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  1. #1
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    Switchgrass/Wilson Lake, KS

    I am planning a camping/riding trip to Wilson Lake this year. I have never been out there and was wondering about best time of year. I am thinking April that way it won't be too hot yet. I am coming from KC so its not that big of a haul out there. Any suggestions/pointers are appreciated!

  2. #2
    2006 Yeti AS-X
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    Hey there, I am a fellow KC area rider and I went out to Wilson Lake back last September during the Labor Day weekend - it was 103 degrees and trails were very sandy because of the drought.

    I imagine April should be fine - just pay attention to the weather as that time of year tends to be wet around our parts as I am sure you are aware of - they have the same issues with their trails as we do when they get precipitation.

    Other than precip - if the trails are dry I would think the temps would be pretty comfortable. Not much shade on the trails and you will suck water like a baby on a bottle - I had a 2L bladder and after 9 miles, I was sucking air through the hose. But again, it was 103 degrees when I rode.

    The town of Wilson is the closest town (700 people) and there is a couple of food joints in town and Exit 199 I believe there is a Conoco gas station so you can get ice. I didn't see an ice machine in the area of the campgrounds. There are shower facilities right at the trailhead so can clean up right after the ride. Exit 206/203 (one of those two) is the exit to Wilson/Wilson Lake.

    As far as the trails, they are pretty fun. Didn't get to ride Hell Creek loop which I have heard after I got back is the best trail there....be sure to hit that trail...it is right where the bridge across the lake is at. Make sure you take a map with you, there is alot of turnoffs on the trails which most of them take you back to the return trail to the trailhead.

    You will have a good time - I plan to head back myself.
    I don't use Strava. Don't need an application to tell me I am slow because I already know.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback! I am hoping April will be ok. I know Temps start rising in May out there. The good thing is it is not to far so it can always be rescheduled if needed.

    I was reading some reports on Earthriders forum also and saw your name on there (unless there is another Lawson Raider). I don't really post on there but always read for trail reports.

    I am excited about this trip but it is turning out to be a lot of beginners. Don't know if that is a good or bad thing but it will be fun. I will probably take them on some trial runs at Landahl.

    Thanks again for the input!

  4. #4
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    I'm from KC, also. I rode Switchgrass last June and was out there the first time it topped 110+. We started at 10am and rode to the the top of tower hill (on the Golden Belt loop), called it a day with the bikes. It was 115 when we got back to camp so we spent the rest of the day floating in the lake fishing. We got up with the sun the next day and finished the loop. As Lawson Raider said, it was very sandy.

    I plan to hopefully make a couple trips out there this year, or at least a 3-day trip so I can ride the rest. I'm really excited to ride Hell Creek. As has been said, everything I hear is it's the best there.

    There is ice at the marina store, but it is expensive. Take a good cooler (coleman xtreme) and buy your ice on the way or before you leave and you should be fine.

  5. #5
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    Rode there this past weekend. Awesome! Next time I'm going to skip the golden loop. And save my energy for he'll creek.

  6. #6
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    My LBS owner started that trail way back, and it's cool to see what it's become.
    Registered pedalphile.

  7. #7
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    I'm also planning on taking a trip to Wilson Lake this spring/summer. Looks like a great place to get away and see some new trails. (I'm from Des Moines area)

    Was also thinking about stopping in Lawrence and spending a day at the trails there.
    Nathan

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the pointers. Looking forward to riding this, hopefully weather cooperates.

    Barheet, if you are down that way Lawrence is worth stopping at. I love hitting those trails followed up by a visit to FreeState for some food and great beer.

  9. #9
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    Dispatcher just told me. I'm dropping a load in russel. Might have to bring my bike, and hit the trails while I'm out there.

  10. #10
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    The Kansas Fat Tire Festival will be the first weekend in May...lots of good people and activitites.
    (if thats your thing).
    We camp at the trail head...plenty of rv hookups and dry camping options.
    Kansas Fat Tire Festival

    Tim

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barheet View Post
    I'm also planning on taking a trip to Wilson Lake this spring/summer. Looks like a great place to get away and see some new trails. (I'm from Des Moines area)

    Was also thinking about stopping in Lawrence and spending a day at the trails there.
    I doubt you'll regard either of those decisions. I live about 25 mins from Lawrence. Really enjoy Clinton Lake. LTR is fun too if you just want some fun rolling hard pack.

    Been too Switchgrass once (last fall) and we had a blast. We'll certainly be going back. Bathrooms were shutdown but the campsites were pretty decent. Have decent tires or run stans...there are thorns/cactus that love thin tires as my lil bro found out several times.

  12. #12
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    Any current reports of trail conditions?

    Could head out there next week possibly but a bit of a drive. I was going to overnight in Salina so I could hit it early one day.

    Weather shows rain there Sunday and possibly Monday.

    Might try calling the number listed on their website Tuesday to see if they have any ideas on conditions.

  13. #13
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    https://www.facebook.com/SwitchgrassTrail
    You may get some current info here.

  14. #14
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    Excellent, Thank you.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by timbone View Post
    The Kansas Fat Tire Festival will be the first weekend in May...lots of good people and activitites.
    (if thats your thing).
    We camp at the trail head...plenty of rv hookups and dry camping options.
    Kansas Fat Tire Festival
    Tim
    A group of from St. Louis are thinking of attending this but from the looks of it this event is geared more to the racers than the non-racers.
    Are there any events at the Kansas Fat Tire Festival to keep a rowdy group of non-racers placiated for the weekend? Their website is rather vague.

  16. #16
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    I'm not sure about all the activities...we mostly ride Friday evening and Saturday and don't usually do the races.
    You could call Doug at the bike shop to see what he has planned for sure.
    800 561 2453

  17. #17
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    Just wondering if anyone had a good idea on how fast/slow these trails dry out? I am planning a mtb/camping trip next weekend. I have been watching the weather pretty close but know it change change anytime. Right now they are saying some rain on Tues and then 3 days of sun. I would assume since there is no trees/shade and sandy it should dry out but I am used to KC trails. Worst case scenario we just camp, fish, and drink all weekend so not all is lost.

  18. #18
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    They take rain well and dry fast...looking as the forcast....you should be good.

  19. #19
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    Thanks timbone, that is what I thought but as I have never been there wasn't sure.

  20. #20
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    i was in russell wednesday very rainy. are the trails a go or no go? i'm gonna drive 4 hours south or west tomorrow.

  21. #21
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    I made it out there this past weekend. It ended up being plenty dry and ridable. The weather was quite cold on Friday night and nothing but constant wind but I am guessing that's the norm out there.

    As far as the trails go I must say they are quite stellar. The system is well laid out. We got the chance to visit with Bob who maintains the trails for a while which was nice. I took the newbs out on the beginner trails which had a pretty decent flow and climbs. After that a few of the more advanced riders went out on the Golden Loop. The first 3 miles has some pretty awesome Tech stuff. There is also plenty of climbing. If it wasn't for fighting the wind all the time I think we would have rode longer but that wore us down pretty quick. We headed back to the campsite to get some beer and food then went back out to hit Hell Creek. Hell Creek didn't have as much tech stuff but still plenty of climbing, awesome views, and fun trails.

    We didn't hit any of the Marina/Purple loop. I would say these trails are definitely worth the trip.

  22. #22
    boomer
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    What's the climbing and mileage like on each loop? KS tourism is running ads on Tulsa tv showing Lake Wilson.
    Calvin

  23. #23
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    Starting at the trail head and doing the whole thing gets you about 22 miles with 1600' of elevation gain. Will take 3 hours if you stop and enjoy the sights.
    The beginner/warmup loop adds a few more and is worth riding.

  24. #24
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    I don't know about each loop, but the whole shebang is 22 miles and 2k" of climbing. Infinite fun.
    Registered pedalphile.

  25. #25
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    Lots-n-lots of switchbacks. Some techy, Some short

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