Since I've been in Iola (about 5 years), I've looked for just the right place for training, as well as a place to just relax and enjoy God's nature. The Prairie Spirit trail (as well as the Southwind Trail) provides much of that. Being a "rail-trail," it gives trail runners a nice flat course to just "put in the miles" in a peaceful environment...but the technically challenging aspect of trail running is admittedly missing from the PST and the SWT.
A few months ago, however, I heard from a mountain biker about a trail he and some other volunteers had been working on that I might enjoy. I was eager to find it, but on my first search I had no luck. I had been waiting to find someone who could direct me there, but since no one I knew seemed to know about it, I decided to look again...and this time I drove right there. Boy was I pleasantly surprised at what I found!
As of this post, I'm still getting familiar with the course. I've been on it two times in as many days, and can get a good 4 miles or so in without getting lost, but sometime when I'm feeling a bit more adventurous, I might check out a few of the paths I've missed.
As much as I want to share this gem with others, I have to admit I really hope it doesn't become too popular. I know it's selfish of me, but I'd hate for it to lose its feel of being this "little hidden treasure" in the middle of small town Kansas. Kansas has some great trails, but this one is only a few miles from my house, and it is just what I've been waiting for to bump up my ultra training.
There will certainly be future posts about this trail, but for now, I'll just share a few pictures I took with my phone (sorry about the poor quality) to give you a feel of the course.
|Starting from the east trail head, a wide (maybe 12'), gravel trail becomes a single-track path into the woods.|
|Guess which direction I chose?!|
|It is hard to show the incline or level of difficulty in a picture, but there are some fairly challenging hills.|
|My running companion...because I'm just about that slow!|
|I've never really mountain biked, but this looks very rough for a bike... I think I prefer to stay on my feet!|
|I'm not even quite sure where this is, but this was my turn-around point on one of the trails.|
|I love fall foliage on soft dirt. As long as it isn't hiding any dangerous rocks, roots, or holes, it provides a pretty soft path for your feet.|
|there is this one little bridge crossing I thought was pretty nice.|
|I vote that they never mow this! It is a nice addition to the course, in my opinion, to have to run through this tall grass.|
|For part of the trail, you run along this river (or creek, or whatever it is). This was one of the few brief glimpses I got of how beautiful the trail actually is.|