Fall is a great time to explore Kanopolis State Park

Brandon Case
Pratt Tribune
Unique rock formations scattered amid rolling hills and interesting terrain make Kanapolis State Park a great destination for a fall exploration trip.

Perhaps there’s no better time to explore Kanopolis State Park than in the fall, especially on a warm, sunny day, midweek. Depending upon what part of the park you visit on such a day, you may very well have a lot of space to yourself.

Kanopolis opened as the first Kansas state park in 1959. Since then, the park has seen numerous developments and today features over 28 miles of trails for hiking enthusiasts.

Most of the trails are multi-use and open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.

Depending upon the route you take, be prepared for water crossings. A good walking stick and a willingness to go barefoot across the wider crossings will be helpful in keeping your footwear and socks dry, although most crossings can easily be navigated by stepping on fallen timber or rocks (or by using an existing beaver dam).

Trail surfaces range from sandy to firm with mowed grasses and occasional rock surfaces to walk across. While trails wind through occasional pockets of trees and tall growth of flora and fauna, most of the trail network is open, with unobstructed views of the landscape (and lake in one section). The trails are very well-maintained and marked with color-coded stakes and ribbons, making it easy to find your way using a map you can pick up at the kiosk outside the park office.

One relatively undemanding trail is the ½ mile, accessible nature trail that circles the Kids Fishing Pond. Just west of the park office, you will find a short road leading to the parking lot and this trailhead.

In a time of COVID, the modus operandi has changed here and at other state parks. The park office isn’t always open to visitors. So if you have specific questions for the staff, you may want to call ahead of time. That number is 785-546-2565. Also, like other state parks, full and part-time staffing is limited and often staff may be working on various projects within the park. In any case, the schedule of office closure times and dates is conveniently posted on the park office door.

Of course, don’t forget to pay your daily vehicle permit fee or else have your Parks Passport affixed to the front windshield of your car. These funds keep the parks running so they can be enjoyed by all Kansans.

Kanopolis State Park is a gem and an excellent place to spend a fall day. While hiking across the park’s rolling terrain, it’s easy to be lulled into a peaceful state of mind as you listen to the symphony of native grasses, crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas, with the occasional fanfare of a covey of quails as well.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to make a trip there soon, before winter sets in.