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Hike the Elk River Hiking Trail

Independence, Kansas

based on 1 reviews



14.1 miles

Elevation Gain

866 ft

Route Type



Added by Mike Ditch Jr.

Immerse yourself in a secluded area of Kansas that feels anything but Kansas-like. 30 foot tall boulders greet you at the entrance, and the first mile of the hike winds through and around rock walls unlike anything you'll find in the Sunflower State.

Just west of the Elk City Lake Dam is a small parking area. The scarcity of foot traffic is highlighted by the size of the parking lot. You'll begin your hike by crossing over a minimal footbridge that spans a small stream. Once over the stream, you begin a slightly moderate climb up the trail to the large rock wall. Once there, you can walk through the 20-30 foot tall rock structure and begin the 14-mile point-to-point hike.

Once you get around the rock wall, about a mile in, you come to a narrow drop that may require some finessing depending on your pack load. After this narrow drop, the rest of the hike follows the northern and western border of the lake. Depending on recent rainfall, there may be some water features. However, when I visited there were no waterfalls or streams as it was near the end of an exceptionally dry winter.

The trail is hilly for Kansas, and the terrain is not exactly smooth. Good hiking shoes are a must, and trekking poles for balance on the rocks and mud would be useful if it's recently rained. There are several scenic points overlooking the lake that make for a good resting/eating stop. The trails are marked pretty well, but at times it can become unclear exactly which way to go if you're not paying attention.

Trekking poles would be considered necessary if it's recently rained and the trail is muddy. With Kansas' extreme weather, certain clothing may be required during certain seasons (winter coat, hat to block the sun in the summer, etc.)

Head to the Kansas Trails Council website for updates and contact information. 

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Family Friendly
Picnic Area

Hike the Elk River Hiking Trail Reviews

While it's not Yosemite or Rocky Mountain National Park, it is one of the best hikes you'll find in Kansas.

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