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Elk River Hiking Trail is a 14.1 mile heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near Elk City, Kansas that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 14.1 mi Elevation gain 866 ft Route type Point to Point
Dogs on leash Backpacking Camping Fishing Hiking Nature trips Bird watching Running Forest Lake River Views Waterfall Wild flowers Wildlife Bugs Muddy Rocky Scramble
Description
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Getting There

The Elk River Hiking Trail is located on the northwest side of Elk City Lake. The trail can be accessed from two main trailheads. Primitive campsites are located all along the length of the trail. The Elk River Hiking Trail offers panoramic views from the tops of the many limestone bluffs on the northwestern shores of Elk City Lake. The trail crosses several small streams and ravines and winds through narrow canyons and under rock overhangs. The trail has blue trail blazes and mile markers for traveling both directions.

Parking can be done at either of the trailheads or at any of the gravel roads intersecting the trail. Camping can be done at primitive campsites located all along the length of the trail.

4825 Squaw Creek Rd Independence, KS 67301 Phone: 620-331-6295 GPS: N37 15.415 W95 46.487

The Northeastern trailhead is located below the west end of the dam across from the Fish & Wildlife Office. The Southwestern trailhead can be reached from Highway 160 south of Elk City, Kansas. There are also several gravel roads intersecting the trail which can be accessed from County Roads north of the lake.

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Reviews (258)
Photos (343)
Recordings (190)
Completed (357)
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Douglas Cook
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 19, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful scenery on the trail. The trail is very challenging. There is flat rock everywhere along the trail so you must be careful with every step. Hiked the entire 15 mile trail, point to point, starting on the east side. Took about 6 hours at a persistent pace. Well worth the trip.

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Craig Martin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 16, 2020
Hiking
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Craig Martin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 15, 2020
Hiking
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Craig Martin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 15, 2020
Hiking
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Austin Bailey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 3, 2020
Hiking
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Tommy White
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 3, 2020
Hiking
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Kim Morrissey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 26, 2020
Hiking

This trail is rated moderate but I would share that starting at the east trailhead at the start is rugged for the until Mile three. My group started there and hiked in three miles and back out. Great views! Unfortunately some people are not hauling out their own trash. On day two, we found a trailhead at mile 9.5 on CR5500. If you pick up a trail map at the east trailhead you can easily find the mid trailhead. We hiked in from 9.5 back to mile marker 3. If was a less rugged trail. We hiked through several areas that had flowers and beautiful purple thistles. We did encounter two large wasp nests, a tarantula, two small green snakes and a larger snake that slithered off the side of trail. We did 13 miles in 7 hours with stops fir lunch and photo ops. Our group plans to come back to do the whole trail from point to point before our trip to hike Half Dome in Yosemite next fall!

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Kait Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 20, 2020
Hiking
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Kait Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 19, 2020
Hiking
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Deirdre Schneider
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 19, 2020
Hiking

Great trail. Will be back.

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Michael Burris
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 19, 2020
Hiking
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Vanessa Drummond
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 13, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful & challenging trail. 2 Wasp nests & a huge tree down made it extra exciting. Be careful!

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Ronnie Brewster
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 12, 2020
BackpackingBlowdownMuddyOver grown

The trail was muddy for the 1st 2 miles and then it was ok. The trail is in need of maintenance. There are several downed trees blocking the trail and many of the blue blazes are gone. All in all it was a good hike, the trail is just not as well kept as usual.

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Danielle Holt
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 30, 2020
Hiking

It was a nice trail but full of spiders. Started on the eastern side and was planning 7mi in and back for 14mi but turned around a little past 4mi due to spiders - just got tired of having to clear them. otherwise it has some good views and lovely trail

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Loretta Brooks
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 29, 2020
Hiking

We started at mile 15 and hiked in about 4 miles, camped for the night and hiked back out. lots of bluffs to climb through.

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Jaycee Newton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 23, 2020
Hiking
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Alana Gilman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking

Rocky terrain. Good weather. Well marked trail. Not the best for a beginner hiker

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Emily Renner
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 3, 2020
Hiking

It was hot as all get out and apparently hadn’t rained much in a while so I’m guessing what would have normally been easy water access points were all dry. As such there weren’t any easy access points to water sources. It was easier to hike down to water by the lake but otherwise it made camping at the primitive spots not the most fun. We started at the east end and worked our way west, going the other way might have been better given the weather. It is a really beautiful trail to hike for sure, but I think I’d rather do it during the spring when it’s a bit cooler and/or when there’s been more precipitation. We waited til July because last time I hiked around elk city lake there were parts of the trail that were washed out/muddy but I’d be okay with that is it means there’s water. Saw armadillos, snakes, deer, and a bob cat family pretty cool!

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Justice Coates
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 3, 2020
Hiking

Went around 1pm. Started on the east side.. veryyyy beautiful hike! I’d say it’s for more experienced hikers. I love it. Take water, great workout.

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Melinda Jones
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 25, 2020
Hiking

Started on the East side. Had a very enjoyable hike. Beautiful views and love those big rocks. About a mile in we came face to face with two immature vultures, not flying yet. They were huge and let us pass without any problems. A special encounter. I was two years out from a knee replacement, it was my goal to walk this trail again. With the aid of hand carved walking stick, and a patient husband, I made my goal. Next time I may bring an empty backpack to pick up other hikers trash! Just don’t understand littering!!

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Matt Hall
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 13, 2020
Backpacking

Started at the east end and walked 5 miles in before returning to the camp site 1 mile in from the start. No sources of water, so bring your own. Camp site had a beautiful view and a nice breeze on a warm day. Overall the trail is fantastic with nice rock formations to explore and views to enjoy. Be sure to go into the ranger station at the trail head to get some advice. The dude looked pretty bored...

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Heather Reighard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 24, 2020
HikingFloodedMuddyOff trail

Started on the west side at end. Walked about 3/4 mile. Walked around the flooded river, then walked a bit further around and were stuck. So headed back to car. Parked at 9 mile trailhead. Headed East it was flooded maybe 1/4 mile in. Turned around to go west. We walked around the flooded trail and got to about the 12 1/2 mile marker. There we saw a mama beaver who looked pregnant. Also saw a copperhead. The trail was flooded here as well, so we turned around to head back to the parking lot. We camped slightly past the parking lot. Great spot right off the trail and a fire pit. Saw a couple armadillos at night. Had to walk quite a bit off the trail due to flooding. I’m sure it is absolutely beautiful as others had described. We will be back to explore when it’s less flooded.

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Austin Ray
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 22, 2020
HikingOff trail

May 22nd - 24th. Had a great two night backpacking trip Memorial Day weekend. Started at the east trail head and went west as far as I could then hiked back. This is the best trail I’ve found in Kansas and reminds me of the Ozarks. Called the ranger and he said the lake was 10ft higher than normal so expect some detours that add about 3 additional miles. I encountered 3 detours between mile markers 6 and 8 I believe, and another around mile marker 11. There is bushwhacking and finding your own way involved with these detours which makes this trail even harder than normal. A more pleasurable experience would be when the lake is much lower. I hiked as far as I could past the small water fall along the gravel road past the weird house on the west end until it went under water. It’s best to start on the east end or at the road around mile marker 13. Found two nice camp spots but I wish there were a few more established spots to pick from. Also please remember leave no trace principals; I was disappointed by all the trash I saw. Second time hiking the whole trail and I’ll be going back for sure, preferably when it dries up some. Lots of wildlife, interesting terrain, and a challenging hike!

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Johnathan Doffing
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 19, 2020
MuddyWashed out

started on east side, trail is 3 feet under water after .4 miles. might want to wait a few days before tryjng

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Pat Plumer
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 19, 2020
HikingRocky

Started on the west end and hiked 3.5 miles out before turning around. Awesome hike! I had read other reviews of losing the trial in a cow pasture and we did the same thing. About 2.5 miles in you come down a slope to an opening where the path follows a creek. The trail crosses the creek but the worn path makes it seem as the trail continues along it. The trail is very generously flagged so if you go 20-30’ without a blue mark, you’re off the trail. Good mix of scenery and ruggedness. Will definitely be going back this summer when I can do the whole thing.

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