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Kansas River Water Trail

posted Nov 9, 2011, 11:05 AM by Ramandeep Dulku
Water Trail
Topeka, Kansas
Project Description and Need: The Kansas River, one of only three publicly navigable

waterways in Kansas, flows for 170 miles through both urban areas and rural landscapes.

The history of the Kansas River—sometimes locally known as the “Kaw”—includes

significant events in the development and settling of the nation. Lewis and Clark’s Corps

of Discovery camped at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers in 1804 and

noted that the river was “navigable for 80 leagues.” The river valley provided a route for

overland migration to California and Oregon. The United States military used the river

route to establish Fort Riley and as a supply route between other frontier posts, like Fort

Leavenworth. Significant riverside historic sites open for visitors include Fort Riley, The

First Territorial Capital, Historic Lecompton, Topeka, Kaw Point Park in Kansas City,

and the Kansas History Center. The Kansas River historically linked these sites.

The Kansas River is a unique natural resource for Kansas and provides an attractive

regional recreational opportunity. Over two million people live in the various cities

and towns along the river, from the Kansas City metro area west to Junction City. The

designation and development of a “Kansas River Water Trail” is a high priority for the

Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and would be the state’s first public water

trail. Historically, the lack of river access sites has limited paddle sports in Kansas and

forced people to travel to other states for these pursuits. Currently there are 17 developed

public access points on the river and another under construction. Last year, Kaw River

State Park opened to the public in Topeka. Even with these developments, there are gaps

in desired access points, including one 37-mile segment, which is significantly more than

the 10 to 15 miles required for day trips.

Potential Action:
Designate the Kansas River Water Trail and provide financial and

technical assistance to increase access to the river.

NPS, City of Topeka, State of Kansas, local governments, and nonprofit
Link to the Original Website: