Pillsbury Crossing Waterfall and Wildlife Area
Located about seven miles southeast of Manhattan, Kansas is the Pillsbury Crossing Waterfall and Wildlife Area. Listed as one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas Geography, Pillsbury Crossing is a low water crossing or ford formed by a limestone ledge that Deep Creek flows over. In this area a thick, flat limestone ledge forms a natural crossing over Deep Creek that has been used for over 100 years.
The limestone ledge forms somewhat of a natural dam so immediately upstream of it you have deeper water that used to be a popular swimming hole in the summer complete with a rope swing. Just downstream of the crossing you will find Deep Creek waterfall. Here the limestone ledge has broken away to form a beautiful waterfall that is about 60 feet long and 4-5 feet high.
The Pillsbury Crossing area is a popular spot on warm summer days. You will often find large groups enjoying the cool water. Families and kids enjoy wading in the shallow water that flows over the limestone ledge. Upstream of the falls deep creek is suitable for canoeing but downstream of the falls it is relatively shallow except in times of high water. Canoes, kayaks or other small non-motorized boats are allowed to go as far as ½ mile upstream from the crossing.
Pillsbury Crossing is named after J.H. Pillsbury who homestead in the area in 1855. Mr. Pillsbury came to Kansas in 1854 with the third party of the New England Em igrant Aid Company. In 1855 he helped found the Zeandale colony and was a member of the Topeka Constitutional Convention and the Topeka Legislature of 1856. He was also elected to be a delegate to the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention as well. In 1863 M. Pillsbury moved to Manhattan and started the Manhattan Independent. He continued to operate that newspaper until 1868. He also served as postmaster as well as a county surveyor. He died at Manhattan on November 12, 1879. In 1967 the 59 acres of land along Deep Creek was donated to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks so the public could enjoy this unique natural beauty.
There is a parking lot on the Northwest side of the crossing that provides ample parking but on some of my visits there I have seen people drive through the shallow water and park right next to the falls.
After parking in the parking lot one can easily wade through the shallow water to the waterfall and even beyond without any difficulty. Please be aware that the wet rocks can be very slick so be careful and stay safe.
There is also a short hiking trail going upstream from the crossing and hikers can also follow Deep Creek downstream along its side. Deep Creek is reported to have good channel cat fishing along with the chance of catching spotted bass, largemouth bass, bullheads and carp.
Directions to Pillsbury Crossing
Getting to Pillsbury Crossing is relatively easy but you do have to travel on some well-maintained dirt roads to get there. From Interstate 70 you take exit 316 and go north on Deep Creek Road for about five miles. Then turn right on Pillsbury Crossing Road for about two miles to Pillsbury Crossing Lane.
From Manhattan you should drive south on Highway 177 for two miles to Deep Creek Road. Turn east and follow Deep Creek Road for three miles until you get to Pillsbury Crossing Road. Continue on Pillsbury Crossing Road for about two miles until you get to Pillsbury Crossing Lane.
Special Regulations for Pillsbury Crossing Wildlife Area:
- There is a curfew and Pillsbury Crossing is closed from 10 p.m. to 6a.m.
- No alcoholic or cereal malt beverages are allowed on this area.
- No swimming, camping or hunting is allowed.