Oregon Trail Nature Park
This park was developed with the help of the Western Resources Green Team. It is actually part of the grounds associated with the Jeffrey Energy Center. If you take the Sea of Grass trail up to the top of the ridge, you will have a spectacular 360 degree panorama which includes the power plant and its principal cooling lake to the north. To the south, stretching from one horizon to the other, is the Kaw River valley, which marks the southerly edge of the great Pleistocene glaciers. This is a great spot to scan for red-tailed hawks, northern harriers and turkey vultures. The tallgrass prairie along this trail has an abundance of wildflowers. Look for rose verbena, New Jersey tea and green milkweed in May and Purple Coneflower in summer.
From March through November look in the grasslands for upland sandpipers, eastern meadowlarks, dickcissels, mourning doves, and grasshopper sparrows. Booming grounds of greater prairie chickens are nearby. Quail, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, raccoons, and coyotes are common. On rare occasions a bobcat is seen. The rocky outcrops on the hill slopes are good places to look for basking eastern collared lizards.
The trees by either of the two small ponds may have a kingfisher. Listen for the distinctive calls of great crested flycatchers and eastern wood pewees.
On site is an old silo which was painted with a three-part mural by local artist Cynthia Martin. One panel recalls the time of the Oregon Trail. The second illustrates a bison hunt of the Plains Indians. The third depicts Kansas wildlife.
Camping not allowed.
Directions: The Oregon Trail Nature Park is located ~30 miles northwest of Topeka between Belvue and St. Marys, just off U.S. 24.
For a Google Map of this site, click here.
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