Christopher Edwards scored with Hookers on the Left V3, Broadway Boulder. Elk City Lake, Kansas

Elk City Lake Bouldering Development

Elk City Lake is well known for its beautiful and rugged hiking trails but less for it bouldering development. For years I have overheard folks mention that there is definitely some climbing potential there. The problem with statements like that is the inability to differentiate chossy unclimbable rock from bulletproof rock that can be safely climbed on. Also being able to look at a rock and see its potential comes from being on a lot of real rock. So, the skepticism gets in the way and stops one from just loading up and driving 2 hours to be possibly disappointed. However, it is time to  go check this place out once and for all.

Within an hour of posting an event on my Facebook page about going out and doing some boulder development out there I had another fellow boulderer join up for a day trip to go check this place out. We are both ok with whatever outcome we get, but we need to finally see if there is any bouldering potential here. “It ain’t gonna develop itself”. The word on the street is that there are some walls  that are good for climbing so if we can just find some broken off sections of the bluffs that are of the same quality then maybe we can clean them up and develop some routes and get some first ascents.

I spent a good part of a week searching for documentation on bouldering routes on Mountain Project and Rock and found very little in regards to any development of the area. Aside from so so potential and lots of choss I couldn’t find any mention about the bouldering potential there. It is my expectation that if the area is decent then the quantity of routes will take several return trips to map out the areas, boulders, and routes.

Elk City Lake is located approximately 2 hours southeast of Wichita. It is located just a few miles from Independence, Ks. This first trip will focus on the north shore line and west of the dam. Two access points will be from the top of the dam and the another on county road 5000 which is about 2 miles east of the dam.  This connects with a dirt road that is best driven with a 4X4 and high clearance. This road takes you straight south within a few hundred yards of the shoreline. This access point connects you to the largest congregation of boulders.

After a little research I found that the Elk City Lake is a flood control lake which essentially means that its sole purpose it to hold water and receive water in times of flooding conditions. This means that there the lake levels can and do change from time to time. The significance of this is that the north shore boulders can be underwater at times.

IMPORTANT: When this initial development took place on November 14, 2016 the water level was 796ft. This is a low level and all the boulders were above water and climbable.  It may be worthwhile to check this website to see what the water levels are before heading out. Corp of Engineers


facebook: Myself and Christopher Edwards had a very productive day yesterday at Elk City State Park (KDWP&T). On our first day of route exploration we cleaned, established, and got first ascents on a variety of bouldering routes. Total number ended up at 17 routes. I am imagining that there are at least 3 other “areas” that has potential for development and our hopes are that we can complete this project over the next month or two. A full write up is underway on this first area and will be submitted to Mountain Project when finished…..the limestone ranged from choss to bulletproof. We were very mindful of developing on the best rock and when needed we did extensive cleaning. I am working on mapping and hope to have that available as well…more information to come over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned!!!


Google map clearly shows county road 5000 and the south turnoff.

Map of Elk City Lake, North Shore boulders

North Shore Bouldering Area:

Click Here for Mountain Project info on the area!!!!

Access information: As you approach the Elk City Lake from the north and before you cross the dam you will turn West on county road 5000. You will then travel approximately 2 miles. Turn left onto a dirt road and take it south for 1 mile. At .5 mile you will hit very rough rocky road and a low clearance vehicle will not make it through. Park here and walk the final .5 mile or if you have a 4wd vehicle you can make it to the end where there is a primitive campsite area. Park here and walk straight south for 275 feet until you hit the hiking trail. If you continue past the trail it will take you directly to the Big Mac boulder. From there you can follow the shorline to the west for the remaining boulders. It is 250 feet to the Broadway boulder. Then another 50 feet to the Fracker of the Choss.  From the Fracker of the Choss it is 50 feet to the My Orca Boulder. (see map above) Another option is to get on the trail and walk west for 50-200 feet until you find a reasonable place to cut through and go down to the shore from there. See map for distances. Another option might be to simply take the road on down and see if it empties onto the shore and follow it around..We did not go that route so I can’t give any more details than that…It is possible that going east on the trail would also take you to the shore more easily. In the fall and winter navigating through the brush is probably much easier and safer in regards to ticks and critters, etc.


My Orca Boulder


My Orca Boulder

My Orca:

  1. Up the Crack  V1: FA Jason Kruse
  2. On the Hip V2: FA Christopher Edwards
  3. Left that Crack alone V2: FA Jason Kruse
  4. Seams OK V3: FA Jason Kruse
  5. Below the Belt V4+: FA Jason Kruse
  6. Above the Belt V2: FA Christopher Edwards
  7. Sun of a Beach V4+: FA Jason Kruse
  8. The Cracken V5: FA Jason Kruse
  9. Crack to the Future V5: FA Christopher Edwards

Fracker of the Choss Boulder

Fracker of the Choss:

  1. What the Elk? V3: FA Jason Kruse
  2. Got Driftwood V2: FA Jason Kruse
  3. Fracker’s Traverse V3: FA Jason Kruse
  4. Popped My Cherry V1: FA Christopher Edwards
  5. Back Burner V1: FA Christopher Edwards

Broadway Boulder

Broadway Boulder:

  1. Hookers to the Left V3: FA Jason Kruse
  2. Hookers to the Right V3:  FA Christopher Edwards
Big Mac Boulder, Elk City Lake, Ks

Big Mac Boulder, Elk City Lake, Ks

Big Mac Boulder:

  1. Better with Jam v3: FA Jason Kruse
  2. Toe Jam V4: FA Jason Kruse

Continued development of the Elk City Lake boulders will continue through out the next several months and I will update this page. Links can be found on website. Follow along on facebook and instagram for more detail and images. @kansasadventureathlete