No Sofa Sunday: Fun in the Flint Hills!

Welcome to our first No Sofa Sunday blog post! Every Sunday we have made it our goal to get up, get out and explore the outdoors!

On Sunday, July 9 we decided to explore the Flint Hills of Kansas. We packed a cooler, backpack and our camera and set out on our way. The Flint Hills is a region of eastern Kansas and north central Oklahoma that contains the largest intact tallgrass prairie in North America. Though there are many wonderful places in Kansas to experience the Flint Hills, we decided to visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City, KS, approximately 2 hours from our home in Kansas City. With a 3 ½ year old and a 14 –month old, 2 hours is about all we can handle in the car at a time. Luckily the kids slept the whole way there so the drive was easy and beautiful!

Our first stop was the visitor center to collect our trail map and learn any helpful tips. We discovered that there was a bus tour that drove along the trail which would eventually become a life saver! With our map in hand we headed back to the car to slather on sunscreen and eat some lunch. It was 93 degrees, so we realized we were in for a long day!

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The Flint Hills are…you guessed it…very hilly! We began our hike on a gradual uphill. I have been told many times that the Flint Hills are strikingly beautiful and I can confirm that they are stunning! The landscape consists of rolling green hills as far as the eye can see, small ponds are scattered here and there, and colorful flowers are sprinkled throughout the tall grass. There were lovely wildflowers along the trail and butterflies fluttering around us, all of which captivated Edie. Though she absolutely will not touch an insect, Edie loves examining them from a comfortable distance!

We continued to make our way up and over the hills, Elliot in the ErgoBaby with Brian and Edie walking alongside me. There was not a cloud in the sky so the sun was beaming down on us and it was HOT. We hiked for about 2 miles on the gravel trail until the kids needed a reprieve from walking in the heat. Luckily the bus approached us at just the right moment and we hopped on! The bus drove us along the remainder of the trail and the driver/Park Ranger told us about the history of the prairie. We did not see much wildlife, but we did pass a female collared lizard and even some bison way, way out in the distance.

The bus stopped at the peak of a hill and we all got out to once again experience the vast beauty of the preserve. Edie ran around chasing butterflies while Elliot clung to me and we took in our surroundings. Naturally, Brian was taking pictures! After admiring the landscape we got back onto the bus and finished the trail. Once back at the visitor’s center we decided to in the car and drive along the scenic byway. We drove from Strong City to Matfield Green, population 47! The scenic byway was more gorgeous greenery, cattle and farms. After about an hour on the byway we were on our way back to Kansas City.

It was amazing to experience a whole new place and landscape so close to our home! We can’t wait to explore the Flint Hills more and we hope to camp next time we visit. We highly recommend experiencing this unique part of the Midwest!

Sarah Biggerstaff