Card Creek Camping area.
Windsurfing on Elk City Lake

Elk City Lake Recreation

Fishing and Hunting

Elk City Lake offers excellent opportunities for hunting and fishing.  Principle species of sport fish found in the lake include white crappie, wipers, white bass, largemouth bass, saugeye, channel catfish, flathead, and various sunfish.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has a license to approximately 12,240 acres of project area for wildlife management and public hunting.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers oversees 1,600 acres of the area for wildlife purposes.  Wildlife game species commonly found in the Elk City Lake area include bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbit, mourning dove, fox squirrel, white-tailed deer, turkey, and various species of ducks and geese.  The surrounding expanses of grass and wooded hillsides support some of the best quail populations in Kansas.  The distribution of deer in the area is excellent.  Opportunities for waterfowl hunters are good.  Portions of wildlife areas open to the public are marked with "Public Hunting Area" signs.  Gravel, township, and county dirt roads provide access to the areas.  All major roads entering wildlife management areas are marked with large white signs with black letters stating "Wildlife Area."  All vehicles are restricted to established roads or parking areas.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks urges all sportsmen to respect posted signs and not trespass on private adjoining property.

No hunting is permitted in developed recreational areas on the lake, in the vicinity of the dam and other project structures, or within the designated boundaries of the Waterfowl Refuge.

Hunting and fishing activities are regulated by Kansas law and federal regulation.  To ensure a pleasant experience for everyone, courtesy, safety, and good sportsmanship should be practiced at all times.

Camping and Picnicking

Three attractive park areas offer picnicking and camping sites (with and without electricity), swimming areas, boat launching ramps, water hydrants, sanitary facilities, showers, fireplaces, playgrounds, and group shelters.


Boating on the lake is in accordance with Kansas state laws and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations.  Operate your boat in a controlled, safe manner at all times.


Topography varies from steep slopes to broad rolling crop and pasture land.  A prominent feature is the precipitous rock bluff that marks the north margin of the river valley for several miles above the dam site.  Native trees and shrubs include ash, birch, elm, hickory, oak, walnut, sycamore, dogwood, hawthorn, redbud, deciduous holly, and sumac.  A myriad of wild mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates add greatly to the vitality and natural heritage of the area.


Swimming is available at Elk City State Park  


Elk City Lake is well known for its seven scenic trails: the Eagle Rock Mountain Bike Trail, Table Mound Hiking Trail, Post Oak Self-Guided Nature Trail, Green Thumb Nature Trail, Elk River Hiking Trail, Timber Ridge Hiking Trail, and Osage Lowland Trail which is a multi-purpose, all-weather trail. These trails meander through the colorful oak and hickory forest surrounding the lake and lead the hiker through some of the most interesting rock formations in Kansas while providing spectacular views of the lake and Elk River.  Many people who have hiked the trails claim them to be the best trail system in Kansas.  The Post Oak, Table Mound, and the Elk River Trails have been designated National Recreation Trails under the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Trail System.

View the Trail Map