Mountain biking the Switchgrass mountain bike trails in Kansas

Mountain biker riding on trail next to Wilson Lake Reservoir in Switchgrass trail network in Kansas

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Kansas may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of awesome singletrack, but the Switchgrass mountain bike trails in central Kansas are totally worth a visit, especially if you find yourself driving east or west on I-70.

Located in Wilson State Park near Wilson, Kansas, this 9,000-acre recreational area is home to 25+ miles of super fun and flowy singletrack with stunning views out over the Wilson Lake reservoir.

Most of the trails are cross-country and pedally, but I was pleasantly surprised to find some techy Moab-style rock gardens and a bit of slickrock as well.

As an added bonus, you can find great camping in the park and lots of other outdoor activities like swimming, fishing, and watersports. So next time you’re headed through Kansas, be sure to stop and check out the Switchgrass trail network!

Where are the Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trails?

The Switchgrass mountain bike trails are located in Wilson State Park about 10 miles north of the city of Wilson in central Kansas. The state park is pretty much right off I-70, making it a great stop if you’re traveling east or west across the country (as we were when we visited!).

Mountain biker riding on singletrack Switchgrass trail through field in Kansas

Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail Map

The Switchgrass mountain bike trails are well marked at each intersection with the map below. Follow the “Epic Loop” signs to ride the full Switchgrass bike trail or take the “Cutoff” routes to make the loop shorter.

Map of Switchgrass mountain bike trails in Kansas

Best time to mountain bike in Wilson State Park

The best time to mountain bike the Switchgrass trails is late fall or late spring. Summer in Kansas can get extremely hot (high 90’s – 100’s), so I don’t recommend visiting in peak summer. We rode Wilson State Park in early October and it was comfortably in the low 70’s. Kansas does get snow between November and March, so check weather conditions before planning your trip.

Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail Descriptions

Birdy Loop

The Birdy Loop is the southwesternmost loop in the Switchgrass mountain bike trail network. It winds 2.3 miles through some beautiful poplar groves and is almost entirely flat with a hard, fast surface.

It’s flowy and fun and a great quick spin! If you’re a birder, this is also a great trail to catch glimpses of the area’s songbirds.

  • Trail difficulty: Easy
  • Mileage: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 80 ft
Mountain biker riding through grove of poplar trees in Switchgrass trail network in Kansas
The Birdy Loop is a quick, fast, easy pedal through pretty forest

EZ Loop

EZ Loop is another great beginner trail. It traverses through some fields with beautiful views out over the lake and lots of fun, flowy sections. Combine EZ Loop with Birdy Loop for a great 5.3-mile beginner-friendly ride.

  • Trail difficulty: Easy
  • Mileage: 3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 110 feet
Mountain biker riding along singletrack trail next to Wilson Reservoir in Kansas
Part of the EZ Loop runs along the shores of Lake Wilson

Golden Belt Loop

Golden Belt, despite being rated an intermediate blue trail on TrailForks, was actually more challenging than I expected. There are a number of technical rocky sections mixed in with fast flow.

If you plan on doing the full Switchgrass bike trail epic, Golden Belt connects the two main trail networks east and west.

Expect some mellow climbs, punchy rock features (that may need to be walked), and great views out over the lake and marina.

  • Trail difficulty: Intermediate/Expert
  • Mileage: 4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 601 feet
Mountain biker riding on technical rocky section of trail in Switchgrass trail network in Kansas
The Golden Belt Loop has some technical Moab-style rock features

Rock Garden

Rock Garden is by far the most technical trail out of the whole Switchgrass network. It starts off with a flowy descent and then hits a rock band with some Moab-style rock features – both up and down.

Depending on your skills, everything is rideable but may take a few tries. If you want to skip Rock Garden, just stay right at the top of the hill on the Golden Belt Loop.

  • Trail difficulty: Intermediate/Expert
  • Mileage: 0.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 90 feet
Mountain biker pedaling up technical and rocky section of trail in Switchgrass Trail Network in Kansas with views of lake behind him
Rock Garden has some technical and steep rock gardens

Marina Loop

Marina Loop is rated black on TrailForks, but I would say it’s definitely more of a blue. I actually found it easier than the Golden Belt Loop, which is a blue (intermediate) on TrailForks. There are some steep, loose sections, but they’re short and you can typically see them coming. There are also a few areas that are washed out and eroded, but for the most part, all the trails are well maintained.

Marina Loop, as would be expected, has great views of the marina and traverses the edge of Wilson Lake. It’s super scenic and fun!

  • Trail difficulty: Intermediate
  • Mileage: 3.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 637 feet
Mountain biker far away on singletrack trail in Kansas with reservoir on left side and boats in marina
Marina Loop is a nice, mostly easy pedal with great views of the lake

Brokebike Mtn

Brokebike Mtn was my favorite section of trail in the Switchgrass mountain bike trail network. It climbs around and up a small hill for great views out over the lake and then descends back down on the other side on a fast, flowy section.

The coolest part of this trail is the last stretch that traverses a rocky ledge above a narrow inlet. There are a few tricky, technical sections that, if gone wrong, could land you in the lake. So walk if needed!

  • Trail difficulty: Intermediate/Expert
  • Mileage: 2.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 383 feet
Singletrack mountain bike trails in Switchgrass trail network winding down a hill with Wilson Lake reservoir in background
Brokebike Mountain was my favorite section of trail for the flowy singletrack and views

Hell Creek Loop

Hell Creek Loop is the longest loop in the network and it also feels like the most ‘remote’. The first half traverses the shoreline of the easternmost inlet of Wilson Lake and is routed through some super cool terrain with awesome views. The trail then double backs on itself and follows a ridgeline before descending back down to the lake.

  • Trail difficulty: Intermediate
  • Mileage: 5.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 561 feet
Mountain biker riding on lakeside trail in switchgrass trail network in Kansas

Riding the full Switchgrass Bike Trail epic

If you’re up for a big 23+ mile ride with about 1,800 feet of climbing, you can link up almost every inch of trail in Wilson State Park. This ride is known as the Switchgrass Bike Trail epic and it covers a variety of terrain with great views of the lake and surrounding hills.

While it doesn’t have much sustained climbing or descending, be prepared to pedal almost the entire loop. It’s also very exposed, so bring lots of water and sunscreen and don’t underestimate the heat and sun! We rode the loop in October and I definitely felt the sun exposure and drank 3L of water. Be sure to bring the mountain bike pack essentials and lots of snacks.

You can start anywhere along the loop, but I recommend starting at the main parking area near the Switchgrass camping area. If you’re not camping, there is a parking lot for your car. Starting here gets the most technical riding out of the way first and you end on the fun, fast, and flowy EZ and Birdy Loops.

The route is well marked with “Epic Loop”. If you’re done, there are “Cut off” options to get you back to your car faster.

Switchgrass Epic

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate with good fitness
  • Mileage: 23 miles
  • Elevation gain/loss: 1,824 feet
  • Route type: Loop
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks, MTB Project

Route directions: Route directions: Main Parking > Golden Belt > Rock Garden > Golden Belt > Marina Loop > Brokeback Mtn > Hell Creek Loop > Marina Loop > Cabin Hill > Birdy Loop > EZ Loop

Bail options: There are several cut-off points throughout the route if you need to bail.

Mountain bike trail map in Switchgrass Trail Network in Kansas showing "Epic Loop" and "Cut Off" options

Shorter ride options

If you’re not up for the full Switchgrass Mountain Bike Trail Loop, there are plenty of options for shorter rides. My two shorter ride recommendations would be:

  1. Marina Loop + Brokebike Mtn + Hell Creek Loop. This loop is 13 miles and has about 1,500 feet of climbing. Even though TrailForks rates Marina Loop and Brokebike Mtn Loop as black/advanced trails, I would say they’re more blue/intermediate. There is some minor exposure on Brokebike Mtn.
  2. Birdy Loop + EZ Loop + Golden Belt. This loop is 7 miles and has about 420 feet of climbing. Surprisingly, I thought that Golden Belt Loop was more challenging and technical than either Marina Loop or Brokebike Mtn. That being said, the techy parts are easily walked. You can add on Rock Garden if you’re up for some Moab-style rocky tech.

Other things to do in Wilson State Park

Wilson State Park encompasses more than 9,000 acres including the giant Wilson Lake Reservoir, so there is plenty to do in addition to mountain biking the Switchgrass trails.

Here are a few other things to do in Wilson State Park:

  • Boating – take your motorboat, sailboat, kayak, canoe, or paddleboard out on the reservoir
  • Swimming – there are several swimming beaches throughout Wilson State Park that are perfect for taking a dip to cool off. Dogs are not allowed on swimming beaches
  • Fishing – Wilson Lake reservoir is stocked with a variety of fish including channel catfish, largemouth and spotted bass, crappie, bluegill, and redear. Permits are required for fishing.
  • Birding – during our mountain bike ride, we saw a ton of different birds, especially on the Birdy and EZ loops. I’m not a birder, so I can’t tell you what they were, but there were a lot of them!
  • Camping – Wilson State Park has a ton of different camping opportunities from primitive sites to RV sites with water and electricity. If you want to mountain bike the Switchgrass trails, I recommend snagging a campsite in Switchgrass or Grama.
  • Road biking – The paved roads in Wilson State Park would make for some great and scenic road cycling. I’m not sure how many miles you could put together with all the loops, but I’d guess around 15-20 miles.
Travato camper van parked in campsite at Wilson State Park in Kansas with mountain bikes and dog out front
The camping in Wilson State Park is really nice!

Have you ridden the Switchgrass mountain bike trails in Wilson State Park, Kansas? What questions or suggestions do you have? Let us know in the comments below!

Learn everything you need to know about the Switchgrass mountain bike trails in Kansas plus a few other things to do in Wilson State Park
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