General Overview of Trail
The American Discovery Trail through Kansas is 570 miles long and begins in Johnson County on its eastern border by crossing the Blue River on a wooden plank bridge on the outskirts of Leawood. Much of the trail in Kansas follows the same general path as the Santa Fe Trail (Highway 56 is actually the road that was designed to follow the trail). While on the ADT in Kansas you will walk in the footsteps of the pioneers, the great Plains Indian Tribes and many a western hero or bandit. You will see the unique geological formations of Kansas, follow the rivers, view the gorgeous Flint Hills and Smoky Hills and watch birds at the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge. The majority of the route through the Sunflower State is on paved or gravel back roads. About 28 miles of the route in Johnson County is on paved bike trails. There is a rail-to-trail and trail realignment effort in progress that will substantially improve the route between Lawrence and Herington.
As you venture westward the distance between towns increases and the sources of clean water become more and more rare. There are many streams and rivers in the central section, however, purification is a necessity. Further west water is less plentiful and the area can be very dry at times. Weather can be fairly unpredictable in the state and can become severe very quickly. Remember that you are in "tornado alley" (during spring and summer) and that heat indices can reach 110+ degrees F (43C). Winter blizzards, especially in western Kansas, can create whiteouts with wind chills of «50 degrees F (-45C) or lower.
Detailed Trail Description
Total length of the trail in Kansas is 570 miles, consisting of eight segments, mostly on roads or road shoulders.
Leawood (MO line) to Lawrence 52 miles
Lawrence to Herington 127 miles
Herington to McPherson 58 miles
McPherson to Great Bend 75 miles
Great Bend to Kinsley 56 miles
Kinsley to Dodge City 53 miles
Dodge City to Garden City 64 miles
Garden City to Coolidge (CO line) 78 miles