Switchgrass

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

Intermediate
22.0
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
Trail Features
Trail features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
Directions to Trailhead
Get Directions
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Trail Q&A
Rider Questions
 

0

Q: How are the riding conditions at Wilson Lake? We got a ton of rain Kansas City overnight. -Guest

A: I was out there yesterday, for the first time, and the trails were fine where I rode. I didn't ride the whole thing though. I didn't run into any mud at all.

jeepmudder answered on June 19, 2017. Did you find this helpful? Yes | No

Answer

 

0

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

No answers yet.

Answer

 
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Local Info & Nearby Trails
Trail Check-ins
Trail Check-ins
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Recent Trail Check-ins     (90 total check-ins)
  Cmattox   on Oct 27, 2018
  Cmattox   on Oct 27, 2018
  michaelschafer01   on Oct 24, 2018
  rebeccaisabelle   on Oct 19, 2018
  Cmattox   on Aug 9, 2018
Photo & Video Gallery (157)
Trail Photos & Videos (157)
 
Reviews (49)
 

Gramcounter

July 9, 2018
 
Review: I've been excited to ride switchgrass for a few years. This weekend I made the 4 hour drive down. Like others have said ,if you can avoid the heat that would be best. It trails were very well taken care of and marked. It is a beautiful area for sure. I think the trail was a little more than my bike could handle. ( And maybe me a bit to). I have a hard tailgate xc bike 100mm travel, with 29x 2.0 tires. There are alot of rocks along the path and I never was able to have any good flow. It would be much easier with full suspension and a wider tire. When I upgrade to a new bike....hopefully soon... I will definitely make another trip down and ride it again. .

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Granny Gear

April 11, 2018
Rmhchs Granny Gear  
 
Review: Very well maintained . . . Great scenery

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Trailblazer


July 24, 2017
Midmoab Trailblazer  
 
Review: Granted we rode in 100 degree heat....but I did not find this trail to be all too interesting. We rode the eastern hell creek loop. Although I am sure that with multiple rides and more familiarity one could really fly, we did not have that advantage. The terrain is relatively similar throughout. A narrow dirt and flint path with long grass on both sides, some drops and flowing ups and downs. Not much variety, not many obstacles, no shade, no trees. If I were in the area I would ride it again, but I would not make this a travel destination.

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Granny Gear

October 31, 2016
 
Review: I made the trip here last summer and it was an amazing time. This trail is marked out well and maintained well also. It has a little bit of everything on a ride, smooth sections, rock gardens, sand, and some nice views. This is a staple on my list for every summer now, it is worth the weekend trip for me.

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Bunny Hop

October 7, 2016
halfdome Bunny Hop  
 
Review: Parts are so overgrown that it affects the shifting

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Gramcounter

September 21, 2016
ITP78 Gramcounter  
 
Review: Well worth the trip from KC.

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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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Epic


October 14, 2015
mongwolf Epic  
 
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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Epic

October 23, 2015
Guest Epic  
 
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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Switchgrass MTB Trail 4.71 out of 5 based on 49 ratings. 49 user reviews.
Trail Conditions
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