This ride features several types of terrain, including singletrack, rail-trail, gravel roads, dirt roads, and pavement. This ride will test both your bike-handling skills and your stamina! A trail-capable bike is recommended.
The route begins at Riverside Park in Iola, and follows Vine Street east through town, hooking up with Nevada Road over Rock Creek, and following paved back roads to the Lehigh Portland Trails, a new trail system under construction on the grounds of the old Lehigh Portland Cement Company. There are currently about 4-5 miles of trails open (of a projected 8-10) and in various states of completion. There will be volunteers on hand to lead riders through the singletrack trails, winding through cedars, hardwoods, and prairie environments, along the majestic bluffs surrounding the Quarry Lake, through the Ozarks-like terrain along Elm Creek, and atop the harrowing peaks of Mt. Lehigh.
From the Lehigh Portland Trails, the route heads west to Old US-169 highway, then south, eventually hitting gravel roads to Humboldt. In Humboldt, riders can self-SAG at the local convenience stores,, check out the local sights, including the historic downtown square and history museum, then head west across the Neosho River (be sure to check out the great Riverfront Park, with its views of the elegant Rainbow Arch bridge and low-water dam), then back onto gravel west and then north towards Piqua, through the eastern-most verges of the Flint Hills region.
In Piqua, stop by the amazing St. Martins Catholic church for a self-guided tour, as well as the Buster Keaton Museum and Silverado;s Bar, a local watering hole.
From Piqua, ride north then back east on gravel and dirt roads, passing old farmhouses, abandoned quarries, and bluffs over the Neosho River valley. Eventually, the route hits US-54 highway, with a wide paved shoulder back into Iola.
Note: For an added challenge, finish up the route with a loop on the grassy surface of the flood-control levy at Riverside Park!
This route is self-guided and self-supported. Be sure to take everything you need for a several-hour ride — water, snacks, a patch kit and pump, etc. A cell phone with navigation maps is recommended. There will be a refuel opportunity in Humboldt, but the route is otherwise rural and remote.
If you use a GPS cyclocomputer or a smartphone app that can handle GPX files, you can download the GPS Track to your computer, then upload it to your device. Most devices will provide turn-by-turn directions to allow you to easily follow the route without worrying about missing turns or getting lost.