The trail is built on the former right of way of the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Galveston Railroad from Ottawa, Kansas, to Iola, Kansas. The trail runs 50 miles from its northern terminus at Ottawa, Kansas to its southern terminus at Iola, Kansas.
The trail is open for use by hikers, joggers, and bicyclists year-round, from sunrise to sunset. This trail is paved with a hard-packed limestone screening outside of the city limits of Ottawa, Garnett, and Iola. Inside Ottawa, Garnett, and Iola, the trail is paved with asphalt. A Kansas State Park vehicle permit is not required, but a separate trail permit (daily/annual) must be purchased for those using the trail outside the city limits of Ottawa, Garnett, and Iola.
During flooding in June 2007, a section of the bridge carrying the trail over Pottawatomie Creek north of Garnett washed out. The bridge has since been replaced.
The trail's northern terminus is located at the Old Depot Museum in Ottawa, Kansas at . The Museum and terminus of the trail is located just north of the Marais Des Cygnes River in downtown Ottawa. From Ottawa, the trail heads south and detours from the right of way to cross under Interstate 35 at its intersection with US Highway 59.
Continuing to the south from Ottawa, the trail hits two small railroad towns, Princeton and Richmond. Garnett, located about midway on the 50-mile (80 km) right of way between Ottawa and Iola features a restored Santa Fe depot which is used as the city's trailhead. The depot serves as a rest stop for trail users, as well as an information center for the city.
Phase 3 of the trail spans from Welda, Kansas, to Iola, Kansas, passing the small towns of Colony and Carlyle. Colony and Iola trailheads feature both restrooms and water, while the Carlyle trailhead has only a single restroom without water. Trail mile markers for phase three include mile 99 at Colony, mile 104 at Carlyle, Kansas, and mile 109 at the Iola terminating trailhead at .
The trail has been developed southward from the Iola trailhead to the town of Humboldt, about nine miles, led through the efforts of Thrive Allen County, a community organization, and the Allen County local government. This extension is named the Southwind Rail-Trail, and opened to the public on June 10, 2013.  Future aspirations of the trail include intersecting the future Flint Hills Nature Trail, a 117-mile (188 km) trail currently[ when?] under construction connecting Herington, Kansas, to the west, and Osawatomie, Kansas, to the east, in Ottawa. The eastern section from Ottawa to Osawatomie is completed. This trail is also part of the ambitious Quad-State Trail project which will connect trails together in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.  The project also includes the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri.
The park is routinely patrolled by staff of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and other law-enforcement agencies. Only non-motorized vehicles, and motorized wheelchairs, are allowed. A daily-use per-person permit is $3.50, and may be purchased at self-pay stations located at the Ottawa, Princeton, Richmond, Garnett, Welda, Carlyle, and Iola trail heads. Annual-use per-person permits are $12.50 and may be bought at sites in Ottawa, Garnett, and Iola. No permit is required for those age 15 or younger, or for use within the cities of Ottawa, Iola and Garnett.  
- "Ribbon Cut on Southwind Rail-Trail, June 10, 2013". Iola Register. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
- "Quad-State Trail version 2". Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-09. Retrieved 2013-04-24. City of Garnett
- http://kdwpt.state.ks.us/news/State-Parks/Park-Fees/ Kansas State Parks
- "Prairie Spirit Trail State Park". Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
- Friends of the Prairie Spirit Trail
- "Prairie Spirit Trail" (PDF) (Trail maps). Friends of the Prairie Spirit Rail Trail. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
- Prairie Spirit Trail at Singletracks.com
- Prairie Spirit Rail Trail at MTB Project
- Prairie Spirit Trail State Park at TrailLink.com
- Prairie Spirit Trail at TrailForks.com