Today, we visited the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. It is an old farm/ranch in the Flint Hills surrounded by some of the last remaining tallgrass in the country. The walk around the barn, house, and accompanying buildings is fairly short, but we did a bit more exploring on the trails and got in some relatively significant mileage today.
The first hike was about three miles round trip to the old one room school house which was operational from mid-1850s to around 1930. The part that was most interesting were the rules for teachers. For women, you could not dye your hair, be out of the house from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless it was a school function, no socializing in the ice cream parlor, restricted dating/marriage. For men, most notably was that you could go on a date only one night a week unless you were active in the church in which case you could go out two nights a week.
The second hike was almost six miles round trip and went along an old gravel road to a scenic overlook. The trail goes through a large pasture that supposedly is home to a somewhat aggressive buffalo herd, so we were cautioned (on the map & by the ranger) to be extremely careful and stay far away from the buffalo. We figured that we’ve hiked in enough places with bison that it shouldn’t be too big of a deal, but we were alert and watching out as we walked. Of course, we didn’t even see a single buffalo anywhere, even off in the distance. A little disappointing, but we know we’ll see plenty if them later in the trip.
Also to note, the scenic part of Kansas, which this area is, needs to be taken under consideration of what the rest of the state looks like. This area is pretty, with lots of rolling hills and tallgrass, but it pales in comparison to Yellowstone or the Rocky Mountains.
We did manage to find an Army Corps of Engineers campground right on a lake not far from the Preserve. The sites are nice and well shaded and the facilities, which include flush toilets and showers, seem to be well kept. This definitely turned out to be a good alternative to our original plans.
We did decide to only spend one day at Tallgrass (we originally thought two days), so we’ll be moving on a little further west tomorrow and will continue to figure things out as we go!
Tonight, we are continuing to enjoy overcast skies (the only thing that made hiking through the prairie bearable) and some relaxation by the water!