Kanopolis State Park
Horsethief Canyon Trails

Kanopolis Reservoir

Long views of sandstone bluffs, deep canyons cutting through beautiful grasslands, and a sparkling lake tucked in the heart of it all.

The Horsethief Canyon area of Kanopolis State Park is a pleasure to explore - the trails cross the grasslands and dip into the canyons. Side trails explore caves and the small streams that have cut the canyons.
My son and I have only hiked this area once, and both of us have a strong desire to go back and explore it again.

From the junction of KS Hwy 156 and KS Hwy 140 east of Ellsworth Kansas, head east along KS 140 13.3 miles to the KS 141.
Take a right onto KS 141 and head south 8.2 miles to the entrance to Kanopolis State Park via Venango Rd.
Follow Venango Rd. and then Horsethief Rd 3.3 miles to the dirt Horsethief Canyon Trail parking lot on your right.
Shortly after you enter the park you will pass near an entrance station where you will need to pay a fee.
Coordinates for the hike: 38.6681300,-97.9983900
Parking / Trailhead amenities
The dirt parking lot is large and level. There is a pit toilet and mapboard adjacent to the parking lot, as well as picnic facilities and access to the reservoir.
Trail observations
The trail exits the parking lot between the toilet and the mapboard. The trail surface is occasionally muddy and in some places quite slippery.
Trail statistics
The trail is 2.66 miles long. The sum of all the uphill climbs is 115 feet.
Trail waypoints
0.14 miTrailhead Take the trail between the toilet and the mapboard
0.22 miGo leftHead left along the stream towards the cave
0.51 miHead leftHead left at the arrow signpost with the blue ribbon "Horsethief Trail"
0.54 miStay leftBranch - stay left at trail closed signpost
0.65 miSignSign says "Two miles to cave"
0.72 miParking lotParking lot and picnic area
0.73 miFollow purpleFollowing the purple trail which is a people only trail.
1.03 miCrumbly cliffCrumbly cliff area
1.07 miMuckyVery mucky here. There is no great way to cross.
1.36 miSide trailGo right to the cave at 12, then return
1.38 miCaveReturn to the junction and head up the bluff to 11
1.44 miStreamFord stream
1.49 miClimbingClimbing up the bluff
1.53 miSharp rightAt top of the bluff take a sharp right and follow the lip of the canyon
1.88 miOn the edgeFollowing the edge of the canyon
1.96 miSign
2.01 miSign
2.09 miSign
2.09 miSign
2.26 miGo rightLeaving orange trail right onto green connector trail
2.26 miRetraceAt the blue trail, return to the parking lot via the same path
2.66 miEnd of trailEnd of trail
Trail map - Horsethief Canyon Trails
Altitude chart - Horsethief Canyon Trails Go left Stay left Sign Parking lot Stream Sharp right Sign Sign Sign End of trail
Difficulty: Easy
Difficulty: Moderate
Feature: Cave
Feature: Rock climbing
Terrain: Canyon
Terrain: Hilly
Trail surface: Dirt
Trail surface: Grassy
Type: Lollipop
View: Open
View: Overlooks
County: Ellsworth County
State: Kansas
Country: United States of America
Kansas Department of Tourism page
Brochure (PDF)
Printable trail map in PDF format (3 Mb download)
Printable trail map in PNG format (2 Mb download)
Waypoints in CSV format
Waypoints in KML format
Instructions on using a trail description page
Instructions on using a trail map printout
Trails in the surrounding area
Trailheads for Kansas and Nebraska (1 additional trail)
Trailheads for Iowa Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska (2 additional trails)
Trailheads for Kansas and Oklahoma (1 additional trail)
Trailheads for Kansas Missouri, and Oklahoma (2 additional trails)