Cross Timbers State Park and Toronto Lake

Chautauqua Hills sandstone


Cross Timbers State Park—surrounding Toronto Lake in southwestern Woodson County and a short distance into Greenwood County—provides an up-close look at the thick sandstone layers that help shape the Chautauqua Hills region and the coinciding ancient hardwood trees and grasslands of the Cross Timbers ecoregion.

The rocks, mainly sandstones, in the Chautauqua Hills are part of the Tonganoxie Sandstone Member of the Stranger Formation and Ireland Sandstone Member of the Lawrence Formation. Locally known as the Chautauqua sandstone, the thick rock units formed primarily from sand, silt, and mud deposited in an ancient river valley on the northern edge of a Pennsylvanian sea about 300 million years ago. Later buried and compacted, the sand deposits were compressed into sandstone and the muds into shale.

The Cross Timbers ecoregion, which stretches from Texas into the Chautauqua Hills region of Kansas, has a combination of dense hardwood growth, savanna (grassy woodlands), and glade (open areas within a woodland). Trees and shrubs found in the park include post oak, blackjack oak, northern red oak, black hickory, bitternut hickory, sumac, rusty blackhaw, serviceberry, dogwood, and green ash. Grasses include little bluestem, big bluestem, and Indiangrass.

Cross Timbers State Park, which lies in the gently rolling Verdigris River valley, has miles of trails for walking, hiking, and backpacking. All but Ancient Oaks Trail—an interpretive trail featuring trees dated as far back as the 1720s—are also open to runners and mountain bikers. Toronto Lake is a reservoir built on the Verdigris River, and boating, camping, and other recreational opportunities are available.


Woodson County

Woodson County locator map

Greenwood County

Greenwood County locator map



Toronto Wildlife Area