Some state parks to conduct celebrations

PRATT -- "Take the Path to a Healthier You" is the theme for 2005 National Trails Day, organized by the American Hiking Society, on June 4. The 13th annual National Trails Day is expected to inspire nearly one million people to get outside and enjoy America's public trails. In Kansas, several state parks are having special events on that day. This year the Kansas State Parks are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the state park system, with the first state park at Kanopolis.

Cross Timbers State Park, 12 miles west of Yates Center in Woodson County, is hosting a National Trails Day event on June 4 at the Toronto Point Area. Starting at 9:30 a.m., there will be various trail-related events, including a service project on the Chautauqua Hills Trail to complete backcountry campsites, an organized hike on the Ancient Oaks Interpretive Trail, and an evening "Owl Prowl/Night Sensory" hike. June 4 is free entrance day at Cross Timbers as well, making it an ideal opportunity to get outside, get some exercise, and see what the park has to offer.

Crawford State Park, 9 miles north of Girard in Crawford County, is having free entrance days on June 4-5 and is hosting a special Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) recognition day on the June 4. The recently completed handicap-accessible interpretive trail dedicated to the CCC will be open. A CCC alumni reunion and tour of the park is scheduled for 10 a.m. At 2 p.m., a monument to the CCC will be dedicated. The park is situated on the 150-acre Crawford Lake, which was built by the CCC in the 1930s. There are four trails in the park, including the CCC trail, which, along with the Deer Run and Spider Leg Bridge Tails, are open to hiking only. A fourth trail in the park is open to hiking and biking. June 4-5 are also free entrance days at Crawford.

Scott State Park, located in Scott County in western Kansas, is also having free entrance days on June 4-5. The park is a startling oasis of natural springs, deep wooded canyons, and craggy bluffs situated on a 100-acre lake. Two trails in the park, the Big Spring Nature Trail, and the Lake Scott Bridle Trail, give hikers, bikers, and equestrians the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery.

Throughout the state, more than 300 miles of scenic hiking, biking, and equestrian trails may be found within state parks maintained by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP), often with the help of volunteer groups. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, 145 million Americans, or two-thirds of the population, participate in outdoor recreational sports, including hiking, backpacking, and biking.

To find out more about all 23 of the Kansas State Parks and the Prairie Spirit Rail Trail, including special events and trail and camping information, visit the KDWP website . For more information about National Trails Day 2005, visit .