Step Outside - Kansas WELCOME TO STEP OUTSIDE! Find the best outdoor fun near you! en-us 30 http://stepoutside.org/ Step Outside - Kansas 144 144 http://stepoutside.org/ https://cdnstep-americantownscom.netdna-ssl.com/img/stepoutside_logo.gif Sat, 20 Oct 2018 03:37:01 -0500 Best Places to Fish in the Midwest This Fall Walleyes and a variety of salmon are on the autumn menu in the Midwest as anglers have a last chance to fish open water before the winter freeze starts to set in. Fishing for either species can be excellent; how the weather and the water temperatures line up are more critical where salmon are concerned, but the fall run extends well into November.

Walleyes aren’t so picky, and all the traditional waters such as the Mississippi River, Big Saint Germain Lake in Wisconsin, Otter Tail Lake in Minnesota and Great Lakes feeder streams give up tons of  ’eyes in the fall.

One Last Salmon Fling

The big attraction nowadays is king (chinook) salmon that make their fall spawning runs up rivers and creeks. Whether fishing from a small boat or a Great Lakes charter boat, latching on to a 20- or 30-pound king can quickly warm up an otherwise chilly fall day.

Hot Spots To Fish: Michigan’s Grand River, which empties into the eastern side of Michigan, is a prime destination for salmon. Getting Bit Guide Service (616-570-2946, gettingbitguideservice.com) in Grand Rapids is a good starting point. In fact, any port of call along Lake Michigan on either the east or west sides is likely to have plenty of knowledgeable salmon guides or charters. Fishing from jetties or piers – such as the famed McKinley Pier in Milwaukee – is also productive during the fall salmon runs.

In northwestern New York, the Salmon River lives up to its name through mid-October, but the run might linger into November in the Lake Ontario feeder, depending on the weather. Coho and steelheads also are in the mix too.

The Yankee Angler (315-963-2065, yankeeangler.com) in Pulaski, N.Y. keeps tabs on the fishing. In the big waters of Lake Ontario’s southern shore at Rochester, N.Y., give Reel Em In Sportfishing Charters (585-317-5325, reeleminsportfishing.com) a call.

Farther to the northwest, the waters and feeders of Lake Superior near Sault Ste. Marie are teeming with big salmon. One of the benefits here is that you can always slip in to the St. Mary’s River System to get away from those rough autumn nor’ westers. Live To Fish Charters (906-440-7797) can help make it happen.

New York rivers and inshore waters are teeming with big salmon in the fall.

Tackle You’ll Need: Salmon tackle and striped bass tackle (see above) are practically interchangeable. Fish might range from a few pounds to well over 20 pounds, and rods and reels should be in the medium- to-heavy range. A light- to-medium spinning outfit capable of holding a couple of hundred yards of 10- to 14-pound-test monofilament or 30- to 50-pound-test braid should do for most applications, especially when casting lures. Try the Okuma Epixor XT-20 with a matching rod.

Quick Tip: Just to hedge your bets, tie a foot-long section of 2x mono to your streamer hook and add a beadhead Prince nymph or similar pattern to the other end. When salmon are finicky, they might flash at a streamer, but not take it. Sometimes, a smaller mouthful such as a nymph trailer will seal the deal.

 

Best Lures/Bait: For the most part, spawn-run salmon hit spoons, crankbaits or roe bags out of reaction rather than hunger. Shiny lures, such as the Luhr-Jensen Twinky Rig behind a flasher, the Acme Kastmaster Spoon and a variety of soft-plastic swimbaits or hard crankbaits, will elicit strikes. Fly fishermen favor Dahlberg Divers, Wooly Buggers, Hex Nymphs and Glo Bugs.

Walleyes Are Hungry and Willing

In similar fashion to bass, walleyes follow baitfish from the bigger lakes to feeder creeks and rivers with current.

Hot Spots To Fish: The Van Hook Arm of Lake Sakakawea (701-421-0360, vanhookguideservice.com) in North Dakota is a prime walleye destination, as is Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago (920-598-0586, walleyepatrol.com

Tackle You’ll Need: Power fishing it’s not. Though walleyes might fatten up to well over 10 pounds, 2- to 4-pound fish are more the rule. Depending on the average size of the fish, 4- to 10-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon will do.

For spinning enthusiasts, the Quantum Vapor PT with matching rod will work. If you prefer trolling to casting, or bouncing a weight and natural bait on the bottom, try a baitcasting outfit such as a Fenwick/Pflueger Night Hawk or Iron Hawk combo.

Quick tip: Trolling at night with diving jerkbaits, such as the Storm Original ThunderStick or Lucky Craft Pointer 110, is a great way to catch walleyes. Troll in patterns from deep to shallow and back again, as the fish tend to relocate up and down drop-offs and channel runs depending on bait movement.

 

Best Lures/Bait: Leeches, nightcrawlers, minnows and everything from crankbaits to spinners will find favor with hungry fall walleyes. Top picks include: Rapala’s Shad Rap, Berkley’s Flicker Shad, Mepps’ Black Fury, Rapala’s Husky Jerk and Northland Fishing Tackle’s Forage Minnow Jigging Spoon.

]]>
Photograph Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Walleyes weighing more than 10 pounds apiece are routinely caught in the fall, but most fish are "good eating size," averaging about 3 pounds. http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-midwest-this-fall http://stepoutside.org/article/best-places-to-fish-in-the-midwest-this-fall Thu, 11 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0500
8 Best Outdoor Fall Activities in Kansas Kansans love fall. This fact is self-evident from the sheer number of celebrations, apple picking opportunities, and abundant options for outdoor recreation. No matter where you are in the Sunflower State, you’re never far from a fall-themed activity. Whether you prefer to celebrate the season at a block party or during a quiet moon walk, the following activities are simply the best Kansas has to offer this fall. 

Gieringers Orchard in Edgerton, Kansas offers a wide variety of fall-themed activities, including corn maze, kids’ mini maze, and pumpkin picking. The season opens in late September and runs until late October. Make sure to try a pumpkin doughnut and apple cider slushee before you go!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by suzanne (@suburbanspunk) on

Spend the weekend with King Henry VIII while you “pay heed to the exploits of jousting knights on thundering steeds, roam the village shops for unique crafts, delight in entertainment on one of our 25 stages, and feast on delicious food and drinks,” according to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival website. Open every weekend between early September and mid-October, Kansas City offers few better ways to ring in the fall season. 

Prairie Earth Tours offers several different tour options, but the one we recommend most for late in the fall is the Premier Flint Hills Bucket List Adventure. Depending on which package you choose, expect to be treated to sightseeing, campfires, sunset horseback rides, meals, and much more.

Louisburg Cider Mill is known for their hard cider, fruit butter, and lost trail soda. See where the cider gets made before tasting the best cider they have to offer, made from apples grown on site. While the mill is open year-round, the last weekend in September and the first in October is the best time to come. That’s when they host their annual Ciderfest—a celebration all about the season and delicious cider.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Louisburg Cider Mill (@louisburgcidermill) on

Sure, you could go camping in one of Kansas’s excellent forests or parks, but why not experience a truly authentic, uniquely Kansas experience by spending the weekend at the Moore Longhorn Cattle Ranch? A working ranch, they have 300 Texas Longhorn cattle onsite. Moore Ranch encourages visitors to join in on their ranch life, since 1998 they’ve been serving home-cooked family-style meals and an excellent experience. 

While spending a weekend at a cattle ranch isn’t an experience to miss, traditional cabin camping is nothing to scoff at, either. This fall, sign up to stay at the Acorns Resort for all your RV and cabin camping needs. They have tons of different cabin configurations and can sleep from two to 12. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jason Schoonover (@jdschoon) on

The Maple Leaf Festival began in 1958 and has continued to be one of the premier fairs in the state. According to the festival website, founder Dr. Ivan Boyd said that the third weekend in October is the “optimum time to view the changing colors of the Maple Leaves in the area and the perfect time to celebrate the successful harvest,” giving the festival its date. Enjoy over 300 craft exhibits, music, quilt shows, and much more. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Victoria Grace Cantrell (@tori_grace_) on

This local guide is situated near Atlanta, Kansas, and strives to provide an “affordable hunting or fishing adventure in a low-pressure, family-like atmosphere.” If you’re interested in going out on a personal and helpful excursion, the experts at Timber Creek Wildlife Adventures have you covered. Options include hunting for deer, turkey, and native quail, waterfowl, and several fishing opportunities. 

]]>
http://stepoutside.org/article/8-best-outdoor-fall-activities-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/8-best-outdoor-fall-activities-in-kansas Thu, 13 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Camping Done Right: 7 Best Outdoor Stores in Kansas The motto for camping is to always be prepared. Camping and sleeping out in the wilderness allows you to be close to nature and experience the outdoors in a way that no other outdoor activity can. It’s essential that to have a fun and safe experience that you are well stocked with all the necessary camping gear. The following stores are known for carrying the best brands of camping gear and having expert staff who will make sure your upcoming camping trip is well supplied for fun outdoors. 

With over 40 years of excellent service, Sunflower Outdoor and Bike is prepared to outfit you with the very best for your next camping experience. Find all of your favorite trustworthy brands like Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, Osprey, Merrell, Smartwool, and more. 

Cabela’s is one of the best known outdoor stores where you can find everything you could ever need for your outdoor adventure. Their camping section is one of the best around and offers gear from all the major brands. Here you can pick up everything for your upcoming trip including relaxing ENO hammocks, Eureka! tents, and a high-quality Benchmade knife which always comes in handy. 

This is a cool store! #CabelasWichita

A post shared by Terry Tebrugge (@terry67401) on

With 11 different departments to choose from, this outdoor store really has it all. This is the largest locally-owned and operated sports store in Kansas. Find all the camping gear you’ll need from brands like ALPS Mountaineering and Coleman. You’ll also find dehydrators from Open Country for delicious cooking outdoors. 

Einstein’s Outdoor Outfitters has been providing the Topeka area with all of the proper gear for a safe and enjoyable camping experience for over 100 years. That’s right. A century of excellent service. Not only will you find footwear, Coleman camping goods, and other outdoor appliances, but you’ll find the complete selection of military surplus in Topeka. 

This independent specialty outdoor equipment store in Manhattan, Kansas, has been outfitting campers and outdoors people since 1975. Find top-quality packs from Osprey and Deuter, as well as tents, sleeping bags, camp cookware, tools and gadgets, safety gear, gear repair products, and much more! 

Bass Pro Shops is another leader in providing high-quality outdoor equipment including great camping accessories. Stroll through their huge store and you are bound to find some great new gear including Lodge Cast Iron cookware, the super comfortable Big Agnes camping chairs, and a nearly unlimited supply of fishing equipment to add some extra fun to your upcoming camping trip. 

Mickey’s Surplus is an army surplus store that is jam packed with all kinds of outdoor gear and military-grade equipment. Here you can find an enormous selection of camouflage clothing along with standard outdoor clothing brands like Carhartt and Dickies. Military is the main theme but you are sure to find all of your basic camping supplies here as well. 

]]>
http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-7-best-outdoor-stores-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/camping-done-right-7-best-outdoor-stores-in-kansas Wed, 15 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Gorgeous Beach Campsites in Kansas The state of Kansas, set in the very center of the United States, offers some of the best scenic views anywhere. For those of us looking to retreat to nature and uncover some stunning, lakeside views, these stunning waterfront campsites will do just the trick. From sparkling, secluded lakes, to vast state parks, here are five gorgeous beach campsites in Kansas. 

The perfect family-friendly campground, El Dorado makes for an incredible getaway of fishing, boating, and much more. This lakeside park boasts 2,000 acres of park, 4,000 acres of wildlife area, 8,000 acres of water, and 98 miles of shoreline. There are also 18 campgrounds available to stay the night. With hiking trails, biking and horseback riding trails, and plenty of other land and water recreation, it’s safe to say you’ll never have a dull moment at El Dorado State Park.  

Named one of the top beaches in 2012 by USA Today, Lake Scott is a site you must experience. Lake Scott is located in one of the most historic Kansas places—a spot where numerous archeological digs have turned up Native American pueblo artifacts. The lake offers great beach areas for swimming, camping, and boating. 

Locals will tell you Milford Lake near Junction City is located “in the heart of the Flint Hills” and has been called the “fishing capitol of Kansas.” But the 163 miles of shoreline provides plenty of sandy beaches for swimmers, sun tanners, and sand castles builders. Check out their campgrounds featuring RV sites, cabins, and primitive campsites. 

Great swim beaches can be found along the shoreline of Big Hill Lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates the lake and the Mound Valley Swimming Beach is open during May through September for a small fee. There is plenty of opportunity for picnicking, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, fishing, and more. 

Situated near Halstead, Kansas, Spring Lake is dedicated to giving your family the most memorable camping experience. RV, cabin, and tent camping are all available on site. Spring Lake is the centerpiece to a wonderful campground that offers swimming, mini golf, an exercise room, basketball, playgrounds, and even karaoke and bingo!  

]]>
Andrew Lever/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-gorgeous-beach-campsites-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-gorgeous-beach-campsites-in-kansas Tue, 14 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots in Kansas It is time to pack up your backpack, throw it over your shoulder and explore the Kansas outdoor landscapes. As diverse and wonderful as the citizens, backpacking can provide a necessary item to all adventure seekers, stillness, calming and incredible sceneries. It won’t matter where you start you will always find home again in Kansas. 

Cedar Bluff State Park near WaKeeney offers backpackers two unique areas to explore and camp. Backpack along the shorelines of the Cedar Bluff Reservoir and the wide-open spaces of the Bluffton area on the north shore. The second area is the Page Creek south shoreline. This side is not as developed, but offers large shade trees and sandier shorelines with both designated and undesignated primitive campsites. Both areas can provide outdoor adventure and relaxing solitude.

Backpackers will enjoy the hiking trails and camping areas the John Redmond Reservoir offers throughout the year. Located in the Neosho River Valley, the area’s rolling hills offer backpackers acres of wheat, corn, and maize fields. The native tall-grass prairies and rolling hilltops open to seas of waving grasses and bottomlands that are coved by trees. Three recreation areas provide beautiful campsites.  

When life gets too hectic, head to southwest Kansas and backpack the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and the Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands near Elkhart. Birdwatch, fish, find an oasis all your own. After you spend time backpacking the area’s scenic, unspoiled grasslands, camp for the night at one of the 12 primitive campsites. Pitch your tent for a small fee under the park’s tall cottonwood trees and take in the peace and tranquility this park offers. 

Pomona State Park, east of Pomona, welcomes any skill level of backpacker. You are invited to leave the hustling metro plex of Kansas City and travel southeast to this quiet, serene spot and take in the view of the lake, the park, the grassy areas and the abundant trees. Perch yourself along one of the park trails and watch red-bellied woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, and purple finches spend their days. Recreational activities during your stay could include fishing and boating, and enjoying a variety of wildlife. The park is open year-round. 

Bring your camera, your binoculars, and set your backpack down and relax at Kaw River State Park near Topeka. Wooded trails follow alongside the Kaw River and provide incredible viewing of wildlife and even seasonal eagle viewing. Relax and enjoy the beauty this park has to offer as you backpack the river and the remote areas of the park, which are full of stunning natural wonders. 

]]>
http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-backpack-camping-spots-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-backpack-camping-spots-in-kansas Tue, 14 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome Campgrounds for Families in Kansas Pack up the family and get ready for a camping adventure. In Kansas, you’ll find a plethora of family-oriented campgrounds just waiting to be explored by your little ones! From lake-side campsites to beautiful parks, you’ll find something for the whole family to enjoy at these great family-friendly campgrounds in Kansas. 

Council Grove Lake Campground near the city of Council Grove is a great campsite destination for the entire family. Being situated by the beautiful Council Grove Lake makes this campsite a nice place to spend a hot summer day. Enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, and water sports at Council Grove.

A post shared by Pierson McAtee (@pjmac23) on

The Kanopolis State Park is located on the Prairie Trail Scenic Byway and is Kansas’ first state park. Kanopolis is a great state park to pitch a tent, and spend hours with your family exploring the rich history and scenic trails. Over 30 miles of trails can be utilized by hikers, mountain bikers, and even horseback riders.

Enjoy summer camping with the family at Lake Scott State Park near Scott City. This park was named by National Geographic as one of the country's 50 must-see state parks. While here, explore water sports, fishing, hiking, and sightseeing. The park is also ideal for wildlife observation, where you can see native creatures in their natural habitats. The kids will surely have a blast.

Majestic..

A post shared by Jayson Lambert (@jayson19jl) on

The Clinton State Park is four miles west of Lawrence and provides the perfect spot to camp out with your family and unplug. Water sports, hiking, biking, disc golf, nature trails, archery ranges, sand volleyball, a swim beach, fishing ponds, and playgrounds are all featured at Clinton. Pitch your tent and spend the summer outdoors! 

Travel east of El Dorado and you will find El Dorado State Park. Known as one of the top state parks in America because of its accessibility to fishing, boating and family fun. After you pitch the family tent and prepare your campsite, you have over 4,000 acres to explore. Plus, take the family hiking, biking, horseback riding or swimming.

]]>
iko/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-campgrounds-for-families-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-campgrounds-for-families-in-kansas Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Awesome RV Campsites in Kansas In Kansas, you can find an excellent RV park to stop, stay, and enjoy time away with your family. RV parks are the perfect middle ground camping experience—with all the amenities you’ll need to stay cozy and all the immersion in nature to feel removed from your everyday bustling life. Here are five awesome RV parks in the state. 

The Flagstop Resort & RV Park in Milford offers RV campers a private, gated place to park for the night or an extended stay. Enjoy the sandy beaches of Milford Lake, stock up on supplies at the on-site convenience store or grab a bite at the seasonal restaurant. The grounds also feature a boat ramp, shower house, and indoor/outdoor event sites. 

Located one mile north of Hugoton, the Eagle RV Park is newly established and offers updated RV amenities. At the park, you’ll find a laundry room, showers, vending machines, and more, as well as a pool table, dart board, games, and horseshoe pits. The city of Hugoton offers loads of entertainment possibilities, too. 

Forbes Landing RV Park in Topeka is a great place to park and enjoy Topeka. This park is located close to entertainment spots, restaurants, shopping, and close to the Heartland Park Racetrack. On-site amenities include clean bathrooms, dump stations, Wi-Fi, kitchen facilities, and more. 

The Whistle Stop RV And Antiques in Colby is an easy off and easy on stop when crossing the plains of Kansas. The park is located adjacent to the Prairie Museum of Art and History—presenting a fascinating agricultural history of northwest Kansas. Within walking distance is the Aquatic Park which is perfect for a day of fun with the kids. 

You just can’t beat a KOA. Featuring a fishing pond, horseshoes, pedal karts, paddle boats, a playground, volleyball, and more, the whole family will be thoroughly entertained at Salina KOA. Not to mention the yummy food right on the grounds, including Hunt Brothers Pizza and an ice cream social! 

Day 3: setting up is getting quicker and now for dinner in town

A post shared by Taylor Dannielle Hayman (@tailzy_poo21122) on

]]>
welcomia /Shutterstock.comΒ  http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-rv-campsites-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-awesome-rv-campsites-in-kansas Mon, 13 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Energizing Hikes in Kansas Take some time away from your busy life to decompress among nature. Trekking your way through Kansas’ many delightfully picturesque hiking trails is a great way to soak in the beauty of nature while getting a workout. These energizing hikes in Kansas offer a bit more of a heart-pumping experience than your leisurely stroll. 

This nature preserve in Kansas looks like a dream, maybe even the classic verdant computer background that Windows is known by. It is a sight to be seen. Over 40 miles of a luscious sea of grassy hills, wild bison roaming, over 500 species of plants are all yours to explore in this land preserve right in the Kansas Flint Hills. What makes this preserve special is the wildlife that it is rich in. See this rustic terrain in this pocket of the Tallgrass Prairie and your thirst for exploration will be quenched.

Over 15 miles of these occasionally challenging blue-blazed trails will have you feeling connected at the hip with nature. The varied terrain offers an immense number of scenic features, such as panoramic views, narrow canyons, rock overhangs, beautiful foliage in the fall, lush greenery, and much more. Feel a rush of adrenaline as you trek through these canyons and over the hilly, rocky land.

The Chautauqua Hills hike travels through centuries-old oak trees and boasts some of the most scenic views in Cross Timbers State Park. The hills are covered in black jack oaks, scrub oaks, as well as other hardwood species. Cross Timbers is characterized by its grasslands and beautiful deciduous trees. The 11-mile Chautauqua Hills hike is challenging because of its length, and is open year-round.

Chaplin Nature Center is for those who want to get a taste of everything Kansas wildlife has to offer. Over 230 species of bird can be seen here, as well bobcats, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and for reptile lovers, you might catch a glimpse of some snakes. Not only is the ecosystem thriving, but so are the wetlands and forest. There isn’t a dull area here, that is for sure. Walk this roughly five-mile trail along the Arkansas River and experience the vivid wildlife right in Arkansas City.  

This immersive and historic nature trail is one of the more invigorating hiking experiences you’ll have in Kansas. This first loop of the nature trail spans 2.6 miles. The Konza Prairie Biological Station covers 8,600 acres with native tallgrass. Along the way, you’ll observe fields that featured a working cattle ranch in 1977, excellent spots to see beautiful wildflowers, and if you’re really lucky, you might get to see a wonderful bison herd. 

]]>
http://stepoutside.org/article/5-energizing-hikes-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-energizing-hikes-in-kansas Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
Start Your Trek: 8 Best Hiking Retailers in Kansas One of the most peaceful and relaxing ways to appreciate nature is by going on a hike through spaces teeming with wildlife and fresh air. Nothing relieves the stress better than disconnecting from the daily grind and heading out into nature. But in order to get the most out of your hiking experiences, you always want to make sure you carry the right gear and are well equipped for different types of terrain and obstacles. The following hiking retailers are the best for providing essential gear and expertise that will help guide you to having a perfect hiking adventure! 

Sitzmark Sports is a family-owned outdoor sports shop that has some great deals on outerwear and equipment. Their expert staff has a ton of experience using all types of gear so they will be able to help you with high-quality recommendations on equipment for your upcoming hiking trips. 

This renowned sporting goods store is one of the largest in the state that sells almost everything you could ever need outdoors. Their huge store has an indoor Ferris wheel and a selection of outdoor hiking gear that is unmatched. With hundreds of options for outdoor clothing and boots, you will find exactly what you need to take on your next adventure. 

This is a paradise for hikers, bikers, campers, and other wilderness explorers. Find water bottles, backpacks, and more, from top brands like Sea to Summit, Patagonia, and Eagle Creek

Worth the drive.

A post shared by Cassidy Cheray (@hooraycheray) on

Eddie Bauer is one of the best known names when you think about going on outdoor adventures. Their store is packed with high-quality outerwear, boots, and even casual clothing. Their excellent staff has a ton of knowledge on their different types of gear and what will be optimal for all types of weather and terrain conditions. 

If you are looking for super tough and durable gear than nothing beats the military quality equipment that you can find at Mickey’s Surplus. Their army surplus store is full of outdoor specialty gear and military-grade equipment. Their store carries many top brands and tons of camouflage patterned gear that will last through even the toughest outdoor hikes. 

Bass Pro Shops is one of the most well-known names in outdoor equipment. Their incredible outdoor supply store is bursting full of great deals on hiking gear. The boot selection here is top-notch and you are sure to find all of the outdoor clothing and accessories you could ever need.

If you are looking for a fun shopping experience, then you have to check out Cabela’s, which has locations in Kansas City and Wichita. Their store is enormous and full of outdoor gear and wildlife on display. Boasting one of the biggest selections of outerwear and gear, this place has everything you could ever need for hiking and probably some things you didn’t even know existed. Make sure you plan a few hours to wander their huge store, pick up gear from your favorite brands, and check out the amazing wildlife exhibits as well. 

Nothing compares to the down-home feel and selection at Sunflower Outdoor and Bike. This Lawrence shop features all the greatest brands like the North Face, Smartwool, Osprey, Marmot, MSR, and much more. 

]]>
http://stepoutside.org/article/start-your-trek-8-best-hiking-retailers-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/start-your-trek-8-best-hiking-retailers-in-kansas Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
7 Best Birdwatching Hikes in Kansas Kansas’ landscape of wide-open plains and untouched prairies makes for an impeccable birdwatching destination. Whether you’re searching for an elegant heron or sprightly goldfinch, these birdwatching hikes will provide a blissful retreat into nature. Here are our favorites. 

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area is a 41,000-acre lowland that is home to hundreds of Kansas’ bird species. It’s estimated that over 45 percent of North America’s shorebird population stops in the basin during their migration north in the spring. It’s primarily a wetland habitat and offers endless birdwatching for the more than 60,000 people who visit annually. 

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge is constantly rated as one of the top birdwatching destinations in the United States. Over 344 species have been recorded in this massive wetland and being in the middle of the country, it offers birdwatchers a mix of western and eastern species. Hike along one of the many mudflats or shorelines and you are sure to see tons of long-legged waders like herons and cranes. 

The Jamestown Wildlife Area offers over 3,000 acres of beautiful wetlands and uplands full of a variety of bird species. A popular area to visit is the Jamestown Lake where you can go on a quick hike. The area offers excellent wildlife viewing and photographing opportunities. Be on the lookout for a variety of waterfowl and other migrating shorebirds! 

The George Stumps Nature Trail is a great place to bring friends or family for a leisurely stroll through southeastern side of the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area. The paved trail is located at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, next to the center, and offers over a half mile hike through Kansas wildlife such as woodrats, deer, and many species of birds. 

The Emporia Cottonwood River Trail a great natural trail that runs along the Cottonwood River and offers a secluded area great for birdwatching. The trail is just under a mile long and easily hiked or can also be accessed by bike. You can access the trail from Peter Pan Park and quickly spend a few hours there observing beautiful Kansas bird species. 

A post shared by Ciara Davis (@curlie_top) on

The Ernie Miller Nature Center was the first nature center in Kansas and has a great hiking trail called the Ernie Miller Bittersweet Trail that is home to varying species of birds including chickadees and goldfinch. The 116-acre nature preserve also has an education center with exhibits and programs for the whole family to enjoy. 

The George Latham Trail can be found along the western side of Clinton Lake and is a 4.5-mile trail open solely for hikers. The trail offers a mix of wooded areas and open grasslands that are filled with hundreds of species of native Kansas birds. Trailheads are found along the northwest corner and southeast corner of the parking area. 

]]>
http://stepoutside.org/article/7-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/7-best-birdwatching-hikes-in-kansas Thu, 09 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Great Hiking Trails in Kansas Pack up the family and get ready to immerse yourself in the natural magnificence of Kansas. With a tremendous amount of hiking trails waiting to be trekked, you’ll find a route that caters to Mom, Dad, and the little ones, too. Get on your way at these five excellent hiking trails in Kansas. 

Take the family to experience the beautiful hiking trails around Clinton Lake in Lawrence. Depending on the hikers in your family, these trails will allow you to choose the best path for your skill level. Your options are endless as you set out to explore the lake, forests, and hills of this enchanting area. Wildlife is abundant and the views are spectacular. Stop by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Visitors Center for maps and instructions and follow the trail heads. Enjoy walking and hiking with the family.

are you surprised ?

A post shared by ireland ziegler (@umwellhey) on

The Agave Ridge Trail near Ellis will wind your family through a one-mile paved trail and also offers a four-mile primitive trail. Both deliver beautiful scenic vistas of Western Kansas prairie grasses, opportunities to view wildlife, the abundant Great Plains Yucca plants, and the half-mile cedar lined bluffs from which the trails are named after. The trail head is found in the Page Creek Area in Cedar Bluff State Park and interpretative signs keep you on the trails. Have fun and enjoy the scenery!

Located northwest of Topeka in the iconic Flint Hills, the Oregon Trail Nature Park provides three short loop hiking trails for the entire family. The trails are along the north edge of the Kaw River Valley and it’s the same route immigrants crossed over 100 years ago. The Sea of Grass trail takes you up to the top of the ridge and gives 360-degree views. Wildlife and wild flowers are abundant and don’t miss the old silo murals. Restrooms, picnic tables, shelters and water are onsite for convenience. Learn some history and take in the fascinating ecosystems.

One of five hiking areas at Cross Timbers State Park near Toronto, the Ancient Trees Trail is a family favorite one-mile hike. Walk along the scenic valley of the Verdigris River through 400-year-old oak trees and cross through parts of the Chautauqua Hills. This trail is rich in history with diverse habitat, prairie clearings, and translucent streams. Interpretive signage leads the way, and day or night camping is permitted. A great place to spend time in a truly “ancient” forest.

Load up the family and hike the Alcove Springs Loop Trail near Blue Rapids. Explore the trails scenic, history-filled surroundings, and look for actual carvings of pioneers who etched their names into nearby rocks and trees. Stay on the path until you find the waterfall and enjoy the quiet picturesque scenery (and the occasional wildlife sightings!) This is an awesome trail to hike and explore.

A post shared by Barton Brown (@bbronwa) on

]]>
IrinaK/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-hiking-trails-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-hiking-trails-in-kansas Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Kansas Whether you’re looking for a short hike or a challenging trek, Kansas abounds with scenic byways and breathtaking vistas. The most experienced and novice hikers will both find something to fall in love with in the Sunflower State. Here are five stunning scenic hikes in Kansas. 

The Big Creek Nature Trail in Hays offers an easy to moderate hiking trail that winds along a stream, and a timbered tree-lined path. The trail is situated in Frontier Park, is about 1.5 miles in length, and affords some of the most beautiful views in Kansas. 

The Elk River Hiking Trail near Independence follows the Elk River for 15 miles. The hiking trail offers panoramic outlooks from limestone cliffs and trails across several small streams as well as gullies through narrow canyons. 

Black Hawk Trail is situated on the north shore of Pomona Lake in 110 Mile Park. Several trailheads mark the trail’s 21-plus miles. Black Hawk was originally a horse trail and has now become a popular scenic hiking trail.

The Flint Hills Nature Trail stretches 117 miles from Osawatomie to Herington. The trail crosses the tall grass prairie, historic sites, offering incredible views of farmland and woodlands. 

Experience immaculate sandstone rock formations and cascading waterfalls as you hike the Hemlock Cliffs area. A one-mile jaunt leads hikers down into the canyon and, according to the website, “under a lush canopy of large trees, through rock shelters, and past high seasonal waterfalls.” You simply can’t beat that.  

]]>
KSwinicki/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-scenic-hikes-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-beautiful-scenic-hikes-in-kansas Wed, 08 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Exhilarating Jet Skiing Spots in Kansas It’s time to hit the waters for a day of adrenaline-charged excitement. From the wide bodies of water to the narrow fingers of the lake, jet skiers can explore and enjoy the summer racing across the lakes or searching out a perfect fishing spot in Kansas. Here are five exhilarating jet skiing spots in Kansas. 

Bring your own jet ski or rent one at Hillsdale Lake, one of the most thrilling spots for watersport fun. This lake has over 4,500 acres of lake to power up and enjoy the water. Keep an eye out for the nearby wildlife! 

Wilson Lake, north of the city of Wilson, is known to be the clearest lake in Kansas. The long wide body of this lake offers excellent jet skiing or other watercraft sports, for all levels of experience.  

El Dorado Lake offers jet skiers over 8,000 acres of water. Parts of the lake are large enough to accommodate many types of watercraft and other parts are narrower and provide calmer waters.

Lake Perry near Topeka is an 11,000-acre lake which offers plenty of open water and inlets to give jet skiers the ideal space. This large lake has plenty of room for all sizes of watercrafts.

Waconda Lake near Cawker City is known for its “picturesque” setting. Smooth waters provide jet skiers an excellent space to fly across the surface, and there are still plenty of other areas of the lake to hit some waves. 

]]>
Anne Kitzman /Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-exhilarating-jet-skiing-spots-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-exhilarating-jet-skiing-spots-in-kansas Tue, 07 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Great Paddleboarding Spots in Kansas There are some truly unique spots across Kansas to enjoy flatwater, stand-up paddleboarding. Whether you’re simply looking for a therapeutic paddle, an invigorating core workout, or maybe a little paddleboard yoga, there’s something in Kansas for you. Check out these five great spots for stand-up paddleboarding in the state.  

Stand-up paddleboarders will enjoy the calm waters of Santa Fe Lake’s south shore. The easy waters are an excellent place for beginners to find their footing, but also a beautiful spot for the advanced paddlers to enjoy. Flatwater Fitness and Fun will provide you with rentals, lessons, and tours. Paddleboard rentals for a full day run at $75. You can participate in a PaddleFit Basic course, a PaddleFit SUP Fitness course, and several other one-hour classes for just $25 each. 

Neature 🌞

A post shared by jaden peckham (@jadenpeckham) on

Clinton State Park offers stand-up paddleboarders excellent flat-water spots on Clinton Lake near Lawrence. The clear waters, scenic views, and modern amenities make this a nice place to spend the day.

If you’re a novice paddler, this is the option for you. The Kansas River is wonderfully scenic, affording immaculate views of the natural landscape surrounding the water trail. Kayaking, fishing, and canoeing are popular in the area, but the 173-mile Kansas River also makes for an excellent paddleboarding spot. 

Somewhere east of Tecumseh... who knows. But that sky! #SUP #kansasriver #sunfloweroutdoorandbike

A post shared by Jason Woolery (@luckybearface) on

At the 1,600-acre Shawnee Mission Park, paddlers will find a beautiful, shimmering 120-acre lake to explore. The lake is available to boaters, fishers, sail boarders, and more. Johnson County residents can rent paddleboards for $9 per half hour, and non-residents can rent for $10 per half hour. 

ain't no time like lake time #darty

A post shared by kate kutey (@katekutey) on

One of the largest parks in the Wichita park system, O.J. Watson Park offers a beautiful 40-acre lake for fishing and paddling. You can rent paddleboards and take SUP yoga classes with SUPWichita right nearby. Rates are $10 per half hour or $15 per hour. SUP yoga classes are just $20 for one hour. Be sure to keep up with their website and Facebook to find out about upcoming paddle trips and yoga classes! 

Why not do a little splashing #wichitapaddleboarding #standuppaddle

A post shared by @SUPWichita (@supwichita) on

]]>
urban/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-paddleboarding-spots-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-great-paddleboarding-spots-in-kansas Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500
5 Excellent Places for Beginners to Kayak in Kansas If you’re looking for a paddle sport adventure, consider taking up kayaking to explore the lakes and rivers of Kansas. With the presence of a guide or knowledge of a safety course, you’ll feel ready to go in no time. It doesn’t matter if you have minimal to no experience, these great spots will give you the perfect balance of guidance and challenge to set you on your way. 

The Kansas River stretches 173 miles from north central Kansas to the Missouri River, and is an ideal spot for novice boaters. The Kansas River provides a scenic route for first timers to easily tackle, and more experienced kayakers to enjoy as well. There are many stops along the way, but be sure to take your map!

results are in: blondes do have more fun

A post shared by Addy Pruett (@addylannne) on

Experience the peaceful calm waters of Pillsbury Crossing on your next kayak outing near Manhattan. Follow the stream through the wildlife area and enjoy the terrain, bird watching and places where a variety of bass fish are spotted.

Little waterfall at at Pillsbury Crossing! #Kansas #pillsburycrossing

A post shared by April (@april_gloria) on

The Kaw River is available for kayakers to follow downstream to remote water trail areas of the park, where stunning views and wildlife are common. Kayakers should always know the river conditions and the river’s skill levels before entering the water.

Kayakers at Tuttle Creek State Park near Rocky Ford can access the Kansas River at three entry ports. However, the River Pond area is perfect for beginning kayakers to enjoy the water and practice maneuvering. Kayak rentals are available at this lake.

Kayaking slowly down the Arkansas River through parts of Wichita is awesome. The trip can take 2-3 hours as you navigate your kayak through the wide, calm waters. Be sure to contact the Arkansas River Coalitions for floating information. Sometimes the Coalition will provide the kayaks and life jackets to paddlers. 

]]>
Vitalii Nesterchuk/Shutterstock.com http://stepoutside.org/article/5-excellent-places-for-beginners-to-kayak-in-kansas http://stepoutside.org/article/5-excellent-places-for-beginners-to-kayak-in-kansas Fri, 03 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0500