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Hays, KS: Castle Rock

Explore a rocky labyrinth and towering sandstone spires on this easy 2.3-miler around an eroded ancient sea bed in central Kansas.

Rating

Millions of years of erosion carved the dramatic bluffs, spires and pinnacles of this stepped, 100-foot contour that is one of Kansas’ most interesting geological features.
Begin this trip with a drive to the overlook above the cliffs for a birds-eye view before setting out on foot. The parking area about half-way up this mile-long bluff system is a great place to start; the central section of the bluff is packed with arches, tunnels and eroded gullies to explore. This route loops south first, climbing user-created trails to the bluff top and following its edge. .4 mile in, the trail dips to the road—be sure to explore the two large crags on its south side—before tuning north under the cliffs.
This route follows the road for .2 miles and tucks back into the maze of cliffs to bypass the parking area and continue north past a large fin formation and through an open field toward the grayish mounds just west of Castle Rock.
Castle Rock itself towers over 60 feet high and marks the northern end of this loop. After cruising it’s base, follow the dirt road, or the small singletrack trail alongside it, .6 miles back to the parking area.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

To Trailhead

Take the Quinter exit, 107, 50 miles east of Hays from I-70. Turn left onto Castle Rock Rd. and drive south 15 miles. Turn left onto County Road K, drive 4 miles. Turn left onto County Road 80, drive 1 mile to the overlook and continue 1.2 miles looping east and north to the second turn-around.

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