Kansas’ landscape of wide-open plains and untouched prairies makes for an impeccable birdwatching destination. Whether you’re searching for an elegant heron or sprightly goldfinch, these birdwatching hikes will provide a blissful retreat into nature. Here are our favorites.
Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is a 41,000-acre lowland that is home to hundreds of Kansas’ bird species. It’s estimated that over 45 percent of North America’s shorebird population stops in the basin during their migration north in the spring. It’s primarily a wetland habitat and offers endless birdwatching for the more than 60,000 people who visit annually.
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is constantly rated as one of the top birdwatching destinations in the United States. Over 344 species have been recorded in this massive wetland and being in the middle of the country, it offers birdwatchers a mix of western and eastern species. Hike along one of the many mudflats or shorelines and you are sure to see tons of long-legged waders like herons and cranes.
The Jamestown Wildlife Area offers over 3,000 acres of beautiful wetlands and uplands full of a variety of bird species. A popular area to visit is the Jamestown Lake where you can go on a quick hike. The area offers excellent wildlife viewing and photographing opportunities. Be on the lookout for a variety of waterfowl and other migrating shorebirds!
The George Stumps Nature Trail is a great place to bring friends or family for a leisurely stroll through southeastern side of the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area. The paved trail is located at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, next to the center, and offers over a half mile hike through Kansas wildlife such as woodrats, deer, and many species of birds.
The Emporia Cottonwood River Trail a great natural trail that runs along the Cottonwood River and offers a secluded area great for birdwatching. The trail is just under a mile long and easily hiked or can also be accessed by bike. You can access the trail from Peter Pan Park and quickly spend a few hours there observing beautiful Kansas bird species.
The Ernie Miller Nature Center was the first nature center in Kansas and has a great hiking trail called the Ernie Miller Bittersweet Trail that is home to varying species of birds including chickadees and goldfinch. The 116-acre nature preserve also has an education center with exhibits and programs for the whole family to enjoy.
The George Latham Trail can be found along the western side of Clinton Lake and is a 4.5-mile trail open solely for hikers. The trail offers a mix of wooded areas and open grasslands that are filled with hundreds of species of native Kansas birds. Trailheads are found along the northwest corner and southeast corner of the parking area.