Elk River Hiking – YES! This is Kansas! This is the second time this state has surprised me with it’s awesome hiking options! This trail is in Elk City, Kansas and is called Elk River Hiking Trail. From point to point, this trail is 15 miles long, and is crammed pack full of awesome things to see.
I had one of my most favorite humans join me on our adventure today; my youngest of five children, Ben! (He knows he will always be my baby!) A few miles before the trailhead, Ben was mentioning how flat it was going to be. I was fairly confident, from my research, that we were actually in for a treat. Ha! Momma’s right again! 😉
This bridge is right at the beginning of the hike, starting from the dam end. I think when we saw this is when Ben became more optimistic about our adventure. The trail is extensively marked with blue markers, so confidence is solid that getting lost most likely will not happen. Shortly after this small bridge, the climbing began. While I would rather a significant climb not be at the very beginning of a hike, I was relieved to know that I was not guiding Ben into a disappointing hike. Probably 1/8 of a mile in, this happened!
The trail continued to reveal one awesome rock formation after another. There was slot after slot, keeping the curiosity of the dogs at an all time high. It was like playing in a maze. If your dog has a tendency to wander off, this part of the trail is not the place to have them off leash.
If backpacking is your thing, there are several places on this trail to make camp. If you would prefer a bit less primitive camping experience, read here for a great option to enjoy both; this trail and more comfortable camping. The camp grounds in the actual park are fantastic!
It is hard to believe that we actually only traversed 2 miles of the 15 mile trail. With all the different views and terrain we enjoyed, I can only imagine what the rest of the trail looks like. In reading other resources like AllTrails, the trail does smooth out into a more steady pace.
There are 2 main trailheads for this hike. We started from the trailhead that is below the dam. My next attempt at this trail will be from the other end, when Hendrix has had yet more success on his weight loss program. (You can read about Hen’s weight issues here.) I think coming from the other direction will not be as intimidating, and he will be a bit skinnier by then.
Sometimes on adventures you have to go for it, but sometimes you have to be a bit more cautious. While we did try to encourage Hen for a bit, to step down into the narrow part of the trail, the decision was made not to push. If I had kept pushing, and Hendrix got stuck, the trauma would have diminished his trust in my lead. And I definitely did not want to risk him getting hurt. I could have went off trail for a bit, and found my way back onto the trail, but Ben had not come prepared to do so. (Shorts and casual shoes.) I like to look at my adventures that didn’t quite go as far as I had planned, as training and education, to only get better at what we do, and more prepared for bigger and better things. I will look forward to going back and hiking Elk River Hiking Trail in Kansas!