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.


Milford Lake
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Flint Hills region

JUNCTION CITY: Milford State Park Five miles north of Junction City, this park’s centerpiece lake calls itself the “Fishing Capital of Kansas.” In addition to smallmouth bass, the 16,000-acre prairie lake (with 160 miles of shoreline) teems with walleye, largemouth bass, blue catfish and wipers, a hard-fighting white and striped bass hybrid. And you don’t have to be a veteran to have fun reeling them in. Novices and kids have good luck at the frequently stocked Gathering Pond below the dam. The small tranquil pond (no motorized boats allowed) features piers for easy fishing access and even hosts kids’ tournaments. (785) 238-3014

MANHATTAN: Tuttle Creek State Park Boating, swimming and fishing bring visitors to Manhattan’s huge reservoir, the state’s second largest. But they’re not the only story. Marksmen can target-shoot at the Fancy Creek Shooting Range (open the first and third full weekends of every month). Miles of backcountry trails beckon to ATVers and motorcyclists. (In some areas, vehicles must have wheelbases of less than 66 inches.) Horseback, mountain biking and hiking trails weave through the park and along 100 miles of shore. Some 700 campsites and 11 camping cabins attract families.The adjacent 12,000-acre wildlife area harbors deer, quail, turkeys and birds. (785) 539-7941

EL DORADO: El Dorado State Park On summer weekends, there’s a festival atmosphere at El Dorado State Park on the southern edge of the Flint Hills (38 miles northeast of Wichita). Much of the fun centers on four camping areas with multiple campgrounds that have more than 1,000 sites, some along 98 miles of shore. The park also features five small sleeping cabins and five deluxe cabins with kitchens and baths. Plan ahead;  these book quickly. Six trails include the easy-going Shady Creek Nature Trail where fawn often are spotted in spring and more challenging hiking and biking trails, which climb into uplands. The scenic Boulder Bluff Horse Trail follows the shore. (316) 321-7180

More Flint Hills area parks and preserves:

Council Grove Lake This park offers campsites close to Santa Fe Trail historic sites and scenic Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. (620) 767-5195

Fall River State Park Birders come hoping for  sightings of more than 400 species. (620) 637-2213

Marion Reservoir Big water brings boaters and anglers to this lake and four parks with campgrounds on the shore. (620) 382-2101

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve Guided bus tours take visitors to eye-popping views of the world’s largest surviving prairie. (620) 273-8494

Cross timbers Some of the largest white bass in the world live in these waters. (620) 637-2213

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


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