Gravel Routes

All routes are tentative and subject to change depending on gravel conditions, construction, etc. Stay tuned to our Facebook page and website for any additional changes to the routes. Most of the routes are about 80% gravel, but do have some paved sections.


There will be a catered dinner at Council Grove High School following the day’s rides. Click on the links in the titles to see the full Ride with GPS routes.

Route 1 – Gravel Short

Total Miles: 28
Elevation: +794/-790 ft

Route 2 – Gravel Medium

Total Miles: 35
Elevation: +1236/-1237 ft

Route 3 – Gravel Long

Total Miles: 50
Elevation: +1955/-1956 ft

Notes on Saturday Gravel Routes

There are 3 gravel routes for Saturday – 28, 35 and 50 miles.   All three routes will start out going West from Council Grove on Hwy 56 for just under 2 miles and turn left onto Helmick Road.

When you turn on to Helmick Road from Hwy 56 west of Council Grove you are traveling on the Santa Fe Trail.  The trail went west of Council Grove by either going over a hill to the north or along Elm Creek where Helmick Road is now.  You can imagine the northern route was probably used when the area along the creek was muddy.

When you get to 1400 Road, you can ride north about a mile and see a nice cut in the ditch where wagon wheels dug into the bank.  

In fact, the whole area on 1400 Road between Helmick Road and what is now Hwy 56 was covered with trail ruts.  Only a few remain due to cultivating the land and erosion.

If you are doing the Short 28 mile route continue north to V Ave and head west to the SAG at Wilsey.

If you are doing the Medium 35 mile route or the Long 50 mile route continue on Helmick Rd.  Just past 1450 Rd. the gravel turns to dirt at a low water crossing at about mile 7.   The dirt, low maintenance, section can be a little rough but it evens out in about half a mile.   If it is too muddy or not to your liking you can always turn back to 1450 Road and go North to V Ave.  Then take that west to the SAG at Wilsey.

All 3 routes head south out of Wilsey on 1800 Rd.

South of Wilsey on 1800 Road is probably one of the easiest places to see Santa Fe Trail Ruts.  The visual description of the ruts is that of “swales” on the land, almost as if it was a rolling sea. Swales are usually lined up 8 or 9 feet wide and very deep.  Wagon masters would use double and triple teams of oxen and mules for the trip across the plains.  

The Santa Fe Trail was more of a highway for heavy wagons carrying goods from East to West and back again with large oxen or mule teams doing the work.   

Think of these as the “big rigs” of their day carrying commerce.  Even when railroads first started to cross the area, more tonnage of goods could still be transported by wagon and team.

The Short route takes Y Ave. east to 1400 Rd. and returns to Helmick Rd. where you turn east back toward town

The Medium and Long routes continue south on 1500 Rd. to BB Rd. (which eventually becomes 4 Mile Rd.).  Heading east you will come to two creek crossings – one at Mile 20 and another at Mile 21.5.  These are easy to cross, if we haven’t had too much rain.  Otherwise, be prepared to carefully negotiate the creek crossings.

Under normal conditions this section of the ride is a great lot of fun.

The Medium and Long routes return north on 4 Mile Rd.  The Medium route turns north on 1000 Rd. and heads back to town. The Long route continues east on 4 Mile Rd., crosses Hwy 177 and travels east of Council Grove.   This will eventually loop north to Old Hwy 4 and back into town from the east.


A catered lunch will be served in Strong City for all riders.

Route 1 – Gravel Short

Total Miles: 66
Elevation: +2755/-2756 ft

Route 2 – Gravel Long

Miles: 73
Elevation: +2678/-2678 ft

Notes on Sunday Gravel Routes

There are two gravel routes for Sunday – 66 miles and 73 miles.  However, there are multiple points where you can mix and match your route for the day with partial segments on the Hwy 177 road route if you wish.

The most scenic route is the 73-mile loop that takes you down Diamond Creek Rd.

Both routes pass by the Father Padilla Monument just outside of Council Grove.  

You can see the monument on the hill and there is a roadside sign that tells the tale of how Father Padilla became the “the first American Martyr” in 1542.   

66 Mile Route

The 66 mile route offers a little more variety than last year on the northern section.  It starts out heading SW on 900 Rd. just out of town, continues onto 4 Mile road then on west to Z Ave. where it heads south again on 1400 Rd.  This will lead you to the SAG at the intersection of DD Rd. and Hwy 177.  

From there you travel south on 1000 Rd., eventually taking V Rd. south.  Crossing Hwy 50, follow the turns to reach Old Hwy 50 and then on west into Strong City.  Take Cottonwood St. (Hwy 177) south and then the Community Corridor Trail to the Cottonwood Falls bridge.  

After exploring Cottonwood Falls, return to Strong City and lunch at the Jacalito Family Restaurant.  Return the same way you came on Old Hwy 50, back to V Rd. north and hit the SAG again at DD and Hwy 177. 

From there, take 850 Rd. north and follow the turns back to Council Grove.

73 Mile Route

The 73-mile route starts by following the short route out of Council Grove but continues past the short route turn and keeps going west on Z Ave.  As the Flint Hills come into view, you veer left onto scenic CC Ave and then turn south on Diamond Creek Rd.  (You will be on Diamond Creek Rd. for about 19 miles before reaching Hwy 50 just north of Elmdale.)

Along Diamond Creek Rd. at mile 26 you will come to a curve in the road marking the now defunct settlement of Hymer.  This will be a self-serve water stop.  The ride organizers will drop off water and a box of snacks so you can load up before you continue on.   

Don’t forget to look for the buffalo!

When you reach Hwy 50, turn south for about 2 miles, then turn east into Elmdale and onto Lake Rd.   This scenic road takes you directly into Cottonwood Falls.   Explore CW Falls and then head across the Cottonwood Bridge onto the Community Corridor Trail for the lunch stop in Strong City at the Jacalito Family Restaurant.

To get back to Council Grove, head east out of Strong City on old Hwy 50 and then follow the turns to cross Hwy 50 on V Rd.  Follow the route north to the SAG at DD Rd. and Hwy 177.

From there, take 850 Rd. north and follow the turns back into Council Grove.


There will be a catered picnic lunch after the ride back at Council Grove High School.

Route 1 – Gravel Short

Total Miles: 40
Elevation: +1041/-1041 ft

Route 2 – Gravel Medium

Total Miles: 42
Elevation: +1319/-1319 ft

Route 3 – Gravel Long

Total Miles: 51
Elevation: +1796/-1796 ft

Notes on Monday Gravel Routes

There are three gravel routes for Monday – 40, 42 and 51 miles.  All three travel on the Flint Hills Nature Trail at some point.  And all three will make a stop at Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park and the SAG at Basecamp Flint Hills in Allen, KS.

Short Route – 40 Miles

The entire route is on the Flint Hills Nature Trail to Allen and back.  The trail is well maintained and consists of packed crushed limestone.  Under normal conditions a road bike can navigate the trail easily.  So even if you didn’t bring your gravel bike you should still be able to ride the trail to Allen and back.

This may not sound like a short route, but it is only about 20 miles to Allen from Council Grove on the Flint Hills Nature Trail.  Allow at least two hours to reach Allen and another two to get back after the SAG stop.   If you leave CG by at least 8 AM you should be back in CG by 12:30 pm – just in time for the box lunch at the High School.

The good news is it is mostly downhill on the return trip. 

At about 4 miles into the ride you will come across the Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park (the site of the Kaw Indian Reservation in the 1860s).   

Give yourself some time to explore the area, which includes the remains of the Govt. Indian Agent’s home, the Kanza Monument on the hill, and large emblems of the Kaw Nation stationed along the hiking trail in the park.

More info here: 

Allegawaho Park

Reconnections Historic Council Grove

Link to Park Map: Kanza Heritage Trail

Medium Route – 42 Miles 

The start point is the same as the Short Route and passes by Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park (as noted above).   

Continue east past the park to the first turn onto gravel at 200 Rd (about 7 miles into the ride).  Turning south, you quickly turn east on Y Ave.  Follow the turns until you reach Rd. J and intersect again with the FHNT.  Turn east for about 2 miles into Allen and the SAG at Basecamp Flint Hills. 

The return trip to Council Grove is on the FHNT.

Long Route – 51 Miles

Just like the other two routes, make a stop at Allegawaho Park but then turn north from there on 525 Rd. Cross Hwy 56 on 500 Rd, then east on R Ave.  

Turning south on 200 Rd. (and just before reaching Hwy 56) you will come across Santa Fe Trail Ruts on the west side of the road.  On the east side is a parking lot and signage describing the Rock Creek Crossing on the Santa Fe Trail.

If you have time, take the hiking trail from the parking lot over to Rock Creek.  If you don’t want to spend ride time at Rock Creek, you can always return in your car and survey the area later.

Cross Hwy 56 and follow 200 Rd.  Stay on 200 Rd. and cross the Flint Hills Nature Trail.  Then turn east on Y Ave. Follow the turns until you reach J Rd. then turn east on FHNT for about 2 miles to the SAG at Allen.

The return trip to Council Grove is on the FHNT.