Riding and hiking the trails at Kanopolis State Park

Doje Kosek did a two hour trail ride to reach Red Rock Canyon, one of her favorite places near Kanopolis Reservoir. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Doje Kosek did a two hour trail ride to reach Red Rock Canyon, one of her favorite places near Kanopolis Reservoir. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

It is the land once roamed by Carson, Cody, Custer and the Cheyenne.

It is a place where a famed frontier fort once stood past the edges of civilization and where native people battled hard to protect their way of life.

Kirk, below is this week's e-letter. Sorry, for some reason my computer won't accept my password to get into the system. I think I already have a storyfolder, with recipe attached. If not, just run this if you can. I'm at Kanopolis again today, and will be in for a long day on Friday. Solid cell service on the lake if you need me. Riding the trails in around Kanopolis State Park can include several well-marked water crossings, like this one being forded by Paula Avery, left, Ashley and Lacey Bowles. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE


Riding the trails in around Kanopolis State Park can include several well-marked water crossings, like this one being forded by Paula Avery, left, Ashley and Lacey Bowles. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

It’s a landscape of caves, clear streams, jagged bluffs and vertical cliffs, sparse cactus and lush ferns, all ¬†once bisected by herds of Texas longhorns headed to Kansas railroads.

And it’s only about 90 miles north of Wichita, and belongs to the public.

Pioneers say Oven Cave got its name because Native Americans used it as a place to smoke bison meet. It's now a popular hiking destination at Kanopolis State Park. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Pioneers say Oven Cave got its name because Native Americans used it as a place to smoke bison meet. It’s now a popular hiking destination at Kanopolis State Park. PHOTO BY MICHAEL PEARCE

Kanopolis State Parks is a vast place with nearly 30 miles of trails for horseback riders, hikers and mountain bikers who could get a Rocky Mountain-class workout.

Amid the trails is a very family-friendly trek less than two-miles round-trip, where young and old can scramble up and over and around a rocky trail used for centuries, and see visible signs of where buffalo once wore an obvious trail through solid rock through the millenniums.

Nearby you can sit in a cave, as ancient people once did, and see where they once drove buffalo over a nearby cliff to feed their people.

It’s a place where the earliest pioneers scratched names, dates and sometimes messages more than 150 years ago into vertical rock. Though now mostly covered by more recent scratchings, in some places the soft sandstone may still bear signs of markings left before the first European-Americans came through the land.

It’s the only place within a Kansas state park where trail rides can be purchased and enjoyed across that western landscape. For those with their own horses, there is the first state park campground designed to be very equestrian friendly. There are also about 200 primitive campsites and more than 125 with utilities for those who like living life easier.

A row of cabins overlook a lake with some of the best fishing in Kansas.

Check Sunday’s Wichita Eagle and/or kansas.com for more details on Kanopolis State Park.