From the gate shack and the road around Longview Park at Perry Lake, one cannot see seven new hikers' campsites or the path to them.
And that's just how Richard Douthit wants it.
"What we're trying to do is make this accessible to the hikers, but not the campers," said Douthit, coordinator at Perry Lake for the Kansas Trails Council, a non-profit organization that helped build and has helped maintain the Perry Lake hiking trail, a 30-mile loop that lies along Longview Park.
The KTC also has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to plan and design the hikers' campsites and an access trail that links them with the Perry Lake trail. Blue plastic flags on trees mark the access trail that Douthit and his wife, Kitty, designed, but Douthit said he hopes the trail will be cleared and the trees along it marked with thick white paint blazes by next month.
A SIGN ALONG the Perry Lake trail will point out to hikers the access trail to the new campsites.
Each campsite has a picnic table and a rock fire ring and is positioned several feet away from the next site to ensure privacy. Brush and trees have been cleared away to provide space for erecting tents, but foliage still provides shade and protects the area from the view of travelers on the road and vice versa.
"Because you come out here to get away from traffic, hassles, people," Douthit said.
From May to September, when the park is open, hikers will be charged $8 a night to use the campsites, which are near restrooms and showers. The campsites will remain open and will be free when the park is closed, but the water will be turned off. Dennis Archer, park manager for the Corps of Engineers, said if the campsites are well used, the Corps may install three or four parking spaces outside the park but near the campsites so people can park near them when the park is closed.
ARCHER SAID one campsite was used during Labor Day weekend, but he expects the campsites to be used more as the weather turns cooler and leaves begin to turn colors.
People who like to drive, park and camp should not be dismayed that the new campsites are for hikers only. The Corps also created four primitive camping areas last summer to serve these folks. The areas are a short walk along a mowed path from the road at Longview Park. Each primitive campsite has a picnic table and is secluded by woods.
Two summers ago, the Corps changed a primitive campsite at Longview into a modern campsite, complete with electrical hookups, gravel and parking spaces, because that's what the Corp felt people wanted, Archer said. That change left no place for primitive camping that was close to the Perry Lake trail, and that's when the KTC began working with the Corps to build the hikers' campsites.
"People have to get familiar with Longview Park again," Archer said.
Douthit said he is excited that the Corps has been willing to work with the KTC.
"What the Corps is really doing," he said, "is getting serious about the recreation business."