By: Michael Smart, Leska MTB Racing
Have you ever made the drive through Kansas? Or do you have some future road trip plans? Make sure to stop by this trail for a true surprise. Many of us have driven across the country in search of some of the best single track in the United States. Did you know there are 25 miles of beautiful trail riding less than 7 miles off Interstate 70, about an hour west of Salina, KS? There sure is – it’s called Wilson State Park – and it’s worth your detour.
A friend mentioned stopping for some trail riding during my drive through Kansas in May. Finding myself skeptical, I stopped to see what the hype was about and wow was I surprised! Located in central Kansas is Wilson State Park which has camping and cabin accommodation options and includes extensive hiking, boating, swimming, fishing, and trail riding. There truly is something for everyone in the family and it’s a fantastic break while making the drive across the United States. All activities in Wilson State Park are centrally located and make it easy for everyone to enjoy something simultaneously. Whether you’re traveling alone, with friends, or with the family, there is something for everyone.
Within a few minutes of riding the trail system, you see why this place is so special. The International Mountain Bicycle Association (IMBA) approved the trail system with their EPIC designation in 2012. To establish an EPIC designation, the trail must be demanding, mostly single track in a natural setting, denote a true backcountry experience, and at least 20 miles in length. Fun fact – this is the only IMBA EPIC trail in Kansas. Approximately 25 miles of continuous singletrack varying in skill level from beginner to expert. Beginners can feel confident on the 5-mile novice loop while experts can opt to combine several loop options for 4-5 hours of continuous riding.
I could not stop taking pictures during my ride throughout the State Park. Each trail is different from the last and there is always some scenery to keep you impressed. My favorite feature of the trail system was the rolling countryside. Rolling green hills with endless views are quite the treat. Another favorite feature is that you’ll never be far from your vehicle since the trail system loops around the beautiful Kansas countryside, which very reassuring. MTB Project couldn’t have said it any better with, “Although the trail has a wild and remote feel, you’re never far from a bailout back to the trailhead.”
Wilson State Park and the Switchgrass trail network are well worth the trip. I found myself camping for one night and spending an entire day there – realizing there was much more to explore. I enjoy the peaceful drive through Kansas and having this designation available makes the drive that much more exciting. Next time on my way through Kansas, I’ll be stopping for at least two days.