Pillsbury Crossing is NOT off the beaten path to young local families and to college kids. It is the place to hang out on a hot summer day.
Pillsbury Crossing is a shallow fording spot on Deep Creek, and unlike most in Kansas is on a solid slab of stone. It is located within a small wild life refuge south and east of Manhattan, Kansas, but the only wildlife I have ever seen is of the bikini'd variety.There is a small parking area, a few picnic facilities, and a primitive restroom.
Many park their cars or pickup trucks on the rock slab and set up their grills right in the water, some right at the edge of the waterfall. (Yes, even flat Kansas has waterfalls.) Frisbees and Nerf footballs fly about at random, and on every occasion I have visited, there were numerous families with small children and dogs. Park rangers patrol the place frequently creating a safe atmosphere.
A few feet south of the ford is a deep swimming hole, complete with a rope swing tied to a tall old cottonwood tree. Fun stuff.
Just to the south of Manhattan about 35 miles on Hwy 177 is Council Groves. It has recorded 28 buildings/homes on the National Register of historic and unique preserved buildings. A tour around the town is quite pleasant and all the people in town are proud to show off those places. The town got a start with Seth Hayes building some retail stores and place to eat back in 1857. Then later the other merchants served settlers as the "last chance" to get supplies before heading west and no other place to get provisions for 1,000 miles. The Santa Fe Trail and Oregon trail were key to access through here, and the greenery from the local river attracted many to enjoy the scenery before taking the risk going west.
There are hundreds of huge wind turbines in the fields to the west of Manhattan and the setting is awe inspiring. So many are twirling in the wind, and the size is hard to imagine until you get up close. A new industry for this windy flat terrain. The wind that rushes through the plains is a good place to have these energy machines.Sometimes that winter wind at 40-50 MPH can get brutal, but the propellers of the wind turbines turn fast then and produce that energy.
There are over 10 homes that were built in 1852 range that still stand today and are occupied by officers families. Renovated on the inside to and they also now have lights, heat and water facilities inside, the outside structures remain intact, but preserved. it is nostalgic to see these type places back from another era. Living was not so bad for them back then, other than disease, and wars; everyday occurance yet.
Junction City and Manhattan are nearly "linked" these days. Over the years urban spread of growth has brought both closer together. Since around WWII there has also been a lot of ties between the two cities, where soldiers live in Manhattan and some go to school there, while the civilian population has civil service jobs on the military base.
This home is one a a string still remaining along Sheridan Street. All have been restored and revamped, but the outside facade has withstood the times of weather, being made from local limestone; little had eroded. The interior of this home is depicting one similar to what Gen George Custer would have lived in during his stay on the fort in late 1866-until death at Little Big Horn in 1876.
The fort is an integral part of the region, and a number of military live in Manhattan area.
This museum is very well presented of the evolution of the Cavalry that housed itself in this fort. It had many famed people and names to attach to the adventures of the cavalry, with Custer being only one of many. There are a number of valued art pieces on display, also. The cavalry school began operations here in 1892 and it lasted through WWI and still the tradition continued til Vietnam era.
The 1st Division-Big Red One also has a fine museum next door that is worth the visit. It has been a part of many hard fought battles since inception and always came away proud and courageous.
Museums are open 9-4:30 Monday-Sat and 12-4:30 Sunday.
This is a 1,200 acre park surrounding Kansas's second largest reservoir. There are campgrounds and cabins, numerous nature trails, a mountain biking trail, and a scenic equestrian trail offer explorers a variety of routes to experience the aesthetic Flint Hills environment. Scenic picnic areas, an 18-hole disc golf course, volleyball courts, horse shoe pits, and conveniently placed restroom and shower facilities accommodate park visitors. The state-of-the-art Fancy Creek Shooting Range is open the first and third full weekends of each month.
Excellent channel cat and flathead fishing is available in the lake and in the river above and below the lake. Fair numbers of bass are caught near standing timber and brush piles, and walleye can be taken off the face of the dam as well as in the river below. During the Spring there is ample opportunity to catch master angler white bass and crappie. The 12,000-acre wildlife area adjacent to the park offers excellent hunting and wildlife watching opportunities.
A not so well known area is Top of the World. It may not be the tallest point in Manhattan, but it's very peaceful. There is a small walking trail there and an area that overlooks Manhattan and Tuttle Creek Lake. From a distance you can see the big KS sign from there too.
Many like to go there searching for the child within. A friend of mine had gone up there, totally upset (not at me, of course) and just screamed her head off. Okay...whatever crunches your cookie. Made her feel better though so I guess she found some sort of inner peace...or something.
The area is not well maintenanced so I hope your vehicle has some great shocks. The monstrous pot holes can be murder! The day we went on Top of the World there were some good storms passing by. Check out the travelogues for more pics of that evening.
You take Seth Childs Road also known as K- 113 go past the big Farm Bureau Building and Top of the World is to the left. Follow the road up the hill.
After a good rainstorm, locals tend to gravitate to Pillsbury Crossing. This is the spot where Deep Creek flows over a 40 feet wide limestone ledge and forms a waterfall with a drop of about 4 feet. Just upstream, about 100 feet of the road crosses the ledge and vehicles travel through several inches of water. (During high water, this road is absolutely not passable!)
A short hiking trail leads through the woods from the parking lot on the west side along the edge of the creek, and up to a prairie overlook. A great blue heron rookery has been active in recent years a short distance away. The birds usually occupy the nests by mid-March.
The whole area is a wildlife reserve (so no hunting the beavers and woodchucks!)
Best time to go is after a good rain, the waterfall is in full force. People do swim in the rock bottom creek, despite the signs. You can also take a small canoe or a kayak and go about 1/2 mile upstream.
Sorry...not gonna tell you how to get there and there are not a lot of signage. Anyway, finding it is half the fun. If you get lost...you can call me.
THERE ARE MORE PICS OF PILLSBURY CROSSING IN MY TRAVELOGUE
When I saw that there was a newly constucted scenic overlook facing Konza Prairie on K-177, I thought to myself what a waste of tax payers dollars. Who is going to look at a bunch of hills. Upon further investigation (and I had nothing better to do) I found that they also had picnic tables, trails and benches. The overlook also faces west so watch the sun set in the evening. It is also a decent place for watching thunderstorms/lightning. (But you didn't hear that from me because being out in a thunderstorm is DANGEROUS.) So, okay...maybe it's not a total waste of tax payers dollars.
Oh yeah, and Make out point #4.
Approx 5 miles south of Manhattan on K-177.
Before we head out onto the lake or the spillway to do some fishing we make a pitstop at Derick's Bait & Tackle. (I know....Hickville...USA)
Growing up, I used to love coming here because they have live bait, mostly minnows and nightcrawlers. It's been a tradition to make a pitstop here and grab some bait, snacks, soda, ice and our fishing licenses. (very important to have)
Open 7 days a week
4700 Tuttle Creek Blvd.
Manhattan, KS 66502
At this same park there was a little duckling who had lost its way from its parents and spent most of the afternoon by us...this was one of my MANY attempts to pet the duckling. I actually resorted to getting in the pond, but that proved unsuccessful as well and I almost lost my shoe!
The visitor bureau is across the street from the library and the courthouse at 501 Poyntz. I was there on a Saturday and it was not open so I did not get much help from them. They have a web site at www.manhattan.org .
On June 23rd, 2001 my wife and I returned to the 'Little Apple' for a music concert. It is a huge 3 day event with new great bands every two hours. I've added a travelogue about the 'Country Stampede' at Tuttle Creek if you are interested.