WICHITA–It has been a good summer for outdoor entertainment, with social distancing recommendations due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Kansas bikers are fortunate to have several trail options for exploration at their tire-tips.
One of these is the Prairie Sunset Trail near Wichita. This trail is a relatively easy ride (bike, walk or horseback ride, all of which are allowed) for most members of the family. Like other trails carved from abandoned rail lines, there is little elevation gain. And, if one sticks to the portion of the trail west of Maize Road, it’s virtually impossible to get lost, since the Prairie Sunset Trail is a straight out and back experience.
If one should choose to complete the section from Maize to South Hoover Road, where the trail ends, it pays to study satellite imagery, which is readily available online. It’s easy to miss a turn on this more urban section.
Th Prairie Sunset Trail has advantages for the Kansas cyclist. A good chunk of it is lined with trees on both the north and south sides. Subsequently, if it’s a blustery winter day or an unruly summer one, a shelterbelt provides protection for most of the journey.
Conversely, this can be a disadvantage on an especially hot summer day, when the wind isn’t quite strong enough to push through the trees. However, another advantage of this trail is being able to ride in Kansas’ largest city without much concern about traffic—only every mile or so when the trail crosses a road.
There are several highlights along the way, one being the Goddard Linear Park. This trail stop features a bike tool and air pump station. There are also restrooms and a water fountain available here. On a hot summer day, the water playground just south of the trail issues an enticing invitation.
Another highlight of this bicycle trail is the covered bridge on the section of trail just east of Garden Plain. It’s definitely worth a stop and a photograph.
The Prairie Sunset Trail can be accessed at virtually any point where it intersects roads between Garden Plain and Hoover Road in Wichita. However, some of the specific trailheads, where parking is accommodated, include: Garden Plain Park at 620 Section Line Road; Goddard Linear Park at 108 N. Main Street; and the cul-de-sac at 1600 S.111 th St. in Wichita.