Kansas is known, often infamously so, as a flat state. For those of us who have done some exploring, we know that isn’t true. There are plenty of flat stretches, certainly. But there are also areas where the hills undulate and take your breath away. The Flint Hills are spread across the central part of Kansas, and Manhattan is situated toward the upper end the expanse. In this episode, we will talk with Eric Doran, who has spent the last 10 years exploring the Flint Hills. Eric shares some of his favorite places to visit in and around Manhattan for those who love to explore nature and take in the beauty Kansas offers.
Manhattan may not be Hollywood, but it does have a similar sign, right at the top of Manhattan Hill, or Blue Mont Hill. Hike up to the top of this hill for a great view of the Flint Hills.
Though not a name anyone would expect for a Kansas location, Top of the World is another place you can hike to see the surrounding views of Manhattan and the Flint Hills. These well groomed trails are easily accessible, and the trail is a fantastic way to enjoy the company of your dog.
A visit to the Konza Prairie Biological Station gives you a chance to see how the tall grass prairie is being studied and preserved by the Nature Conservancy and K-State’s Division of Biology. This joint venture is primarily focused on long-term ecological research, prairie preservation, and education, but they offer hiking trails open to the public, so everyone has a chance to experience the prairie first hand. The trails range from 2.6 to 6.2 miles and are considered moderate due to the occasional steep climb.
Linear Park Trail is a loop around the city of Manhattan and offers the most urban trail covered in this episode. This is a great option for bikers and joggers since it is about a 9-mile loop.
Manhattan River Trail is a 5.4-mile loop that runs along the river. It is a great option for mountain bikers, but is also good for hiking. It is considerate a moderate trail due to the terrain along the river.
Pillsbury Crossing will give you the chance to see something you don’t see often in Kansas – a waterfall. This is a beautiful wildlife area that is situated at a low river crossing area – a section of a river that is low and allows for crossing of vehicles and, in the good old days, wagons. While you are here, check out the Deep Creek Schoolhouse, build in 1892.
If you want an education in the Flint Hills check out the Flint Hills Discovery Center, whose mission is to inspire people to celebrate, explore, and care for the Flint Hills, a moving landscape Kansas hosts.
If you want to be guaranteed to be surrounded by animals, then Sunset Zoo is a great option and can enjoy both Flint Hills flora and fauna.
The Gardens at Kansas State University offers the opportunity to visit a botanical garden right in the heart of the Flint Hills. The garden gives students the opportunity to develop, maintain, and operate a world class botanical garden and is open to the public.
Liquid Art Winery grows grapes in the Flint Hills, and it is a great place in Manhattan to wind down after a long day exploring nature. Sit outdoors and watch the sun setting below the hills while enjoying a glass of wine.
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, you can zipline through the Flint Hills at Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park.
The podcast about culture, travel, people, history, and enterprise in Kansas.