HILLSDALE STATE PARK
Located between Spring Hill and Paola, about 3 miles east of US-169/K-7and 255th St interchange
Conveniently located south of the Kansas City Metro Area, one of Kansas newest reservoirs awaits visitors to its more than 12,000 acres of park and wildlife area. Completed in 1982, more than 70 percent of the standing timber was left in the reservoir basin to provide fish habitat. Walleye, catfish, largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill are abundant. Approximately 4,500 acres of water and 51 miles of shoreline are open to fishing. Roughly 7,000 acres are open to hunting at Hillsdale within the wildlife area and state park.
Common wildlife includes whitetail deer, bobwhite quail, squirrel, rabbit, beaver, muskrat, and a variety of waterfowl. Birdwatchers will see bald eagles, shorebirds, finches, warblers, sparrows, and hawks.
The Saddle Ridge equestrian area on the east side of the reservoir has about 32 miles of marked trails available to horseback riders.
Travelers to Hillsdale Lake should stop at the visitor center at the northeast end of the dam. Many interpretive displays explain the lake's history, recreational opportunities, and natural resources. If you are planning to visit the western parts of the lake, be sure to pick up a map because the roads can be confusing. Behind the center, bird feeders attract resident sparrows, juncos, woodpeckers, and chickadees. The 1.5-mile Hidden Spring Nature Trail, which begins at the visitor center, takes hikers through an oak-hickory forest. Look for fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, woodland birds, and a couple of the most respected reptiles in eastern Kansas the venomous timber rattlesnake and the copperhead. Flocks of ducks, geese, pelicans, and gulls are seen on the lake during migrations. Late November may bring large flocks of snow geese. At the bridge over Little Bull Creek, scan the flooded timber for wintering bald eagles. Throughout the year, look for cormorants, gulls, grebes, and ducks. A great blue heron nesting colony is visible to the west from the Rock Creek bridge. With binoculars and a spotting scope, approximately 50 large stick nests can be seen in the tallest sycamores growing from the creek bottom about 0.5 miles away. Both equestrians and hikers can enjoy the 24 mile horse trail east of the lake. Caution This is in a hunting area, so wear bright colors during hunting seasons.
Hillsdale lake was completed in 1982, and Hillsdale State Park officially opened in 1994.