Elk River Trail Backpacking Adventure

Located in Crane, Kansas, the Elk River Trail is rated the #1 backpacking trail in Kansas by Backpacker Magazine. The 15-mile trail offers panoramic views of Elk City Lake from the tops of limestone bluffs and winds through narrow canyons and rock overhangs. You truly get a little bit of everything along this trail- sun, shade, wildlife, flowers, bluffs, interesting rock formations and shockingly, even some elevation change! That being said, it’s not an easy hike- it’s rugged, rocky terrain requires scrambling up steep slopes, making it a challenging hike.

Fifteen Dirty Girls set out to conquer 10 miles of this trail but finished with so much more than a completed hike. This was a unique group- hardly any of the women had ever been backpacking before. Each and every one of them had their own fears at the trailhead but walked out of the woods with huge feelings of success after the hard challenge. There is something about backpacking that really makes you get to know yourself. When you hike your own hike, you learn to conquer fears by connecting with yourself and nature.

Gathering at the trail head.

The most magical part of this adventure was Sunday morning. Everyone woke up, cooked a camp breakfast and packed their gear. Before stepping onto the trail, the group gathered in a circle and mentioned what they’d took away from the adventure up to that point. During this time sharing thoughts, everyone had moments of cheers, laughs and tears when they realized the connections they’d made with themselves and others with just one day immersed in nature on the trail.

Feeling empowered and stronger after sharing their hearts, the group set out for the way back. A few miles in at a rock ledge overlooking the lake, the ladies took some power pictures.

We will be going on more backpacking and hiking adventures in the near future. If you think you might want to join us, we asked all the ladies what their favorite piece of gear and snack was on this trip. See below and get ideas for gear and snacks for your next adventure, with us or on your own!

Disclaimer: Throughout this blog, you’ll notice that some links go to our online Compass Point shop, and some go to Amazon. While we work on getting more items in our shop, we’ve set up an Amazon Affiliate account so you can still support us, as we receive a small commission from any purchases via those Amazon links. Thank you for supporting our small business- we are excited to equip you with the knowledge and gear you need to have memorable and safe adventures in the great outdoors.

Mary Putney: Gear: Osprey Backpack

Snack/food: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Power Berries

Denise Cook: Gear: Osprey Backpack

Snack/food: Kodiak Cakes Oatmeal Power Cups

Michelle Terry: Gear: MSR Pocket Rocket Stove

Snack/food: Mountain House Chicken & Dumplings

Emily Sharp: Gear: Sleeping pad

Snack/food: beef jerkey

Catherine King: Gear: REI Backpack

Snack/food:Trader Joes Dried Mango

Lorraine Leicht-Gillgannon (Official Dirty Girl Guide): Gear: Big Agnes Tent

Snack/food: Bean and Cheese burrito

This is Gerry, a new honorary Dirty Girl member. She was found by Lorraine and joins in on adventures, often sneaking whiskey into backpacks.

Teresa Cotton: Gear: Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad

Snack/food: Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Cassie Douglas: Gear: Salomon hiking tennis shoes and Injinji Toe Socks (available in-store at Compass Point)

Snack/food: Sahale Nut Blends

Dereka Pederson: Gear: Esbit Ultralight Pocket Stove

Snack/food: Werther’s Hard Candies

Robin Dixon: Gear: Lantern light


Dorothy Kurtz: Gear: LEKI Trekking Poles

Snack/food: Sweet potato smothered with baked beans and cornbread muffin

Amy Schmutzler: Gear: Yodo Tent

Snack/food: Moon Cheese

Cheryl Coon: Gear: Sleepingo Sleeping Pad

Snack/food: homemade trail mix…..Cheryl’s recipe was a hit on the trail, so she shared her recipe with us!


Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, banana chips, cranberries, tropical fruit medley, wasabi peas, black sesame rice crackers

Optional add-ins: dried cherries or blueberries, yogurt covered pretzels, Snyder’s mustard snack mix or butterscotch chips

Ali Ragan: Gear: MSR Pocket Rocket Stove

Snack/food: Mountain House Pasta Primavera

Denise Selbee-Koch: Gear: KT Tape

Snack/food: Apples and Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter Squeeze Packs

Post-hike celebratory beers and snacks!

“We shared our hearts, our thought and our lives while we backpacked together.

The solitary hike: step after step, feeling and growing as individual humans.

The connected hike: learning we are stronger together, similar yet different, supportive and accepting of each other as we are when we are a vulnerable tribe bound together.”

– Denise Selbee-Koch, Original Dirty Girl

Ali Ragan
Ali Ragan

Dirty Girl Adventures
Communications and Social Media Manager

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