Big Hill Lake
Photo by Jim Mason
|The beautiful Big Hill Creek valley is the setting for this lake.
Located in an oak-bluestem forest, commonly called the cross-timbers, the area provides a
wide variety of native vegetation and wildlife.
The Ruth Nixon trail follows the western shore of the lake through
woodlands of post, blackjack, red, and chinquapin oaks. Their acorns provide nutrition for
wild turkey, gray squirrels, and fox squirrels. Look for deer trails and watch for
cardinals, chickadees, bluejays, and woodpeckers. Armadillos, woodchucks, red and gray
foxes, and bobcats can also be found here. In spring, listen in the evening and early
morning for great horned owls, whip-poor-wills, and chuck-will's-widow. In early summer
watch for eastern bluebirds, American redstarts, Carolina wrens, and Kentucky warblers.
Big Hill Wildlife Area, in the uplands, contains grasslands and hedgerows.
Bluestem prairie grasses and wildflowers such as woolly verbena, green and butterfly
milkweed, western yarrow, partridge pea, spreading aster, and dotted gayfeather provide
habitat for mice, cottontails, and coyotes. Hedgerows of Osage orange, dogwood, and
persimmon furnish nesting sites for Bell's vireo, orchard orioles, northern bobwhite
quail, and scissor-tailed flycatchers. Reptile lovers may find ornate box turtles,
six-lined racerunners, five-lined skinks, great plains rat, and ringneck snakes. In wooded
areas be alert for copperheads. During migrations check the lake for snow and Canada
geese, canvasbacks, redheads, pintails, and blue-winged teal. The Big Hill Lake Bridle
Trail for equestrians loops around the northern part of the lake.
User fee, Shelter houses, Boat ramps, Showers, Water, Swimming Beach,
Five campgrounds with utility and primitive camping. Permit required.
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Ruth Nixon Trail (1 mile one-way); Big Hill Lake Bridle Trail (17 miles one-way).
Click the icon to find a birding list for Labette county.
Click the icon to locate nearby Geocaches
Cherryvale (50 miles west of Pittsburg) take U.S. 169 to Main Street. Turn east and go to
the end of Main. Go south 1 block, then 4 miles east. Maps and other information are
available at the Corps of Engineers Information Center on the west side of the dam. The
main horse trail parking lot is just south of U.S. 160 at the upper end of the lake (red
For a Google Map
of this site,
Big Hill Wildlife Area
encompasses over 1,200 acres of mixed upland tallgrass prairie and oak-hickory woodlands.
All areas are fenced and marked except for the southwest 80-acre parcel.
Parking areas are marked with
red dots on the map.
This is a public hunting area. Hikers should wear blaze orange if
they are in the area during hunting season.
Two large ponds and numerous small ponds offer "farm pond
fishing" and are magnets for local wildlife. The larger ponds have boat ramps.
The entities responsible for management of Big Hill are
Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.
Army Corps of Engineers (620) 336-2741; 2,560 acres
here to visit the US ACE Big Hill Lake web page.
Click the icon for the Corps
map of the lake.
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks
& Tourism (620)
431-0380; 1,280 acres
You may download the KDWPT brochure on Big Hill Wildlife Area from
their web site.
Funded by the
Chickadee Checkoff Program
Click here for a brochure!
Kansas web site
the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks
Re-publication of site content in any form other than for personal use
requires written permission. If you are a Kansas resident, please
assist with this and other wildlife viewing and conservation programs
by contributing to the Chickadee Checkoff on your state tax form.
Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism