Hike the George Lathan Hiking Trail

George Lathan Hiking Trail

Easy trail minutes outside of Lawrence, KS with primitive, lakeside campsites and perfect views for catching a beautiful sunrise over Clinton Lake. 

This four mile trail is located in the Woodridge Public Use Area, southwest of Lawrence and along the western edge of Clinton Lake.  Campsites are available without charge and without reservation, open to campers on a first-come, first-served basis. 

When you arrive at the trail head, you'll park in a circle lot.  There are several primitive campsites sprinkled around the lot leading up to the trail head, perfect for those looking to setup immediately without a hike.  The trail entrance is on the south end of the lot, looping you around the peninsula (counter-clockwise if you're looking at a map) before dumping you out into the north end of the lot.

The first mile and a half of the trail is well-maintained and heavily traveled. There are about 15 campsites in total, a majority of which branch off of this first segment of trail.  The middle of the trail is clearly less traveled, overgrown - definitely wear pants - and doesn't have any campsites.  The tail end of the trail opens back up and hosts the final few campsites available to settle in to.

This trail is mostly wooded with a couple stints along a prairie and a few openings to the lake. Overall it's an easy trail to hike. There are several areas with loose rock and slopes that could trip you up if you get a little complacent.  There are also a handful of small, shallow creek crossings, but even with a little recent rain, these were all dried up on my trip in late September.  There's also a couple benches stationed along the trail, great for bird watching and taking in views of the lake. 

All the camps are clearly marked. My favorite was campsite #5, a large flat site about a half mile from the trail head with two fire rings, log benches, direct access to the lake's shore - with a perfect view of the sunrise - and trees perfectly spaced for hammocks. 

Overall, this is a great trail with a selection of well-maintained campsites and views of Clinton Lake.

Pack List

  • Backpacking/Camping Gear
  • Food & Water
  • Comfy Shoes
  • Camera
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RT Distance 4 Miles
Elevation Gain 291 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

A great little spot to get away

Nestled in the hills surrounding Clinton Lake, west of Lawrence KS, is where my girlfriend and I found ourselves hiking through the brush to try out our new camping gear. We have always been interested in backpack camping and we decided this was the year we would start so we purchased some essentials like a hammock and several accessories for it and headed out to the far side of the lake. Woodridge public use area is perfect for people who want a more rustic and authentic type of camp out, no real room for campers or RVs this is a tent and hang out or hike and hammock type of place. The entrance has plenty of space for people looking to tent it and cook out with nice little grilles and fire pits aplenty but if you go a little bit east of the entrance you’ll find a very fun little trail with plenty of camping spots scattered up and down it. We made it to campsite 3 which is down by the lake and pretty wide open but has just the right amount of tree coverage. We got a small fire going at one of the three pits and had a wonderful night just the two of us enjoying the sound of the water sloshing up against the pebbled beach. When the sun came up the following morning it was a beautiful view of the lake and the hike back to the car was a nice little jaunt. Overall it’s not the most breathtaking of spots or the most technical of hikes but for 0 dollars to get in and the ability to camp wherever you want it is a hidden little gem. Too many times I feel like people these days are looking for the biggest or best or the baddest places to take a selfie at or Instagram post and we lose site of what makes camping and hiking fun, the ability to get out there and experience the world in all of its natural beauty. It ain’t perfect but who the hell is.


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