Southeast of Wichita and northeast of Independence in the Elk City State Park, the 15 mile Elk River Trail is a nice ridge walk in the foothills of the Ozarks. It coils around the north shore of 13,000-acre Elk City Lake and up and down giant limestone boulders. Steep climbs to lakeside panoramas alternate with twisty rambles through thick woods of eastern red cedar, buckthorn, and shagbark hickory. A high bluff with rocky outcrops runs the length of the trail.
To reach the hiking trailhead from Independence, take US 160 west about six miles to CR 3325 and go west less than a mile to CR 4600. Follow the signs to the Elk City Lake dam.. The trailhead parking lot is just past the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office on the left.
Overall, Elk River National Recreation Trail is the 1st most popular hiking trail of all 8 hikes in Kansas.