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The Trails of Cross Timbers State Park

Toronto, Kansas
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We weren't at Cross Timbers State Park near Toronto for an official ERV visit, just for fun.

I tell you what...

If I had extra time, I'd be walking every trail in every Kansas state park.  It would be a great way to learn the diverse geography of our state.

We hit the jackpot with three of the trails at Cross Timbers State Park.

We walked the Ancient Oaks Trail (one mile); the Chautauqua Hills Trail (1 1/2 mile); and the Overlook Trail (1 1/4 mile). 

The Ancient Oaks Trail showcases some of the oldest post oaks in the area with interesting plaques that relate historical times in the United States with the age of the tree. 

The Overlook Trail includes a highlight location on a cliff overlooking the lake.

Chautauqua Hills Trail starts with the bridge above.  Each trail has plenty of the sandstone scattered about but this one shows it off in huge slabs.  The lake inlet is seen below much of the trail and is just beautiful.

In each case you're in among the trees with either the lake or inlet visible somewhere along the trail.  The trails are well marked.  The sandstone comes in all sizes and I called it debris (in a positive way) because it is scattered everywhere.  I wonder what caused that.

I found myself wishing that all the dry creeks could be babbling.  It would have been beautiful.  Filled with cascading rock, it must be so refreshing and picturesque when they are running.

Even on hot days you are well sheltered by the tree canopy.

The hikes were just barely strenuous so most people could do them.  Lots of rocks jut up from the trail so you have to keep alert but it adds to the adventure.

I kept saying I felt like John James Aububon... 




 

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Toronto is where you'll find Lizard Lips, Italian food, and great hiking trails!

Toronto, Kansas
Lizard Lips is a place that ERV likes to go.



Also known as Country Junction, Lizard Lips was the object of a Kansas Explorers Club campaign in 2000 to get 1,000 Explorers to go there and make a $5 purchase.  Every off season Lizard Lips had to take out a $5,000 loan to keep the small staff employed.  Explorers wanted to help. More than a 1,000 people did go to make the $5 purchase!


Lizard Lips is a combination convenience store, grill and deli, and bait shop.

If you're driving by, stop for a daily special or sandwich or get it to go for a picnic at the nearby reservoir and state park.

Helper Tishamarie showcases one of the bait options -- worms!



Lizard Lips is open seven days a week from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and is located at the Toronto exit on U.S. 54.

From Lizard Lips, take K-105 south into Toronto.  Toronto, population 280, is the town closest to Toronto Reservoir and Cross Timbers State Park.  It's also on the northern end of the Chautauqua Hills physio-graphic region.





Toronto, like many towns, has abandoned buildings.  The facades tell the story of a once prosperous town.  











 













Somehow these towns still find a way to keep going. 

Note the library, the market and deli, and the city hall.  There is lots of action at the library and it serves as the town information center, too! 
  
 
"Courtney's Places" utilizes one of the older buildings in town. (120 W Main, 620.637.0175). She is open Wednesday-Saturday 6-8 p.m. and Sunday 6-7 p.m.  If you want pizza, she opens at 4 p.m. on those days.

As soon as you swing open the "Rainbo Bread" screen door and step inside, you'll know that you've stepped into an Explorer experience.



Cloth tablecloths, eclectic wooden chairs.



Cloth napkins.  Tiny white lights. 



Murals.  Homey touches.  Sometime they have music.













And this is one-of-a-kind Courtney.  She continues to adapt the place to meet the needs of her customers.  It's made-from-scratch Italian sauces and recipes and the hand-tossed pizza with imaginative toppings is so good.  Her desserts are tops on the temptation list, too!

It's a great find in a small town.








There are some really good trails at Cross Timbers State Park.  Three of our favorites are Chautauqua Hills Trail, Overlook Trail, and Ancient Timbers Trail.



This is the start to the Chautauqua Hills Trail.  The short scenic loop is 1 1/2 miles.  Read more about our hikes on these trails.

You never know what you'll find in and just beyond these small towns.  Give them a try!

 

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