Elk River Hiking Trail

MODERATE 84 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Elk River Hiking Trail is a 14.1 mile moderately 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.

DISTANCE
14.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1312 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

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.

backpacking
1 month ago

I set out from the western most trailhead on 7/6/17. The recent floods have eroded overhangs to collapse, left deep, mucky mud along the lower portions along the trail and caused a small landslide 2 miles in, at the waterfall. I was carrying a 60lb pack, set for a couple days on the trail and planned to hike the full 15 miles of it. However, I underestimated the difficulty. There were VERY sleep inclines and descents. I'm in pretty good shape, work out every day and it took me 4 hours to get two miles in, at the waterfall. The trail was compromised by a landslide and someone had created an alternate crossing. So, I took off my pack to scout the best way to proceed. Standing at the edge of a 20 some foot, steep slope into algae covered rock, I was attacked by wasps and instinctively bolted, leaping in bounds down into the ravine. In the process, my left big toenail was torn from the nail bed and I was forced to go back the way I came. It's an absolutely beautiful trail, but be aware, it's physically demanding, I saw fresh mountain lion scat, bear tracks & on hot days, it's dangerous to over exert yourself. Pack light and know that, there is no outside access until you're about 9 miles in, if you want out. That being said, I will most definitely return, once my foot heals, because it's just an incredible area.

hiking
1 month ago

Absolutely love this trail, been hiking it for over 10 years

1 month ago

I've done this trail several times. I think it is the best in Kansas. It is moderately difficult for the first few miles. The last 5 miles don't really have water access so conserve water. Can have a lot of traffic on holidays but not too much on regular days.

backpacking
2 months ago

Had a great day on the trail. Saw several harmless green snakes and awesome views of the area. Trail is well marked and it a great outing. Made five miles in from the east trail head.

camping
2 months ago

Hiked a portion of this trail and camped at about mile 6 from the east trailhead. I was planning to cache some water at mile 9.5 but the trail was flooded on that part.
The first 5 miles is rugged and pretty. it is better to have hiking boots. The temperature was around 82 F which made hiking less pleasant. I think it is better to hike this trail in March and April since it would be cooler and you can find some flowing water for use after filtration (Lake water is not clean enough). Most of the flowing waters were dry. We found just one between mile 4 and 5 that I assume it will be dry in one week.
We saw different animals such as black snakes, armadillos, raccoons, and owls. Only be careful not to step on the snakes. Wearing pants and long sleeve shirt prevents ticks and mosquitos bites.
Road 5200 is a gravel road so it is better to drive on other paths to access trailheads.
Overall, this trail is different from what you expect to see in Kansas and can be a nice experience if you hike in a cool weather.

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Great 9 mile hike today. 4 flooded areas had to go up and around. Do not attempt trail in crappy boots or shoes. About 2 miles of easy hiking the rest was a little more challenging but absolutely beautiful you really forget your in Kansas.

backpacking
2 months ago

great trail for conditioning for longer treks

2 months ago

best trail in Kansad

2 months ago

went with a couple of friends and had a great time! the trail is very well marked and kept with some awesome views. It's reasonably challenging but still very enjoyable. We did 16 miles in a day, approx 8 hours. definitely will be going back!

2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

We tried our hardest to hike the full 15-mile trail but too many portions were flooded. We still got in 10 miles with some off-trail hiking . Beautiful trail. Can't wait to go back and hike the full trail.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

It's easy to forget you're in Kansas when you're on this trail. The rock outcroppings and the forest-floor smell can convince you you're in the Ozarks or the Rockies. I highly recommend this hike.

hiking
3 months ago

backpacking
4 months ago

Stari

hiking
4 months ago

We hiked the whole 15 in about 7 hours, including our hour of stops. The trail is beautiful and is very well marked. The mile markers were great, and we loved the stream crossings. If you don't want to do the whole 15, I would suggest parking off of US 160 and hiking to the lot at 9.6. Or, if you only have one vehicle, hiking in 5 miles that way and then turning back. That was my favorite part of the trail. Happy hiking!

4 months ago

4 months ago

backpacking
4 months ago