Switchgrass

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SHARES
  
AVERAGE RATING
*****
4.87 out of 5
View Topo Map

Intermediate
22
miles

Singletrack
↑ 3,700 ft
↓ 2,700 ft
1,557
elevation (ft)

Loop
Trail Description
About this trail
The mountain bike trail is a clockwise stacked loop system. It begins at the trailhead (go left at kiosk) in Switchgrass Campground with the Golden Belt Loop (aka, gold), then the Marina Loop (aka, purple), and finally the Hell Creek Loop (aka, red). If you wanted to ride all the loops in order, you’d ride Gold – Purple – Red – Purple – Gold. Begin at the trailhead on the Gold, then intersect with the Purple, then ride the Red. After completing the Red, you get back on the Purple. Completing that, you are back on the Gold. That’s about 22 miles all of which is great singletrack. If needed, the trail is never far from a bailout to a paved road back to the trailhead. Plan on 2-4 hrs depending on biking skill and how much sightseeing you might want to do. The loop record for racing is 1:40.
The novice level (EZ) loop is a 2-mi clockwise loop or 5-mi if you add the optional Bird Loop. EZ also starts and ends at the Switchgrass trailhead (go right at kiosk). It is non-technical with no climbs, no deep sand, and very few rocks. It is about a 20-40 minute ride suitable for beginners. But, EZ is a genuine mountain bike trail, so don’t expect a paved path!
Runners and hikers, if you want to try an awesome 3-mile section, start under the west end of the Hell Creek bridge, and do the Hell Creek loop. Any of the remainder of the trail system is also great for running or hiking. Just remember that bikes go clockwise and foot traffic goes counterclockwise. Watch out for trail user traffic, and be very cautious making the 4 pavement crossings within the park.
This trail has some technically difficult sections in all the loops (except EZ). Most of the trail is moderate to easy, but there are several rocky sections, deep sand, arduous climbs, highly exposed ledges, and steep drops. On average, the trail is rated blue (intermediate riders), but there are black (expert only) sections interspersed, and an ample amount of green (any rider).
The trail is open year-around, spring and fall are best, but there are many great days for riding in the winter and early mornings are spectacular for riding in the summer months. Many sections of the trail are very close to the lake shore, which can make for a refreshing stop during the summer. There is no drinking water or restroom on the trail, except at the Trailhead. All park restrooms have showers, but are closed October-March. Cell phone coverage is about 75%.
Short cutting the trail will almost certainly result in exposure to poison ivy, which can cause an allergic reaction even in winter. If you stay on the trail, you need not worry about poison ivy. Pets are allowed on the trail but must be under control at all times. If you encounter a maintenance issue on the trail that needs attention, please call the trail coordinator.
If you want to observe natural beauty amongst the rust-colored Cretaceous Dakota Sandstone cliffs and outcrops, this trail is the place. The park was created from former grazing land and on this trail you’ll see many limestone fence posts that are historical remnants of the early ranching era of this land. Furthermore, private land just outside the park is still actively used for cattle ranching. Southshore Drive meanders through spectacularly scenic native rangeland and a favorite of local motorcycle tourists.
Watch out for wildlife in the summer, particularly herptiles on the trail – the ornate box turtle, horned lizard, racerunner, skink, legless lizard, collared lizard, and several species of snakes are all common during warm weather. Rattlesnakes are present in the park, most are a petite species known as the massasauga or pigmy rattler. It is unlawful to harass, kill, or injure wildlife in the park. Take care not to run over any critters on the trail.
You might also see wild turkey, deer, bobwhite quail, pheasant, red-tailed hawk, and many species of grassland songbirds such as larks and sparrows. The wildflowers and grasses are a spectacular part of the park’s natural landscape. Every season is different. Wildflowers show a constant progression of colors from early spring to late fall. Winter colors are vibrant rusts, browns, and golds set against the blue water of the lake. The Switchgrass Trail is named after a native prairie grass that is common throughout the central and eastern plains. Switchgrass grows abundantly in the park and has gained national attention as a prospective source of cellulosic ethanol.
The best source of info on the trail is http://www.facebook.com/switchgrasstrail
added by dmbernasconiGranny Gear July 10, 2009
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
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Trail Q&A
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Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
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Recent Trail Check-ins     (27 total check-ins)
  bpownall   1 week ago
  chadillac72   on Apr 19, 2015
  b699305   on Apr 1, 2015
  tidwe255   on Mar 31, 2015
  ryno131   on Mar 21, 2015
Photo & Video Gallery (113)
Trail Photos & Videos (113)
 
Reviews (32)
 


April 6, 2015
 
Review: The trail has a good mix of technical and flow. There are some exposed drop offs which makes riding challenging and fun. I never knew Kansas would have this terrain. Thoroughly enjoyed this trail and will return if I'm in the area

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January 15, 2015
 
Review: Ridden 1/15/15. Snow in places, wet and slippery in places but bone dry where the sun shines.

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December 23, 2014
 
Review: Fun trail, stay to the left at all the intersections to do full ride.

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December 16, 2014
 
Review: My favorite trail in Kansas. I have three younger boys, and this is where they want to go riding every weekend.

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December 1, 2014
 
Review: Was really nice trail. Great for all levels of riding. The signs can be a little confusing, but no chance of ever getting lost. I learned stay to left at the trails for the full ride. Nice place, will return. Make sure to have $5 for parking.

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November 8, 2014
 
Review: Epic. Great great trails. Some very technical rock gardens, flowy singletrack made for speed, beatiful vistas. Couldn't ask for anything more. I will be back to ride Switchgrass every time I'm in the area.

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October 28, 2014
 
Review: I read the reviews. I've seen the pictures. I studied the TOPO map. I had no idea how spectacular this trail is. You can get overwhelmed with the view from each new hilltop. This trail has everything a mountain biker wants out of a trail. Rock crawling , tight switchbacks , sand traps , dirt & roots , rock bluffs , fast downhill , open prairie , timber , loose gravel , and canyon cruising. Just make sure you carry lots of liquid. This trail will suck it out of you fast. Low tire pressure will help in the sand and over the rocks. I ran about 28 lbs. on my 26" and did quite well.

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October 7, 2014
 
Review: First off I gave it 5 stars, so any criticism is for the next traveler to have an even better experience. This is a pure cross country trail, if you are looking for gnarly tech there are better places. But if you are looking for an awesome cross country experience then this is the place. Not enough trail for me to call it a destination stop, because you can comfortably ride the entire trail system in 3 hours- definitely worth a lap or 3. Add the camping and fishing and it becomes a better all around destination trip. Camp sites are well maintained and nice, the lake has great fishing, and you can easily do a couple laps without getting tired of the scenery. The EZ trail is a true beginner gem and will make your novice rider very happy. The Gold trail has a fair amount of tech, but if you take the "C" cut off you can ride with multiple different levels of riders and minimize the walking. They will only walk about 20ft and have to wait a few minutes- experienced riders don't miss this section- very fun and smartly put together! All trails are very ridable, with beginners needing to walk 10ft to bypass several drops and may need to finish a few hill walking their bikes. All 3 loops offer unique riding experience and if they ever add some more trails, maybe totaling 50 miles, this would be one of the great bike destinations. I live in Colorado and ride throughout the state and can tell you that this place holds its own against any of them. IMBA at it's best and a big thank you to the gentleman who maintains the trail- leave money in the donation box, he does it as a volunteer. Strava had it at 23.6 miles and 1249ft elevation gain. Rate this as an intermediate level trail, with a few spot that are bordering on advanced. Lots of water and snacks!

Similar Trail: Curt Gowdy

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August 30, 2014
 
Review: I don't have anything to compare it to since this was the first time EVER I've mountain biked...I've ridden a mountain bike and jumped a few curbs but clearly not even close to what I experienced today...and I only rode the gold and EZ course. Sad to say, I was slightly relieved when the terrain smoothed out. Haha! On my way back to Olathe i stopped in Lawrence and rode Clinton Lake's blue trail. Switchgrass was way better!

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August 6, 2014
 
Review: This trail system will give you all you want in a challenging workout. Hell's Creek is crazy riding the cliffs above the water and the gorges. The Marina trail has some serious climbs and descents and some beautiful lake views. Well worth the drive, hard to believe what you find out on the prairie!

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Switchgrass MTB Trail 4.87 out of 5 based on 32 ratings. 32 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
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