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Flint Hills Waterfalls

posted Oct 16, 2018, 4:26 PM by Justin P   [ updated Nov 5, 2018, 4:38 PM ]
Monday, we left Emporia and headed south for more Kansas waterfalls in the southern Flint Hills area.  Our first stop was Elk Falls in the aptly named town of Elk Falls.  We first went to the north side of the bridge following Google Maps, but the road was closed so went around to the south side of the bridge at the end of Montgomery Street and parked.

An old Iron Truss Bridge, closed to vehicular traffic, leads across the river and the waterfall was visible just upstream.  Wow, what a difference from yesterday.

This waterfall was really raging.  Crossing the bridge, we scrambled down to the river.  The water was too high to climb around much, so after a couple pictures, we went back up.

Another path led down from the other side and there was a guy fishing with his dog here.

Continuing south, our next stop was at the New Sedan City Lake.  We parked at the end of the dam and picked up the hiking trail that led to the Old lake.  It was about 2 miles and the trail was very wet and swampy.  At the first tributary that entered the lake, there was a footbridge to cross.  It was an interesting arch bridge, but it was rather steep and the wood was very slippery with no footholds, so it took a couple times with a running start to get up and over.  A half-mile or so later, there was another of these bridges over a tributary, but this one wasn't as steep so easier to cross.  After this point, the trail followed Deer Creek upstream between the two lakes and there was a lot of water, so I figured the waterfall should be good.  And it was.  Soon, we reached Chautauqua Falls at the spillway from the Old City Lake.  With the really high flow, it was raging.

I first scrambled down to the creek, but there was a lot of vegetation in the way and couldn't get a good view, but I was able to see the lower drop from here.  And it was too steep and too much water to climb higher along the creek.  So I went back up and climbed out on to some rock ledges to get a nice view of the waterfall.

There were three distinct streams flowing down.

Each would have been impressive by itself but all together, it was spectacular.

I think this was my favorite one in Kansas.  There may have been a better view from the other side, but the water was too high and I think it's private property over there.  After some pictures, we started making our way back.  Near the parking, I went out on the wooden pier for a view of New City Lake.

Then it was time to continue on. Our next stop was at Butcher Falls.  This one is on private property at Red Buffalo Ranch, but the landowner is nice enough to allow public access.  We parked along Road 14 and made the short walk to the falls.

The sun was starting to pop out, but there were enough clouds for a picture.  I climbed around on the rocks to get to a closer viewpoint.

There were some prickly pears growing in the rocks here.

After some pictures, it was time to go.  We then headed into Sedan and parked at Hollow Park.  A boardwalk led to Hollow Falls.

It's a small waterfall, but in a scenic little park.  The park itself was worth the stop - really cute little park with a one-room schoolhouse and gazebo.

The gardens here were beautiful.

Lots of shade loving plants and we even saw a monarch butterfly.

At one time, this was a garbage dump; hard to believe looking at it now.

Hollow Falls was our last waterfall for the day, but we wanted to get in one more hike.  Heading east to Elk City Lake and parking at the east trailhead for Elk River Trail, we were going to hike along this trail.  With lots of rock scrambling, it's one of the best trails in Kansas.  But right near the start, a footbridge had washed out over Gordon Creek and there was too much water to wade.  So we headed to the Memorial Overlook back across the dam.  There was a nice view of Elk City Lake from the overlook.

And this is the trailhead for Table Mound Trail, the next best option after Elk River Trail.  The trail started from the end of the parking area and led along the top of some rock outcrops.  Popping out from the trail, there was a nice view of the countryside from way up high.

Shortly, there was a hairpin turn as it descends through a crevasse in the rocks and we had to scramble down through.  We definitely got in our rock scrambling on Table Mound Trail.

Once down, we continued below the rock overhangs and there were lots of boulders, crevasses and small caves down here.

This section to the road crossing was a lot of fun and very scenic.  Once across the road, it became more of a typical trail in the woods.  Although the trail followed the lake shore, it was a good ways from the lake and we couldn't see much.  After a mile or so, we decided to turn back and try and bushwhack out for some views of the lake.  The first spot went to a rocky overlook and I climbed down to lake level for a couple pictures.

We had a snack down here and then headed back up to the trail.  There was a huge spider on the trail near here.

Then we went out to the lake again near the road to a beach area.

It was quite hot and humid so we didn't stay out in the sun for too long.  Back on the trail, we headed back through rocky part of the trail - definitely my favorite part of the hike.  A marbled orb weaver hiding in the rocks.

There sure were a lot spiders out for October.  Soon we made it back up to the top and then back to the overlook parking.  From here, we drove to Independence and checked in to Appletree Inn.  El Pueblitos was just up the road, so we had Mexican for dinner then went back to the hotel.  There was a waterfall at the pool so of course we had to go for a swim.

Then we retired for the evening.