10,862 acres, most of it under control of the Nature Conservancy. The National Park Service currently operates 32 acres including the 1881 historic ranch house, three-story limestone barn and outbuildings, and nearby one room schoolhouse - Lower Fox Creek School (built 1882). Numerous natural springs, hence the name "Spring Hill," are found on the ranch, which also includes two permanent streams, Fox Creek and Palmer Creek. The ranch house is an imposing three story, eleven-room building constructed in the Second Empire style, a rare architectural style in the region, and executed in native materials. The 6,480 square foot, three-story barn is nearly as impressive as the house.
Amenities: Strollers: medium | Wheelchairs: hard | Pets: No | Restrooms: Yes
Special Programs: Bridges - Spanning the USA, Doin' The Louisiana Purchase, Points of Reference, Walking the USA A - Z
Start Times: Backcountry trails 9-4:30, Frontcountry 24/7
Location: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (TPNP) Visitor Center Information Desk
Start Point / Driving Directions: TPNP is on Hwy 177 about 3 miles north of Strong City, which is about 75 miles northeast of Wichita. From S take I-35 to Exit 92 and go north on Hwy 177 (Flint Hills Scenic Byway) 31 miles. From N or E take I-35 to Exit 127 and go west on US 50 22 miles to Hwy 177, then north. From W take US 50 to Hwy 177, then north.
Awards & Fees: IVV Credit Only
Comments: Fox Creek Hiking Trail (10K loop). Starts at north end of Bottomland Trail and goes north, following Fox Creek. You will experience bottomland prairie restoration plots along Fox Creek's riparian areas. Deep soils and abundant moisture produce 6' tall grasses in Fall. Southwind Nature Trail (3K loop). A leisurely stroll across hill and valley, watercourse and prairie grassland, gives you a close-up look at what makes up the Preserve. Named for the Kansa Indians, People of the Southwind, this trail presents marvelous vistas as well as an opportunity for detailed looks at the prairie ecosystem. Two overlook areas give you a chance to experience 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 is evidence of the insects, birds, and mammals that make the prairie their home. Take your time and notice the gray and white rock, limestone, and steel-tough chert, commonly called "flint," that gives the name to the hills. Hike to the little one-room school house on the hill and then back to the ranch headquarters. Bottomland Trail (1K & 1K loops (both loops=2K)). This trail traverses land which has experienced many uses; one of the earliest, and most recent, being agricultural. Bottomland is any land adjacent to a waterway and is prime agricultural land, due to sediment runoff. This area is being restored to bottomland prairie and may be viewed on TPNP's website as it develops. The trail consists of an information trailhead, five interpretive waysides, benches, overlook areas, and fully accessible trail loops. You may pick up a brochure at the ranch headquarters or in the brochure box at the trailhead kiosk to inform you as you walk. So enjoy the trail as you experience a future bottomland prairie restoration while gaining an understanding of its rarity as a natural plant community and its importance in the human history of the Flint Hills. Note: Trails may be closed when there is dangerous weather and during controlled burns in the Spring. Qualifies for Chase County in the Walking the Counties of Kansas program.
Host Club: Kansas JayWalkers
Contact: Lucy/Les Yother (913) 250-0866
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