Spanning eight miles up the Wakarusa Valley, and covering over 7,000 acres of surface area, Clinton Lake boasts some of the best fishing in the area. An incredible number of wildlife, and things to do, can be found in and around the lake.
Not one, but four parks surround Clinton Lake. They are all owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who leases Clinton State Park to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
The short list of things to do at the parks includes swimming, boating, camping, hunting and fishing, not to mention trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. You can rent the jet ski to cruise on the lake, and the pavilion to picnic with friends and family after.
Clinton State Park
The grandaddy of them all, the centerpiece of the lot, is Clinton State Park. Primarily a fishing and boating destination, the park boasts 16 ramps to get your boat into the water. The full service marina has eight different docks, and a floating restaurant when the day is done.
Don't have a boat of your own? The Marina rents several different classes of watercraft. Canoes, kayaks, fishing boats, ski boats (and a pair of skis), "party barge pontoons" and even jet skis are all available.
A refundable deposit is required, and rates are either by the hour or by the day. Call (785) 749-3222 for more information and to make reservations.
In addition to all the watersports, the park offers six picnic shelter areas, a three-mile cross county ski trail, four playgrounds, a sand volleyball area and an archery range.
The North Shore hiking trail extends to over 25 miles' worth of hiking and mountain biking from the the park's overlook and along the lake to the public boat ramp just west of the state park. Area designated for hunting also extends past and around the state park's boundaries.
For an extended stay, choose from over 400 camping sites (over 200 with electricity and water. Even if you have no gear whatsoever, the park offers a "rent-a-camp" program that provides a tent, stove and lantern for $15 a night.
Other fees are modest at $5 per vehicle per day, and discounts are available. Other fees vary, depending on the season.
If you can do it outside, chances are you can do it at Clinton State Park. To get to the park, either take Clinton Parkway west to its end, or 6th Street West and Highway 10 south. Follow the signs.
The public beach at the park's eastern edge is why most people make the trek out to the town of Clinton. Bloomington also boasts several boat ramps and over 350 camping sites, as well as a couple playgrounds for the kids.
Day use fees are less expensive here, and can be paid at the self-pay stations at the park's entrances. Boat ramp fees are $2 per day per vehicle. The beach is free for kids under 12, and for adults it is just $1, up to a $3 maximum per vehicle.
The Clinton Lake Museum is just off the beach, and is open every Friday and Saturday afternoon from 1-5 p.m.
For campers on an extended stay, the Clinton Store can provide any extra supplies you might need. To get to the town of Clinton, and Bloomington Park, drive south across the dam, make the first right, and watch for the signs.
The main attraction of Rockhaven Park are the trails open to horseback riding. Three trails, totaling 50 miles, extend to the east and west of the trail head camping area.
Picnic tables, grills and fire rings can all be found at the camp sites. The trails cover a variety of terrain: over hills, across fields and along the shore.
You will pass Rockhaven Park on your way out to Bloomington. Just watch for the signs.
If the idea of roughing it interests you, or you want to get away from it all, but still be fairly close to town, then get your camping gear and head out to Woodridge Park.
The quickest way out to this remotest of the four Clinton Lake parks is to take Sixth Street west out of town. Bear left onto County Road 442 instead of following U.S. Highway 40 to Lecompton. Turn left onto County Road 1023 once you hit the town of Stull, and within a few miles you will see the sign to turn left to get to the park.
Once you get to the end of the dirt road, the Woodridge Primitive Camping area and George Latham Hiking Trail await. Water and restrooms can be found at the trail head, but those are the only amenities within the 4.5-mile circuit.
The more remote the setting, the better variety of flora and fauna can be found. Hikers can see beaver, coyote and white-tailed deer along the trail and by the lake.
Next week: disc golf at Centennial Park