Start your route in Manhattan Kansas and head south on route 177. Stay on 177 all the way down to the route's end at El Dora State Park.
This is the famous Flint Hills area of Kansas known for its stretch of rolling hills located in eastern Kansas.This prairie land is covered in a blanket of wildflowers and tall-grasses.The flowers include sunflowers and coneflowers and the tall-grass can reach as high as 8-feet!This route's beauty comes from its survival from agricultural exploitation.When settlers first passed through this area about 150 years ago they largely left it undeveloped because of its rough and rocky underlying surface.Its limestone and flint foundation made it difficult to plow and because of that it was left untouched by farmers.The northern part of the route offers views of many limestone outcroppings.Heading south the hills stretch out and broad views of expansive prairies will keep you fascinated.
Update from mudscout in May of 2017: "This route covers one of the wonders of KS, The Flint Hills, if you are in a hurry, don't take this route. Cause there is lots of places to pull over and look across the Hills and see for miles. If you have ever wondered what the open country really looks like. I Think this is a route that at some point in time every rider should catch."
The roads are hilly and have a lot of twists and turns. Watch for waterfalls along the roadside in the spring. There are stretches where little amenities are available. If going off into a canyon or wilderness area, be sure you have plenty of gas and drinking water.
Update from mudscout in May of 2017: "A lot of sweeping curves, but some great straight away's with hills. The pavement is in good shape. But this is a Country road, so watch out for the locals that are busy working."
Below is a list of amenities along this route you may be interested in visiting. They are described from north to south: - The city of Manhattan is at the route's beginning and home of Kansas State University. Apparently the town got started back in 1855 when a boat carrying settlers from Cincinnati ran aground at the nearby Kansas River. In this town you will find plenty of eating and lodging accommodations. - If you would like to see the country's largest parcel of virgin tall-grass prairie you can stop by the Konza Prairie Research Natural Area (west on Rte. 901 for about 5 miles. You can pick up a brochure and lead yourself on a self guided tour of the protected prairie land which offers three well marked touring trails. - Council Grove Lake - there are some nice turnouts to give you great views of this lake. - Council Grove is a town you will pass along the way that served as an important supply stop for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Local Indians sold rights of passage through this area for $800 and the trunk of the tree, known as Council Oak, where the agreement was signed, is located under a gazebo at 210 East Main. You can learn more about the history of the area by checking out the Kaw Mission State Historic Site. The site houses Native American artifacts in a 1850s Indian School. - Don't miss the Z-Bar Ranch located two miles north of Strong City. You can take a tour of this 'three-story Second Empire style' ranch built in 1881 by the ultra-wealthy cattle baron S.F. Jones. The entire structure and its surrounding outbuildings are all built of limestone. This area is set to become a national preserve to allow buffalo and antelope to once again roam freely. - In Cottonwood Falls you will want to stop by this tiny town to see the astounding Chase County Courthouse. Built in 1873 the building is the oldest courthouse in Kansas still in use and this impressive three-story limestone structure built in French Renaissance-style offers tours tours on weekends Feb-Oct, open daily). Also located in Cottonwood is the Chase County Historical Society and Museum at 301 Broadway. - Cassoday Kansas is the 'Prairie Chicken Capitol of the World' and home of a large population of the interesting prairie chicken. - El Dorado Lake - here you can take advantage of the park's recreational opportunities. The town of El Dorado Lake offers Overland Wagon Trips on certain weekends in the summertime.
Update from mudscout in May of 2017: "Council Grove has pretty much anything you really need. Cotton wood falls does have fuel and a convenience store. Eldorado would be the largest town of them all."