Wilson Lake, Kansas - Nothing like you imagine!

Jan 24, 2006
Groom Lake
Okay, I gotta start this off by saying until last weekend there's no way I would have believed any place in Kansas, especially way out in central Kansas, would provide singeltrack of this caliber. And I think that will probably be what you hear said more often about this trail than any other comment. You just can't believe you're in BFK when you're on this trail!

Located about 5 minutes north of I-70 at the Wilson Lake exit (exit #206), this place will probably leave quite an impression on you. I was super skeptical about leaving all my gorgeous singletrack in Kansas City and hauling nearly 4 hours out to this place but I have to admit, it was very much worth the drive. I'd suggest doing it as an overnight road trip so you can double your saddle time.

Upon entering the park, take a left at this sign and you will easily find the well marked trail head....right across from the free showers:

Here's the trail head, from here take a left and just keep riding. The trail system is well marked so you don't have much to worry about as far as getting lost.

This trail really does give you a lot to be happy about. It's very flowy, has some really techy sections and for an XC trail it is oh-my-God-fast in places! It just oozes with flow and fluidity...

Did I mention that there's plenty of the techy stuff to entertain you?

But one of Wilson Lake's stand-out traits is the scenery. You're in the middle of Kansas and you're seeing stuff like this:

What's even more peculiar is that when I stopped along one of these inlets to take a break and enjoy the view, I kept hearing this kissing/smooching noise. When I looked into the crystal-clear water I was surprised to see hundreds of thigh-sized carp just chilling out in the water, feeding on floating things (whatever it is they eat) on the surface and making this smooching sound.

One word of warning about Wilson Lake: you are exposed to the elements on this trail. There isn't a single square foot of shade to be found unless it's under a rock. So ride smart and pack smarter. Bring more fluid that you think you'll need and consider sunblock you're best riding friend in the summer. It's also windy here. The mornings and evenings are more calm, but once the sun gets up this place can hit you with a steady 40mph wind on an average day. I would also bet that winter riding here can be equally challenging to keep a comfy body temperature.

Some travel tips:
I stayed a couple days at nearby Russell, Kansas in a generic chain-motel but I wish I had known about the newly restored Midland Railroad Hotel in Wilson. It's just 10 minutes south of the trailhead and is an old railroad station, fully restored with Wi-Fi and modern amenities. Also in Wilson, within a block of the Midland Railroad Hotel, is a grocery store, a liquor store and a diner.

Another option is to stay in one of the cabins on the lake. That's what I'll be doing next time I'm out for sure. The cabins looked very nice, had A/C, cooking grills and would be perfect for a bro-cation or even a little get-away with the girl/man in your life.

Local bike shop info:
Golden Belt Bicycle Co. is about 45 minutes away in Great Bend, KS (1111 Main Street, Great Bend, KS 67530-4431 (620) 793-7060).

I took a little photo-hike to get you guys some pics of this place but I obviously wasn't able to cover the entire 20+ miles of trail so I missed out on photographing a lot of the really cool rock formations on the south side.

I really can't say enough good things about this place. If you're on your way past Wilson Lake you really need to put this trail on your riding agenda. Entry to the park is less than $5 and they have free showers within feet of where you park at the trailhead....what more could you ask for?! Give this place a shot, you won't be disappointed.

To see the full slideshow of the pics I took, click here:
http://s271.photobucket.com/albums/jj130/AdrenalineImages/Wilson Lake Kansas Spring 2011/?albumview=slideshow


Jun 13, 2008
A tick north of Seattle
DUDE!! I lived in Salina for 5 years and I never saw anything like this!! Of course, that was about a million years ago (11 years in PNW years :( ) When I lived out there, I was strictly a bike commuter, but now I have 11 (million) years of off-road bike lust/experience behind me and that looks like a good time! If I ever get my ass back there (I'm long over due for a visit), I'll have bring my bike and check it out. :weee: