Fishing and Hunting
Approximately 800 acres of project lands are being managed for wildlife and, with some special restrictions, are open to public hunting. Game species are numerous and varied around Big Hill Lake. The most abundant are bobwhite quail, rabbit, gray and fox squirrels, mourning dove, migratory waterfowl, wild turkey and white-tailed deer. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks owns and manages 1350 acres of land for public hunting about one-half mile from the project.
Due largely to pre-impoundment planning and management practices such as the construction of fish shelters, leaving large areas of timber and other vegetation standing and the stocking of borrow areas and other bodies of water that were inundated, the Big Hill Lake fisheries have developed into one of the most productive and popular fisheries in the area. Principal species of sport fish include largemouth bass, crappie, channel and flathead catfish, bluegill, and other sunfish that are native to the area, walleye and smallmouth bass.
All hunting and fishing activities at the project are in accordance with the State and Federal regulations, and the same licenses are required as in other parts of Kansas.
The Corps of Engineers urges all sportsmen to respect all posted signs on the areas and to not trespass on private and adjoining property. Project hunting maps showing areas open for hunting; specific regulations and restrictions are available from the Project Office and from the Tulsa District Office.
Camping and Picnicking
Five beautiful areas are offered by the Corps of Engineers for camping, picnicking and other outdoor activities. Facilities available at these areas include designated campsites both with and without electricity, picnic areas, group picnic shelters, potable water, sanitary facilities, boat launching ramps, a playground, ballfield, and a swimming beach with a changehouse.
Boating on the lake is in accordance with the Kansas State Boating Laws and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations. All boats propelled by a motor of any kind or a sailboat must be numbered and registered with the State of Kansas or legally registered with another state. Operate your boat in a controlled, safe manner at all times. For more complete information, see the "Kansas Boaters Guide."
The vicinity in which Big Hill Lake is located has long been noted for its rolling prairies and tree-dotted valleys. The natural beauty of the area with its wide variety of native wildlife and vegetation is an open invitation to all nature enthusiasts.
For bird watchers, there are many species of birds in the area, including migratory waterfowl and other species that spend summers in Kansas as well as those inhabiting the area year round. One bird that is becoming more familiar to Big Hill Lake is the Eastern Bluebird. The population of these beautiful birds has increased in the area due to the numerous bluebird boxes placed in the park areas. This network of boxes is designated as the Gene H. Pfeil Memorial Bluebird Trail.
Wildflowers are abundant in the area during the spring and fall, and can be seen in open pastures, along fence rows and in timbered areas. Persimmon, osage orange, redbud and dogwood are produced by hedgerows and former farmsteads.
Big Hill Lake has one of the few sandy beaches in Kansas. To help ensure your safety and the safety of others, glass containers are not allowed on the beach or in the water. In addition, statistics indicate alcohol is involved in a majority of drownings; for this reason, alcohol is not allowed on the beach or in the beach parking area.
The Ruth Nixon Memorial Hiking Trail is one mile in length and meanders along the lake's western shoreline. The trail links the Overlook and Cherryvale Recreation areas and is equipped with rest areas that allow the hiker to stop, rest, and enjoy the view of the lake.
Another feature at the lake is the Big Hill Lake Horse Trail. This trail surrounds three-fourths of the lake and is approximately 17 miles long. The horse trail provides a variety of terrain for riders of all ages to enjoy. It also offers tethering areas and three large turfed parking areas which are equipped with limited facilities and may be used for overnight camping by the trail riders.