Switchgrass

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SHARES
  
AVERAGE RATING
*****
4.76 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 11, 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
Rider Questions
 

0

Q: Is it open today may 13,2016? -Guest

No answers yet.

Answer

 

0

Q: Hardtail or full suspension? -Guest

A: either

Guest answered on May 12, 2016. Did you find this helpful? Yes | No

Answer

 
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Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
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Recent Trail Check-ins     (54 total check-ins)
  b699305   2 weeks ago
  John Jackson   on Apr 21, 2016
  PHRANQUY   on Mar 22, 2016
  b699305   on Feb 8, 2016
  b699305   on Jan 30, 2016
Photo & Video Gallery (152)
Trail Photos & Videos (152)
 
Reviews (43)
 

Gnarly


March 22, 2016
PHRANQUY Gnarly  
 
Review: A fun beginner to intermediate level trail system with some more advanced features (drops, rock gardens, exposure) thrown in for good measure. Lots of short cuts that direct you back to the trailhead in case you feel it's time to return to your vehicle.

Similar Trail: Rock Lake Epic

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Bunny Hop


December 20, 2015
 
Review: Fun trail for Kansas. Presents challenges for all levels of riders.

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Gramcounter

October 31, 2015
DCLamp Gramcounter  
 
Review: Great trails no doubt about it. If youre thinking about doing some bikepaking or just like camping stay for a night or two. Getting through all 22.5 miles is not for the faint of heart, this trail will challenge everything you know about yourself as a rider, mechanic and internal toughness. This place will awe you with its beauty and make you earn every mile of it. This aint no cheap date. So much fun and if you camp dont find a spot by yourself, you could miss out on missing out on a new riding buddy.

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Singletrack


October 14, 2015
mongwolf Singletrack  
 
Review: Very fun trail. I'd rate the riding a 4 and the setting and facilities a 5. The overall experience is excellent. I concur with Jason's review. The first few miles are a rock fest (with some deep silt) and a good challenge. The last few on Birdie and Easy are the exact opposite - buttery smooth trails that you pedal as fast as possible through all the curves. Easy but very fun too. The entire 22.5 miles are loaded with switchbacks that are a blast. The trail throws some very advanced objects at you (mostly rock ledges). And be careful oftentimes after you have gained some speed you go into a blind curve and right on the back side is a technical nugget ready to take you out. It definitely keeps you on your toes if you are riding it fast. Maybe the only thing lacking in the system is a sustained fast DH, but there are enough fun short DHs to make up for it.

Wilson State Park is very pretty and gives you a real Kansas experience in a good way. The prairie grasses, eastern red cedars, cottonwoods, locusts and small rock formations are all very pretty. Fall has just begun, so there was an abundance of golds and yellows to enjoy. It should be even better for the next 10 days or so. I also saw several deer, one massive buck, heard a few Great Horned owls in the evening, and lots of coyotes in the night and morning. The stars are fantastic too. It was a great all around outdoors experience. Switchgrass campground close to the THD is a nice stay, and the showers are a huge plus whether you are staying overnight or just riding for the day. It cost $15 to enter the park and stay one night at Switchgrass. They do accept credit and debit. If you are staying, you may want to buy your food supplies well ahead of the exit off I-70. There doesn't seem to be much at the exit or in the couple LITTLE towns nearby (Wilson and Lucas).

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Singletrack

October 23, 2015
Guest Singletrack  
 
Review: You don;t want to miss a great restaurant in Wilson called "Made From Scratch". Lucas also has a meat market and I think a grocery store.

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Gramcounter


September 11, 2015
 
Review: Switchgrass is an IMPA Epic trail, or at least still in their hall of fame, hard to keep track [IMBA]. I haven't flowed a ton of EPICs yet though I've ridden quite a few MT trails in my time. What I found was tons of twisty fun, solid singletrack with some patches of new school flow. The rock garden portion has something for the more advanced [Golden Belt Loop], while most of the trail is oriented towards the intermediate rider. The turns are so frequent on some of the portions that I wonder if burm-ing would help on a few sections. I found the hell creek section to the East the most fun. Bird walk to the West is all flat and SUPER turny-turny. Like a cornering clinic. Golden Belt is honest single track with some intermediate to advanced rock garden section. If advanced rock gardens aren't your thing take the C3 shortcut and get about the same EPIC loop mileage without the emergency room visit.

I was unlucky hitting this late summer with temps around 100º and 30MPH winds, the week prior it was 80º so I would guess in the spring and fall or on a good summer day it would be a great ride. Or on a cooler summer weekend. If you are driving through on the interstate it is worth a stop and don't forget to check the Micro brewery in Sylvan Grove [open thurs-sat, 2015]. We stayed in the state park campground and had no problems getting a spot on the lake for a good swim to recover the legs. Happy trails!

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Gnarly


August 25, 2015
 
Review: fun track lots of hills and sand. my second favorite trail. This trail is my personal favorite. Watch out for snakes. I have seen about 5 out there on the trail.

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Granny Gear

July 11, 2015
asparks65 Granny Gear  
 
Review: Nice trail. Nothing super about it but I was impressed that Kansas has a nice single track trail. It flows in and out and all over itself. Plenty of lava like rocks that will test your technical riding. Not sure it's up to the IMBA epic status though. If you're in the area it's definitely worth stopping as its close by the interstate. The campground is really nice and there are free showers (after you pay the $5 gate fee) to use after your ride if you're traveling!
If you're a racer you could knock the 22 miles out in 90min or so. It's an easy 2hr ride nonetheless. Kudos to the trail builders and maintenance peeps!

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Granny Gear

July 5, 2015
dmcewin Granny Gear  
 
Review: Awesome trail system. Spent the 4th weekend out there. Everyone was super friendly thanks to the park ranger for giving a ride back to the truck. Had a ruff weekend on the bike. 3 flats after I busted my bead off my tubeless. Some bigger drops than I would have liked my first time around. But would tackle almost all of them next time.

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Bunny Hop

June 25, 2015
 
Review: I only give this 4 stars because I can only imagine some trails could be better and I haven't ridden that many places. That said, this course is difficult and very technical at times, i probably stepped off/took a break around 10 times but it super fun and worth it. Some areas are difficult, but you can always walk them. Other sections flow for a long time, with some lovely riding along ridges that overlook the lake. This trail was pretty badass overall, we just camped on the lake that night... It also sheds water pretty quickly, we rode it in mist/light rain/over-cast weather but the trail held up fine

Similar Trail: Fall River

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Gramcounter


June 15, 2015
getgreedy Gramcounter  
 
Review: EPIC is right! Wow. This trail (particularly the rock garden) kicks my A**. This trail is a blast and incredibly scenic along the waters edge. You ride on top of sandstone bluffs 20 plus feet above the lake. Great views and good times. There are 3 plus foot rock drops keep you on alert. Incredible trail for Kansas.

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Switchgrass MTB Trail 4.76 out of 5 based on 43 ratings. 43 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
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