Cruising Kansas' Prairie Spirit Trail

Cruising the Prairie Spirit Trail, a rail-trail in Kansas from Ottawa to Iola, KS. Enjoy this flat, quiet, and beautiful journey through farmland and small town USA.

Bicycle Adventurer: Jack Podoll

When: October 2015

Accommodations: America's Best Value Inn

Distance: I rode 53 miles on my first day from the Old Depot in Ottawa to my motel in Iola, then returned the next day for a total of 106 miles in two days. From Iola, you can now extend the ride on the Southwind Rail Trail for another eight miles, continuing south to Humboldt.

Bonus tip for this adventure: This level, easy-going rail-trail has plenty of trees, several excellent trailheads with fresh water and bathrooms, and a couple of towns with good eats. And this well-maintained trail is in excellent condition.

Day One:

I departed Ottawa and enjoyed a perfect blue sky day except for a headwind and gusting winds. Luckily, the trees are thick along both sides of the trail for at least two-thirds of they way, sheltering the trail.

Garnett, KS is about halfway to Iola and since the downtown is right next to the trail,  I ate lunch there both days. 

I arrived in Iola about an hour before dark with just enough time to check in to my motel, located right on the trail. It was Sunday night, so most restaurants were closed, but I found a couple of beers and fast food.

Day Two:

I awoke with great anticipation of cruising with a tailwind, promised by the weather forecasters, back to Ottawa. But NO! I pedaled out of the motel parking lot and was greeted by a headwind, stronger and cooler than the day before. I'm just lucky I guess! So, the best I could average was 9.5 mph, and it took me 5+ hours to ride the 53 miles each day.

Your favorite local bike shop? Turner's Cycling and Fitness8909 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, KS.  Family owned for years, they are wonderful people and excellent mechanics. 

HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your bike overnight adventure!

Bike overnight tips and tricks?

This is my packing list: (email me for spreadsheet copy) 

Left Rear Pannier
small towel
Toiletries & meds
evening shoes/sandals
Evening Clothes
yellow jacket
Trash Bags & Twist Ties
Reading materials
JackD pop?
extra mirror
Duct Tape 

bike shorts
bike shirt
bike socks
bike shoes

Right Rear Pannier
wrist braces
extra bike shirt
extra bike socks
Long sleeve Tshirt (mock?)
Rain pants/pant strap
Swim Suit
blue outdoor shirt 

Mid Bag
Patch Kit
Frame Pump
Bike Tools
Cable & Padlock wKey
extra glasses & strap
extra bolts & nuts 

Bar Bag
map holder
2 Water Bottles
pocket knife
hand sanitizer
Butt Butter (small)
lip balm
Flash Light
can koozie
dog alarm 

white hat to cool head
forehead light
2 tubes
Chain Lube
Insect Repellent
First Aid Kit
electric tape
Butt Butter (large)
rain bag for trunk/bar bag
rain bag for seat
bungee cord(s) 

Big Pump in truck


5 responses so far ↓

stephen - Nov 17, 2015 at 4:27 PM

Good article. I have toured on the prairie spirit trail as well and recommend it. I also experienced the wind blowing against you.. No matter which direction you go. So be prepared for that.

Ed - Nov 18, 2015 at 7:48 AM

We too rode the Prarie Spirit and connected it with the Katy trail. Some mighty fine plains riding between the two of them. Nice write up. Thanks for sharing

Olivander Teatfeat - Nov 21, 2015 at 10:56 AM

It's always better to be blown than to not be blown...glad you had a great trip.

John Payne - Nov 10, 2016 at 7:20 PM

My wife and I did half that route a couple years ago. From Garnett-to-Ottawa, a motel, then back the next day. Nice trip. I like having retail options on the trail. All Kansas trails aren't so blessed. I enjoyed your write-up and it's nice to know somebody else enjoys these outings, too.

Chris - Feb 16, 2018 at 12:55 PM

Which half of this ride is more interesting? Garnett to Ottawa or Garnett to Iola? We're hoping to do an out one day and back the next but half of your ride. Which half of the trail would you reccomend?

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