8 Wonders of Kansas geography

An 8 Wonder of Kansas Geography

Cross Timbers State Park, near Toronto

Address: 144 Highway 105, Toronto, KS 66777
Website: www.kdwp.state.ks.us/news/State-Parks/Locatio

Cross Timbers State Park is a finalist because...it contains one of the most northern extensions of the Cross Timbers ecosystem, including oaks that date back to 1730 and rugged sandstone-capped hills.

Photo courtesy CTSP
What are the Cross Timbers?

This area represents a tension zone, which is where the prairie attempts to take over the forest and the forest tries to take over the prairie. Cross Timbers form the transitional boundary between the eastern deciduous forest and the prairie.  The dominant trees in the Cross Timbers are Black Jack and Post Oak. They are accompanied by others such as Eastern Red-cedar, Northern Red Oak, White Oak, White Ash, Bitternut, Mockernut Hickory, and Winged Elm. The oldest of the oak trees date back to 1730.   The youngest of the Cross Timber trees are 170 years old.

Mann's Cove, Toronto Reservoir, CTS
Cross Timbers State Park is located on the banks of the Verdigris River in southeast Kansas and at Toronto Reservoir.  
Hike into the Cross Timbers -- and directions to get there.
From U.S. Highway 54 and Kansas Highway 105, go south two-and-one-half miles through Toronto, staying on K-105, then at the eastern edge of Toronto, turn south on Toronto Point Road and follow this to the park and pay station. Directly west of the pay station is the trail head. This mile-long trail is a delight to hikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and historians alike.

Photo courtesy CTSP
Some of the ancient trees have interpretive markers that tell the events of the day when the trees were in sapling stage.  Here are two samples of the markers:

  • "1790 -This tree was thirteen years old in 1803 when the French sold Kansas Territory, a part of the Louisiana Purchase, to the recently formed United States".
  • "1734-Bobcat, buffalo, antelope, gray wolf, elk, deer, black and grizzly bear were some of the larger animals found in the Cross Timbers when this tree was beginning to grow. Of those large animals, only the bobcat and deer still call this habitat home almost 300 years later."
This area, including the other trails, campsites, modern cabins, lake, and other accommodations is known as one of the cleanest and well-maintained recreational areas in the state. Cross Timbers is truly a unique environment in Kansas and beyond.

Photo courtesy CTSP