Chase Lake Falls


Trip Date: Thursday, May 7th, 2020
Last Updated: Thursday, May 14th, 2020
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.8 miles roundtrip
Time 30 minutes
Terrain A few hills
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

While driving across Kansas, I was surprised to find 1) that the state isn't all flat and 2) that there are some pretty waterfalls hidden beyond the dams of many lakes! Chase Lake Falls is nestled between high, grassy hills, and has one of the coolest-looking waterfalls in Kansas. On this short hike, you'll see some of the surprising beauty of Kansas and not one, but three waterfalls!

The hike starts by walking around the gates and onto the wide, flat surface of the top of the dam, as pictured below. These kind of dams almost always have the best vantage point of the lake since no greenery can obstruct theh view.

The grass-covered earthen dam on Chase Lake

The grass-covered earthen dam on Chase Lake

The views on either side of the dam are lovely, with the rolling hills and tree-dotted grasslands on the left (first picture below), and Chase Lake surrounded by lush bluffs on your right (second picture below). This lake is located within the Flint Hills ecoregion. This distinctive part of Kansas was largely un-cultivated due to its hills and rocky soil, and as a result, the Flint Hills have the densest coverage of tallgrass prairie in North America. Visit the nearby Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve to see and learn more about this special region!
The beautiful, rolling grasslands of the Flint Hills

The beautiful, rolling grasslands of the Flint Hills

The glassy surface of Chase Lake on a moody day

The glassy surface of Chase Lake on a moody day

At the end of the dam, look for a trail leading downhill to your left, following Prather Creek. Be careful on the descent since the trail can be slick and muddy when wet. An opening in the brush on the right reveals the upper falls, as pictured below.
The upper falls from the trail

The upper falls from the trail

Continuing down the trail, you'll soon reach the main event, the impressive middle falls as pictured below. If you stand in the creek further away from the falls, you can see both the upper and middle falls simultaneously. After heavy rains, the waterfall grows and becomes an even more amazing sight.
The middle falls are the most impressive

The middle falls are the most impressive

Past the middle falls, you can continue downhill to see the lower falls, as pictured below. The trail ends here, so turn around when you're done enjoying the waterfall.
The lower falls on Prather Creek

The lower falls on Prather Creek

Enjoy this lovely surprise in Eastern Kansas, and connect with me using the social media links below to share your adventures!

Important Information

Dogs are allowed on leash. This hike is kid-friendly since it's short and offers the opportunity to play in Prather Creek. You can visit any time of the year, but the trail may be dangerously icy in winter. Expect to see people when it's a warm sunny weekend.


From Kansas City, take Interstate 35 south. In Emporia, take the exit for U.S. Highway 50. Make a left at the first traffic circle, then make a right at the second traffic circle, following signs for U.S. Highway 50 West. Turn left onto Cottonwood Street (Kansas Highway 177) in Strong City. Turn right onto Main Street (soon on your left you'll see one of the cutest small town main streets I've ever seen). After about 2 miles, turn left onto a dirt road signed for Chase Lake. Park on the side of the road as close as possible to the gates on top of the dam.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking is free! There are pit toilets further down the road.

Nearby Hikes

The most mushroomy of all the rocks is on the southern end of the park
Mushroom Rocks Loop
Mushroom Rock State Park, Kansas
Cedar Lake Falls
Cedar Lake Park, Kansas

External Links