Elk River Hiking Trail In Kansas

Here is everything you need to know about the Elk River Hiking Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Kansas
  • Length: 15 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Elk River Hiking Trail Association
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Info not available.

The Elk River Hiking Trail, located in the beautiful Elk River Valley of West Virginia, holds a rich historical significance that dates back centuries. The trail follows the path once used by Native American tribes, who relied on the Elk River for sustenance and transportation. These tribes, including the Shawnee and Cherokee, recognized the abundance of wildlife and natural resources in the area, making it an ideal location for settlement and trade.

During the 18th century, European settlers began to explore and settle in the Elk River Valley. The trail played a crucial role in connecting these early settlements, serving as a lifeline for trade and communication. Settlers used the trail to transport goods, such as furs, timber, and agricultural products, to nearby towns and markets. The Elk River Hiking Trail became an essential link in the region’s economic development, facilitating the growth of communities along its path.

In the mid-19th century, the Elk River Valley experienced a boom in the coal mining industry. The trail became a vital transportation route for coal companies, enabling them to transport coal from the mines to the nearby Elk River, where it could be loaded onto barges and shipped downstream. This period of industrialization brought significant changes to the landscape, as mining operations expanded and infrastructure, such as railroads, were built alongside the trail.

Today, the Elk River Hiking Trail stands as a testament to the region’s rich history. Hikers can explore remnants of old settlements, abandoned mining sites, and other historical landmarks along the trail. The trail not only offers a scenic and immersive outdoor experience but also provides an opportunity to connect with the past and appreciate the historical significance of the Elk River Valley.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Elk River Trailhead: This is the main access point for the Elk River Hiking Trail, located at the southern end of the trail near the town of Elk River, Idaho.

2. Elk Creek Trailhead: Located about 5 miles north of Elk River, this trailhead provides access to the Elk River Hiking Trail from the north.

3. Elk River Campground: Situated along the Elk River, this campground serves as a popular starting point for hikers on the Elk River Hiking Trail.

4. Elk River Falls Trailhead: This trailhead is located near Elk River Falls, offering a scenic starting point for hikers looking to explore the Elk River Hiking Trail.

5. Elk River Recreation Area: This recreational area provides multiple access points to the Elk River Hiking Trail, including the Elk River Trailhead and various parking areas along the trail.

6. Elk River Road Trailhead: Located along Elk River Road, this trailhead offers convenient access to the Elk River Hiking Trail for hikers driving along the road.

7. Elk River Bridge Trailhead: Situated near the Elk River Bridge, this trailhead provides access to the Elk River Hiking Trail for hikers looking to explore the area around the bridge.

8. Elk River Lodge Trailhead: This trailhead is located near the Elk River Lodge, offering hikers staying at the lodge easy access to the Elk River Hiking Trail.

9. Elk River Recreation Site: This recreation site provides access to the Elk River Hiking Trail, with parking and facilities available for hikers.

10. Elk River Road Parking Area: Located along Elk River Road, this parking area serves as a convenient access point for hikers on the Elk River Hiking Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Elk River Shuttle – Provides shuttle services to and from various trailheads along the Elk River Hiking Trail.
2. Local Taxi Service – Offers convenient transportation options for hikers needing a ride to or from the Elk River Hiking Trail.
3. Ride-Sharing Service – Connects hikers with local drivers for transportation to and from the Elk River Hiking Trail.
4. Public Bus – Operates regular bus routes that pass near the Elk River Hiking Trail, providing an affordable transportation option.
5. Bike Rental Shop – Offers bike rentals for hikers looking to explore the Elk River Hiking Trail on two wheels.


The amenities available at the Elk River Hiking Trail may vary depending on the specific location or trailhead. However, here are some common amenities that you may find along the trail:

1. Restrooms: Some trailheads or designated areas along the trail may have restroom facilities available for hikers.

2. Parking: There are usually parking lots or designated parking areas near the trailheads where hikers can park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: The Elk River Hiking Trail may offer designated camping sites or backcountry camping options for hikers who wish to spend the night along the trail. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and tent pads.

4. Picnic Areas: Along the trail, there may be designated picnic areas where hikers can take a break, enjoy a meal, or have a picnic. These areas may have picnic tables, benches, or shelters.

5. Water Sources: Depending on the trail section, there may be natural water sources such as rivers, streams, or lakes where hikers can access water for drinking or filtering.

6. Trail Markers and Signage: The trail may have markers or signage to guide hikers and provide information about the trail, distances, and points of interest.

7. Information Boards: Some trailheads or key points along the trail may have information boards or kiosks that provide maps, trail information, safety guidelines, and other relevant information.

8. Scenic Overlooks: The Elk River Hiking Trail may offer scenic overlooks or viewpoints where hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

It is recommended to check with local authorities, visitor centers, or trail organizations for specific information about the amenities available at the Elk River Hiking Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Elk River Lodge – Cozy lodging option near the trailhead.
2. Riverside Campground – Campsites along the Elk River.
3. Mountain View Inn – Lodging with scenic mountain views.
4. Trailside Cafe – Casual eatery offering meals and snacks.
5. River’s Edge Restaurant – Riverside dining with a diverse menu.
6. Elk River General Store – Convenient store for supplies and snacks.
7. Elk River Medical Center – Emergency medical services in the area.

Elk River Hiking Trail Difficulty Notes

The Elk River Hiking Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail spans approximately 15 miles and features diverse terrain, including rocky sections, steep inclines, and occasional stream crossings. While some parts may require a bit of scrambling and careful footing, the trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. Hikers can expect to encounter breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lush forests, and the picturesque Elk River. Overall, the Elk River Hiking Trail provides a satisfying challenge without being overly strenuous, making it a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a rewarding adventure.

Features And Attractions

1. Elk River Falls: A stunning 50-foot waterfall located near the trailhead, offering a picturesque view and a great spot for swimming.
2. Elk Knob State Park: A beautiful state park with a summit trail that provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
3. Elk River Backcountry: A remote and pristine wilderness area with rugged terrain, old-growth forests, and abundant wildlife.
4. Elk River Gorge: A deep and narrow gorge carved by the Elk River, offering breathtaking views and opportunities for rock climbing and rappelling.
5. Elk River Wildlife Management Area: A vast area of protected land with diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, meadows, and forests, providing habitat for a variety of wildlife species.
6. Historic Elk River Road: A scenic drive that follows the Elk River, passing through charming small towns, historic sites, and picturesque countryside.
7. Elk River Trailhead: The starting point of the Elk River Hiking Trail, offering a beautiful view of the river and surrounding mountains.
8. Elk River Valley: A picturesque valley with rolling hills, farmland, and quaint rural communities, providing a peaceful and scenic backdrop for the hiking trail.
9. Elk River Marsh: A wetland area along the trail, home to a variety of bird species and other wildlife, offering excellent birdwatching opportunities.
10. Elk River Overlook: A designated viewpoint along the trail that provides a stunning panoramic view of the Elk River and the surrounding landscape.

Usage Guidelines

1. Pets are allowed on the Elk River Hiking Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
2. Camping is not permitted along the trail.
3. Open fires are strictly prohibited.
4. Hiking is allowed year-round, but certain sections of the trail may be closed during the winter months due to hazardous conditions.
5. Leave no trace: Visitors are expected to pack out all trash and leave the trail and surrounding areas clean.
6. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the hiking trail.
7. Hunting or fishing is not permitted along the trail.
8. Respect wildlife and do not disturb or feed any animals encountered on the trail.
9. Stay on designated trails and do not venture off into restricted areas.
10. Overnight stays or extended camping require a permit from the appropriate authorities.

Seasonal Information

The Elk River Hiking Trail, located in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, offers a stunning outdoor experience for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are considered the best for visiting, as well as some seasonal closures to be aware of.

One of the best times to visit the Elk River Hiking Trail is during the spring season, particularly in April and May. During this time, the trail is adorned with vibrant wildflowers, and the surrounding forests come alive with lush greenery. The weather is generally pleasant, with mild temperatures and occasional rainfall, making it an ideal time for hiking and exploring the trail’s scenic beauty.

Another great time to visit is in the fall, specifically during the months of September and October. The foliage along the trail transforms into a breathtaking display of autumn colors, creating a picturesque backdrop for hikers. The temperatures are cooler, making it comfortable for long hikes, and the trail is less crowded compared to the peak summer season.

It’s important to note that the Elk River Hiking Trail has some seasonal closures. During the winter months, typically from December to February, certain sections of the trail may be closed due to inclement weather and hazardous conditions. Snow and ice can make the trail slippery and dangerous, so it’s best to check with local authorities or park rangers for any closures or advisories before planning a winter visit.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Elk River Hiking Trail are during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is pleasant, and the natural surroundings are at their most vibrant. However, it’s crucial to be aware of any seasonal closures, particularly during the winter months, to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trailhead with sufficient space for wheelchair users to easily enter and exit their vehicles.
2. Accessible Trailhead: A level and paved area at the beginning of the trail, allowing wheelchair users to easily access the trail.
3. Wide and Paved Pathways: The trail features wide and smooth pathways, suitable for wheelchair users to navigate comfortably.
4. Rest Areas with Benches: Regularly spaced benches along the trail provide resting spots for wheelchair users to take breaks and enjoy the surroundings.
5. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair accessible restrooms are available near the trailhead or along the trail.
6. Signage with Braille: Trail signs and information boards include Braille translations for visually impaired individuals.
7. Handrails and Guardrails: Where necessary, the trail is equipped with handrails and guardrails to assist wheelchair users in navigating steeper or uneven sections.
8. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail are designed to accommodate wheelchair users, with accessible tables and seating.
9. Audio Guides: Audio guides or smartphone apps are available to provide audio descriptions and information about the trail for visually impaired individuals.
10. Trail Maps and Information in Large Print: Trail maps and informational brochures are available in large print format for individuals with low vision.

Safety Information

When visiting the Elk River Hiking Trail, it is important to keep the following safety information in mind:

1. Plan and prepare: Before embarking on the hike, research the trail, its difficulty level, and weather conditions. Carry a map, compass, or GPS device, and inform someone about your hiking plans.

2. Dress appropriately: Wear sturdy, comfortable footwear suitable for hiking. Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

3. Stay hydrated: Carry an adequate amount of water and drink regularly to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather or strenuous hikes. Avoid drinking water from natural sources unless it has been properly treated.

4. Wildlife encounters: The Elk River Hiking Trail is home to various wildlife species. Respect their habitat and keep a safe distance. Do not approach or feed wild animals, as it can be dangerous for both you and the animals.

5. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay alert and watch for potential hazards such as uneven terrain, slippery rocks, or fallen branches. Keep an eye out for poison ivy, snakes, or other potential dangers.

6. Leave no trace: Practice responsible hiking by leaving the trail as you found it. Carry out all trash and dispose of it properly. Minimize your impact on the environment by staying on designated trails and avoiding fragile vegetation.

7. Be prepared for emergencies: Carry a first aid kit with essential supplies and know how to use it. Familiarize yourself with basic first aid techniques. In case of an emergency, call for help immediately and provide accurate information about your location.

8. Hike with a buddy: It is always safer to hike with a companion. If hiking alone, inform someone about your plans and expected return time. Stay on the designated trail and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

9. Weather conditions: Be aware of changing weather conditions and check the forecast before heading out. Thunderstorms can be dangerous, especially in exposed areas. Seek shelter if lightning is present.

10. Respect trail rules and regulations: Follow all posted signs, rules, and regulations. Some trails may have specific restrictions, such as no camping or no pets. Adhering to these guidelines ensures the safety and preservation of the trail for future visitors.

Remember, safety should always be a priority when hiking. By being prepared, aware of your surroundings, and respecting the trail and its inhabitants, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience on the Elk River Hiking Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Elk River Hiking Trail is considered to have a favorable conservation status due to the efforts put forth in preserving its natural environment. The trail is located within a protected area, ensuring that the surrounding ecosystem remains undisturbed. This conservation status is crucial in maintaining the biodiversity of the region, as it provides a safe haven for various plant and animal species.

The trail is carefully managed to minimize human impact and preserve the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Conservation measures include strict regulations on waste management, ensuring that hikers leave no trace behind. Additionally, designated camping areas and fire pits are provided to prevent damage to the surrounding vegetation and minimize the risk of wildfires.

Efforts are also made to protect the wildlife along the trail. Hikers are encouraged to observe animals from a distance and avoid disturbing their natural behavior. The trail is designed to avoid sensitive habitats and critical wildlife corridors, reducing the potential for disruption to their natural movements.

Conservation organizations and local authorities work together to monitor the trail and its surrounding areas, ensuring that any potential threats to the ecosystem are promptly addressed. Regular assessments are conducted to evaluate the impact of human activity on the trail and to implement necessary measures for its long-term conservation.

Overall, the Elk River Hiking Trail benefits from a favorable conservation status, which is crucial in preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the area. The efforts put forth in managing and protecting this trail ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy its pristine environment while minimizing their impact on the delicate ecosystem.

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