Bucket List Adventures: Konza Prairie

Josh Wise, 2015 K-State alum and girlfriend Rachel Nyhart, senior in anthropology, hike the Konza Prairie on June 5, 2015. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

Growing up, there were two things that kid-me always made sure to have in the pockets of my overalls: cookies and tree leaves. The former is because children know how to love life, and the latter is because children also know where to live life.

I’ve always loved being outside, but during the school year there are some days where I’m only outdoors when walking to campus. So I’ve been looking for great outdoor activities in Manhattan — a major driving force in creating my college bucket list. If you’re looking for a nature hike, I highly recommend the Konza Prairie Biological Station.

“The Konza Prairie is a park that preserves the area in its natural state,” Max Dunlap, senior in applied music, said. “There are trails that go through the park with each trail at some point going over a hill, which allows you to see over the surrounding area.”

There are three trails to choose from: The Nature Trail is 2.5 miles, the Kings Creek Loop is 4.4 miles, and the Godwin Hill Loop is 6 miles. Sunday afternoon, I hiked The Nature Trail with my adventure crew, consisting of Josh Wise, 2015 K-State alum; Jamie Teixeira, desk editor for the Kansas State Collegian and senior in English; Brandon Bienhoff, senior in construction science and management; and Emily Starkey, Collegian photographer and freshman in journalism.

Even though the Konza is fun to hike with friends, it’s also relaxing to go alone.

“The Konza is just one of those places where I’m feeling really stressed out about something, I know I can go there,” Kristen Graham, senior in psychology, said. “There’s literally nothing else but nature out there. I can just reconnect with what my purpose is, with what I’m supposed to be doing – take a breath, take a breather and then get back into the swing of things. I really like it.”

Let me give a couple pro-tips each of us realized on our hike: tackle the large hill first, bring water, be prepared to sweat, don’t eat Cheetos you find on the ground and please, stay on the trail.

I was bummed to learn that one of the rules of the biological station is that you can’t remove any nature-related items, so reliving my childhood by filling my pockets with leaves wasn’t an option. That’s probably for the best, however, as the Konza is all about conservation. It’s best to leave nature where other people can enjoy it.

For instance, Dunlap said that when he visits the Konza he likes to observe the different insects that can be found there.

“It’s amazing how much more you notice when you take the time to slow down and look more closely at what’s surrounding you,” Dunlap said.

Since hiking the Konza Prairie is both fun and beautiful — you can see the rolling Flint Hills for miles! — let’s keep it clean of litter and deviant feet. Not only is the Konza living history with current ecological value, it is also one of the many beautiful aspects of Manhattan.

Rachel Nyhart is a senior in anthropology.