Backpacker Magazine Topeka: Horsethief Canyon 

This 4.4-miler mixes prairie with rolling wooded hills, scenic bluffs, and sandstone hoodoos in Kanopolis State Park, the first state park in Kansas.

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Author: Backpacker Magazine
Date: 6 Jun 2006 11:42:21 PM
Activity: Hiking
State: Kansas (KS)
Distance: 4.4 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 202 ft
Total Loss: 204 ft
Net Change: -3 ft
Difficulty: 5 / 10
Tags: Ellsworth, Kansas, Topeka
Rating:   6 rating(s) Rate it

-Mapped by Jon Conard

TO TRAILHEAD: I-70 W 109 mi. to Salina; S on I-135 2.2 mi. and R onto KS 140 W 20.4 mi. to KS 141; S on 141 10 mi., take R on Pheasant Ridge Rd. and R on Horsethief Rd. N to trailhead.

Position Format: Datum:


Distance: 4.40 mi Points: 94
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Horsethief Canyon Track

Points of Interest


Location: 38.677235, -97.993369
©Jon Conard

Howling On Rock

Location: 38.674751, -98.002281
©Jon Conard

High Water Crossing

Location: 38.675842, -98.003891
©Jon Conard

Rock Outcropping

Location: 38.675941, -98.002754
©Jon Conard

View of Kanopolis Lake

Location: 38.679630, -98.001244
©Jon Conard

Gate At Trail Junction

Location: 38.678408, -98.010943
©Jon Conard

Red Rocks

Location: 38.681877, -98.006149
©Jon Conard

Sandstone Bluffs

Location: 38.679362, -98.005493
©Jon Conard


Location: 38.671958, -97.999485
Head NNE on the Buffalo Tracks Canyon Trail


Location: 38.677235, -97.993627
Look behind scraggy bushes for a small cave carved into the sandstone bluffs; swing W and wrap around bluff point into the adjacent canyon


Location: 38.681221, -98.000122
Stream crossing; at sundown, coyote yelps echo inside the canyon


Location: 38.679630, -98.001544
Vantage between canyons offers almost clear views to Kanopolis Lake


Location: 38.681839, -98.006248
These 12-foot-tall sandstone hoodoos belong in southern Utah, not central Kansas


Location: 38.678374, -98.011158
Swing L, heading S on Horsethief Trail


Location: 38.675941, -98.003128
Keep straight @ T near large rock formations


Location: 38.675251, -98.001640
Use huge, sturdy beaver dam to cross swollen creek with deep pools


Location: 38.675800, -98.000549
Continue E @ junction


Location: 38.675752, -97.999367
When the water level is more than shin-high, it's best to leave trail briefly here and head SE to cross stream on second beaver dam. Then swing back upstream to rejoin the main, well-marked trail.


Location: 38.675560, -97.998810
Carefully cross log-jammed stream again; turn R and head S to trailhead


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