LJWorld.com weblogs Linda's Backroad Musings

Kansas Waterfall Roadtrips


What is it about a waterfall. Is it the sound? Feel of mist or reflection of light as it cascades down?All together, waterfalls bring a joyous feel to nature.What if I said there are natural waterfalls just a few hours drive from Lawrence? There are--in Kansas. Come with me to my favorite.Pillsbury Crossing near Manhattan is 59 acres billed as one of the most scenic areas in the Northern Flint Hills region. We agree. Managed by Kansas Wildlife and Parks, it provides free access to a natural crossing of Deep Creek. In normal conditions, water flows gently over a natural flat limestone crossing then over a beautiful horseshoe like waterfall. The day we were there, the water was flowing over the falls nicely but still low enough families were wading about the crossing.Quoting from the Kansas Flint Hills Tourism web site: "During normal stream flow, you may canoe, kayak, or take a small row boat upstream as far as 1/2 mile. There are some areas suitable for primitive camping by special permit only. Birdwatching is popular, and there is a small hiking trail provided in cooperation with a local conservation club in Manhattan. Fishing is also popular at Pillsbury Crossing, where the fish include channel cat, spotted bass, largemouth bass, bullhead catfish, and carp."Pillsbury Crossing is a short 10 minutes drive north of I70 on Exit 313 (GPS: 39.12888 -96.44050). While in the area, visit the self-guided Konza Prairie Hiking trail . A 2.5 mile loop is perfect for the young members of the family and a full 6 mile loop for the full Flint Hills experience.Other Kansas waterfalls we plan to visit include Butcher Falls in Chautauqua county. The one mile stretch of Pool Creek has been determined by American Whitewater to be a class III section. It is located on the Bill Kurtis Red Buffalo Ranch near Sedan Kansas.The town of Elk Falls bills itself as the largest living ghost town. The town's namesake waterfall is located on the nearby Elk River is in the Ozark Region of extreme southeast Kansas.Alcove Springs was a stop on the Oregon Trail as it passed through Marshall County six miles northwest of Blue Rapids. The Alcove Spring Preservation Association in Blue Rapids, Kansas, maintains the short ½ mile hike to the actual falls where travelers waited for the Big Blue River to go down. This is a significant historical site as immigrant names carved into rocks are still clearly visible. It also has the distinction of being the burial place of a member of the doomed Donner-Reed party of 1846.Chase Lake Falls in Chase county on Prather Creek is on the Flint Hills Scenic Byway While there, we plan to visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve with its showcase limestone mansion and Cottonwood Falls, site of the Chase County Courthouse.Kansas waterfalls might not be as high or plentiful as those found in other parts of the country but, they are historic, beautiful in their own right and you can't beat the amount of gas to find them.FRIDAY NOTE: Below is a beautiful Kansas waterfall located on private land sent by an anonymous reader. He indicates it is not too far from Lawrence. Any other private falls out there?Note: Check Kansas University's Kansas Geological Survey Kansas Photo Display page. Scroll down to waterfalls and see pictures of those mentioned above and others of interest. Thank you to anonymous commenter Max1


jystevens 10 years ago

Linda:Another wonderful post! Thank you for sharing information about your adventures. My family and I will now have several day trips to take this summer.

Jerry Elliott 10 years ago

wow. i had not heard of these. you have given me a roadmap for several day trips. thanks so much.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years ago

waterfalls are just cool, pretty, powerful, and serene whats not to like.

Ronda Miller 10 years ago

Wonderful post, Linda. I would not have thought we had a choice of waterfalls in good ole Kansas to visit. I am not familar with these sites having come from extreme NWestern Kansas, but the one in the Manhattan area would be a "cool" break for when I am making the long drive to Bird City or St. Francis - next scheduled trip over Memorial Day.Thanks for the informative blog and serene photos to enjoy on such a cold Sat. morning.

Kathy Theis-Getto 10 years ago

There is a pretty sizable fall near Ark City, I believe, and a tiny one in Valley Falls. Kansas is beautiful!

RedwoodCoast 10 years ago

Thanks for the link, max1. That bison jump I was referring to was actually at Burntwood Creek, which is on page 50 of that site. There is a man in one of the photos wearing cut-off jean shorts and facing away from the camera. This appears to be the late Jack Russell, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack in March. He would have completed his master's thesis on the site in May. His colleagues are trying to get his work together and publish it posthumously. Jack certainly deserves it.

RedwoodCoast 10 years ago

Ronda: I was doing archaeology just south of Bird City a few years back. That's an interesting part of Kansas.One of the most spectacular prehistoric bison jumps I've seen is located up there. I guess prehistoric bison hunters couldn't find a waterfall, so they made a bison-fall. OK, that's a really bad joke.

born_to_run 10 years ago

I've visited the Pillsbury Creek waterfall area. (I was in college, and at the time we'd hang out there on summer days). I'd also go park out there for a run on the roads near by. I just love waterfalls. They really give you a sense of peace when you are around them.

Ronda Miller 10 years ago

Thanks to all of you for the additional information, especially the link. max1. I'm sure Linda appreciates them also! Linda, hi, are you there? :)

Ronda Miller 10 years ago

redwoodcoast, I missed your earliest post, sorry about that. Yeah, it was a bad joke! :D, but I laughed.I love that area - so many cool things out and about. We spent a lot of time out doors growing up and found interesting arrow heads, etc. I can hardly wait to visit the breaks late May. Have you gone to them? We did have a great creek on the farm where I grew up and when we had some good soaking rains we had a waterfall over an extended flat rock area. Rarely there was enough water to swim in, usually after a heavy winter's snow melt, but then it was icy cold. Ahhh, memories!

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