Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Need to Know
For those looking to experience the beauty of this trail without its 28 mile out-and back distance, it's recommended that you start from the eastern end (near the fish and wildlife office), and run west to a good turnaround spot.
If you're looking to tackle the entire thing, it's recommended that you leave a shuttle vehicle at the opposite end, or bring backpacking gear and camp at the Elk City State Park on the eastern end of the trail.
Often noted as one of the best trails in Kansas, this lakeside trail treats its visitors to gorgeous views of the water while meandering through large stands of hardwood. Coming in at over 14 miles one way, it's certainly not a short trail, but the distance is far outweighed by the reward. You may lean over to your running partner and say "George, we're not in Kansas anymore!", but trust me, you still are.
Starting at the western end in a parking lot off US 160, the trail immediately dives into the forest, meandering through a veil of broad deciduous trees. While this thin strip of forest is sandwiched between a river and numerous plots of agricultural land, you're sure to forget about your pastoral surroundings as you pick up the river and follow its pleasant, calming water. The trail zig-zags along the river for roughly ten miles before you reach the lakeshore of Elk City Lake. Continuing along the lakeshore for another 4 miles give or take, be sure to take opportunities to stop and soak in your surroundings. Be sure to have your smartphone camera at the ready to snap pictures of the waterfowl that occasionally can be found bobbing on the water's surface.
Flora & Fauna
In the autumn this area sets ablaze in a flash of fiery fall color. As you meander along the river, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife including a nice collection of birds and occasionally deer.
Shared By: Hunter R