Prairie Trail Scenic Byway
The Prairie Trail Scenic Byway is a 56-mile route through north central Kansas. It begins at the south at Canton, not far from where the Santa Fe and Chisholm Trails brought travelers and cattle in the 19th century. Canton is home to the Stars and Stripes Military Museum, an 1883 Pioneer Jail, the last Carnegie Library built, and two water towers labeled “Hot” and “Cold.” Restaurants and shops are available for visitors. From Canton, the Byway heads north on 27th Avenue, winding its way through the westernmost edge of the Flint Hills.
At Pueblo Road, turn west to Maxwell Wildlife Refuge for an opportunity to see bison and elk. Tram tours are available on weekends or by reservation. The Battle Hill Knobs are visible to the north. McPherson State Lake offers fishing, camping and hiking. Continuing north on 27th to Roxbury, a short side trip 1 mile east on Smoky Valley Road to Valley View Cemetery offers great views of the area and tells the story of who the pioneers were. The Byway then heads west from Roxbury on Smoky Valley Road for 13 miles of wide prairie panoramas. A local feature known as Twin Mounds may be seen to the south. Three miles west of Roxbury, the old Olive Springs School houses the gallery of famed artist Maleta Forsberg.
Prairie Trail Scenic Byway continues west to a "T" junction at Old U.S. 81 Highway. Here the Byway turns north towards Lindsborg, the Swedish Capital of Kansas. Four-foot tall wooden “Dala” horses grace each corner in downtown Lindsborg. They are artfully painted with wonderful names, e.g., Salvadore Dala, Hello Dala, etc. Craftsmen can be seen carving Dala horses at the Hemslojd Dala Horse Factory. Arts abound in Lindsborg with the Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery that houses the largest collection of Sandzen’s impressionist paintings; the Red Barn Studio and Raymer Society for the Arts featuring works by Lester Raymer; the Courtyard Gallery of contemporary artists; Small World-Gallery of Arts and Ideas showcasing National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson’s work. Lindsborg is also rich in history with the Old Mill Museum and Heritage Park Complex featuring the Smoky Valley Roller Mill and the Swedish Pavilion, which had been part of the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. Just north of Lindsborg, WPA-constructed Coronado Heights offers the viewer a scenic 360-degree view of the Smoky Hill River Valley from the “castle.” built of Dakota sandstone Shopping, restaurants and lodging accommodations are available in Lindsborg. Parks are dispersed throughout the community including the Valkommen Trail, a 2-mile paved hiking/biking trail.
The Byway continues west on K-4 from Lindsborg towards Marquette. Downtown Marquette preserves its historic beauty with charming shops and eating places. The Marquette Museum tells the story of this Swedish community. The Kansas Motorcycle Museum showcases dozens of motorcycles and the motorcycle career of “Stan the Man” Engdahl. The Hanson-Lindfors Mansion is available for tours by reservation.
From Marquette the Byway follows K-4 to K-141 north. From K-141, the traveler can stop at Kanopolis State Park and Reservoir. Recreation opportunities abound here: hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, fishing, boating, hunting, swimming, birding, etc. are available here. A 24.9-mile Millennium Legacy Trail is for hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists. There is also an 80-mile driving trail featuring 27 historic sites, including Faris Caves. Nearby, Mushroom Rock State Park provides unique geologic rock “mushrooms” for visitors to enjoy. The Byway ends at the intersection with K-140, but the byway traveler’s experience can be extended by continuing westward to the community of Ellsworth, rich in cattle trail history.
For more information, contact the Kansas Scenic Byways Program,
Download the brochure for the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway by clicking here.
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to Jim Mason