Kansas’ newest state park adds to the prolific trail systems found in Southeast Kansas making the region a top destination for outdoor adventurers. Lehigh Portland State Park is the 29th State Park in Kansas, with over 13 miles of well-maintained trails, it offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Header Photo: Randy Rasa

Lehigh Portland State Park, situated on the grounds of a former cement plant, seamlessly blend industrial history with natural beauty. The trails wind through a diverse terrain, showcasing woodlands, prairies, and wetlands. As you traverse the paths, you'll encounter an array of wildlife, from vibrant butterflies to the melodic songs of native birds.

Lehigh Portland State Park

For this segment, we parked at the Eastern Trailhead and had a quick ¼ mile hike on the East Loop Trail to reach the scenic views of Lake Lehigh atop the rocky bluffs of the lake’s edge. We were able to take one of the side trails down to the lake bottom and explore the sandy beach and rock piles. I kept thinking how amazing it will be to bring the kids this summer and let them play in the crystal blue waters after a day of hiking and exploring.

Lehigh Portland State Park

Lehigh Portland State Park

I highly recommend hiking to John Brown’s Cave along the Cave Trail South. You can access the trail by continuing east from the East Loop, connecting with South Loop, Rubble Ridge, onto Cave Trail South, or by parking at the trailhead on 1650th street. This type of natural cave is called a “Solutional Cave” and is formed in rock that is soluble, in this case, limestone. A small, intermittent stream enters the mouth of the cave and flows through to the exit below the bluffs along US-169 highway. The cave is nearly 300 feet in length and can be explored, just be sure to visit the Cave Safety and Etiquette Considerations here.

If you are looking to make a weekend out of your trip, Lehigh Portland State Park connects to the Southwind Trail just south of the Elm Creek Trestle Bridge. You can take the 6.5-mile trail from Iola to Humboldt, both communities have great shopping, eating, and drinking options.  You can also connect to the 51-mile Prairie Spirit Trail State Park which starts in Iola and ends in Ottawa. This area is truly a mecca for biking and hiking enthusiasts!

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