Favorite Kansas parks and trails | Midwest Living

Favorite Kansas parks and trails

From hunting to scuba to fishing, Kansas parks and trails offer outdoor adventures for everyone.


Wilson Lake
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Eastern Kansas

OTTAWA: Prairie Spirit Trail Recently designated as a Kansas State Park, this 51-mile north-south trail extends from Ottawa south through Princeton, Richmond, Garnett, Welda, Colony and Carlyle to Iola. Composed of finely crushed and compacted limestone and virtually flat, the 12-foot-wide trail is suitable for most bikes. One-day permits ($3.50 for riders age 16 and older) can be purchased at kiosks at trailheads in each city. Keep in mind that most of the trail is rural and often lightly traveled except on weekends. Always be prepared with spare tires, a pump, rain jacket, cell phone, water and snacks. (785) 448-6767

LAWRENCE: Clinton Lake It’s easy to see why summer crowds pack Clinton Lake and surrounding park areas. Noted as one of the country’s top  50 boating lakes, its steady winds and large stretches of glistening water attract motorboats, water-skiers, sailboats and windsurfers. Sandy beaches and four playgrounds entertain kids. Hiking and mountain biking trails wind through wooded ravines along the lake’s north shore, and a skills loop challenges experienced mountain bikers. For runners and bikers, a network of paved trails affords easy access to shops and restaurants in nearby Lawrence. A full-service marina offers boat slips, supplies and equipment rentals. (785) 842-8562

CHERRYVALE: Big Hill Lake The bass and catfish always take the bait at Big Hill Lake. After catching your fill, stroll through oak woodlands and bluestem prairies on the mile-long Ruth Nixon Trail or saddle up on the 17-mile-long bridle trail. For more great fishing, dip a line into one of the ponds neighboring the lake in Big Hill Wildlife Area. (620) 336-2741

More Eastern Kansas state parks and wildlife refuges:

BIG HILL Catch bass, crappie, and walleye at this trophy fishing lake or camp, hike and horseback ride. (620) 336-2741

CRAWFORD Spectacular scenery, lakefront cabins, archeological sites and even scuba diving highlight experiences at this park. (620) 362-3671

CROSS TIMBERS Visitors come to hike, camp, fish and boat in this naturally diverse 1,075-acre preserve. (620) 637-2213

EISENHOWER Melvern Lake offers anglers excellent fishing from shore or boat. (785) 528-4102

ELK CITY Hike through dense woodlands and past huge limestone formations. (620) 331-6295

HILLSDALE Equestrian-only campgrounds available along with 32 miles of marked trails. (913) 783-4507

KAW RIVER Hardwood forest overlooks the Kaw River at Kansas’ newest state park. (785) 273-6740

PERRY The highly regarded mountain biking trail boasts 22 miles of single track. (785) 246-3449

POMONA Full-service marina caters to  boaters, fishermen, skiers and campers. (785) 828-4933

FLINT HILLS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE/JOHN REDMOND LAKE Birders come to see thousands of waterfowl that rest in this preserve during spring and fall migrations. (620) 392-5553

MARAIS DES CYGNES NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE Diverse natural habitats provide for more than 300 bird species. (913) 352-8956

For park details: Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (620) 672-5911; kdwp.state.ks.us



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