From the Historic Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast Bed & Breakfast/Suites and Museums

Discover our natural beauty, historical past, recreation resources, and country lifestyle.


Pearsen-Skubitz "Big Hill Lake" Cherryvale  

Open year-round.  Nestled in the rolling prairies and timbered countryside known as the "Little Ozarks", Big Hill Lake is only a short 5-mile drive from the Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast . It is the only clear freshwater water lake of its type in Kansas. It began operation in 1981, covers 2,572-acres and  forms 20-miles of shoreline with 1,240 surface acres of water. The lake was formed when a dam was built across Big Hill Creek to prevent the raging waters during heavy rains from washing away crops, fertile soil and at times even livestock. The lake is named after an Osage Indian chief, "Big Hill Joe." During its construction, the area was popular with archaeologists, many items found are on display at the lake's U.S. Army Corps Project Office. Food, bait and tackle shops, and medical facilities are available near the lake.

Camping, RVing, Picnicking & Swimming: Surrounding the lake are five beautiful park areas, Cherryvale Park, Downstream Point, Mound Valley Park, Overlook Point, and Timber Hill Camp which offer many recreational activities. Included are 140 designated camper and RV sites (104 with electricity), showers, running water restrooms, sanitary facilities, all paved roads and pullouts, a creative playground and ball field, rustic group shelters with potable water, and comfortable tables with convenient cooking grills. A special area has been set aside for tent campers. In addition, picnickers can utilize either of the two Day Use areas which offer group picnicking facilities or individual picnic sites. Bill Hill Lake has one of the few alcohol-free sand-covered swimming beaches in Kansas. The beach has a changing-house with  restrooms. Flying a kite on a breezy spring afternoon is recreation to the fullest. Many outdoor fans enjoy kite flying and even flying radio-controlled airplanes at the vast open area south of the lake's dam. During the warmer summer months, an afternoon picnic and evening stroll at one of the camping facilities is a must. Fees are collected on a seasonal pass at three of the park areas.

Fishing: The Fishing Season in Kansas is Open Year-Round. Due largely to pre-impoundment planning and management practices such as leaving large areas of timber and other vegetation standing, construction of fish shelters, and stocking of borrow areas, the Big Hill Lake fisheries have developed into one of the most productive and popular fresh water fishing lakes in Kansas. Principal species of sport fish include largemouth and small mouth bass, crappie, channel and flathead catfish, bluegill, walleye, and other sunfish that are native to the area. Two-lane boat ramps make launching recreational and fishing boats easy. Kansas fishing and hunting licenses are required. US Army Corps boating permits are required on water crafts as well. Big Hill Lake is truly a fisherman's dream and is listed in the "Top 20" bass lakes by Field and Stream magazine. For current fishing reports in Region 5, please click here. For current weather conditions, please click here. 

Hunting: Seasonal, October through Mid-March. Approximately 800 acres of project lands are for wildlife with special restriction open to public hunting. Game species are numerous and varied around Big Hill Lake. Most abundant are bobwhite quail, rabbit, gray and fox squirrel, mourning dove, migratory waterfowl, wild turkey and white-tail deer. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks also owns and manages 1,350 acres of land for public hunting about one-mile from the lake. The nine counties of southeastern Kansas are said to be the "The Best for Hunting Quail". Bobwhite Quail harvest in Kansas annually tops over 2,000,000 birds.

Trails: Seasonal. In addition to camping, picnicking, swimming, boating, water skiing, hiking, bird watching, fishing, hunting and sightseeing, a 17-mile Horse Trail surrounding three-fourths of the lake provides a variety of terrain for riders of all ages. It is recognized by the North American Trail Riders Conference. It also offers tethering areas and three large tufted parking areas equipped with limited facilities that may be used for overnight camping by trail riders. Highway 160 Access Point features room for 75 trailers and towing vehicles with restroom, tables and a fire-ring for primitive camping, and a bulletin board for information. For your safety the entire trail is closed to riders during firearms deer season.

The Ruth Nixon Memorial Hiking Trail is one-mile in length and meanders along the lake's western shoreline. This trail links the Overlook and Cherryvale Recreation areas and is equipped with hiker's rest areas to enjoy the views of the lake. Bird watchers will enjoy the many species of birds, both migratory and the ones that stay year round. Wildflowers are abundant in the area during the spring and fall. Persimmon, Osage orange, redbud and dogwood are produced by hedgerows and former farmsteads. Walnut, oak, hickory, cedar, wild plum, wild cherry, and many other varieties of trees gracefully dotting the landscape. During the warmer summer months an afternoon picnic and evening stroll at one of the camping facilities is a must. © 2000-2016

This beautifully maintained lake is a project of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Inquires regarding the project and its use are welcomed at the Project Office located near the dam, phone 620 336-2741, web site Click below for Big Hill construction and Pertinent Data. All hunting and fishing activities are in accordance with both State and Federal regulations. Order brochures and/or purchase licenses on line 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks,

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Santa Fe Tanko Lake, Cherryvale 

Roads end at South Galveston Street. Open all year.  Built in 1870 to draw fresh water for the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston Railway steam locomotives and later for the Atchison Topeka Santa Fe Railway's steam locomotives, this 45-acre lake was deeded by the Santa Fe Railway to the city as a New Years gift in 1954. Prior to being deeded to the city, by some sort of lease arrangement, it became the water supply for the entire town until 1900 when the the new municipal water lake was puts into service. 

During the depression years, the old lake was seized by a group of volunteers and huge amounts of fish were distributed among those who hardly knew where their next meal was to come from. After the Santa Fe Railway discontinued use of the old lake, for years its served no practical use. In April 1, 1957, public fishing opened at the lake. The Cherryvale News, April 28, 1881, stated: "Last week the fish commissioner for this state, Mr. Long, put 10,000 fish in the lake south of town."

It is now part of Cherryvale's Recreation Commission with three baseball fields, a pitching batting cage, basketball and tennis courts, playground and a picnic shelter with fire pit. The commission organizes youth baseball, softball, football, and basketball leagues each season. Tanko Lake is still an ideal fishing spot for young and old alike with its fishing berms and a small boat ramp. The National Guard has built a bridge to the island for added fishing access. But largemouth bass under 18 inches and channel catfish under 15 inches must be returned into the water. Guests at the lake can enjoy the migratory waterfowl which make the lake a regular stop on their mysterious seasonal journeys. Sometimes "Tanko" even provides an ideal skating place. 

If you come to town and can not find that person at home during summer evenings, chances are they will be enjoying the cool breeze from the lake with their family, friends and neighbors creating cherished memories with their children, grandchildren and neighbor's children engaging in some wholesome entertainment or relaxation. Overnight Camping, Swimming, Firearms and Hunting are prohibited at Tanko Lake. © 2000-2005 Wayne Hallowell

Lakeview Country Club & Resort, Cherryvale   

Located two miles southeast of downtown Cherryvale, the Lakeview Country Club & Resort is on 150-arcres, with a 50-acre fresh water lake that was at one time Cherryvale's municipal waterworks.  A wonderful Wedding Venue!

Elk City Reservoir, Elk City  

Open year-round.  Operated by the Army Corp of Engineers, this tranquil reservoir in the Osage Questas of southeastern Kansas, is located 19-miles west of Cherryvale off Highway 160 and is well known among fishermen and hunters. It forms a lake featuring a shoreline nearly 50-miles in length. Elk City Lake offers a wide variety of other outdoor recreation, camping, picnicking, sightseeing, swimming, boating, water skiing, hiking, and wildlife spotting for one to come and enjoy. The huge pileated woodpecker is common among the mature trees. A myriad of wild mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates add greatly to the vitality and natural heritage of the area. Wintering waterfowl feeding in the wildlife refuge provides spectacular viewing in spring and late fall.

Camping, RVing, Picnicking & Swimming: Paved access roads lead into four attractive park areas maintained both by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks with picnicking and camping sites both with and without electricity. Card Creek Park and Oak Ridge offer one-lane boat launching ramps and included swimming areas, water hydrants, sanitary facilities, fireplaces, and group shelters. Primitive as well as modern camp sites are also available.

Fishing: Season Open Year-Round.  Excellent opportunities for fishing are provided by both the state of Kansas and the Corps with a combined total of 8,450 acres of surface water. Principal species include white crappie, wipers, white bass, largemouth bass, saugeye, channel catfish, flathead and various sunfish. In May of 1998, a 123-pound, 61 inch flathead was caught there. The handicap access fishing dock is located within the state park area. Fishing tournaments are welcome. There are numerous underwater hazards for boaters to be especially watchful for. All boaters must wear life jackets and make sure someone is aware of where you are. 

Hunting: Seasonal October through Mid-March. The US Army Corps of Engineers oversees 1,600 acres for wildlife purposes. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has a license to approximately 12,240 acres of project area for wildlife management and public hunting on the east shore. Almost all areas are open for public hunting except around the developed recreational areas, the dams, control structures and the water fowl fefuge. These open areas are marked with "Public Hunting Area" signs and have gravel, township, and county dirt roads providing necessary access. Rifles, shotguns, handguns, primitive firearms, and bows and arrows can be used in designated hunting areas.

Primary species hunted are whitetail deer, bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbit, morning dove, fox and gray squirrel, prairie chickens, and a variety of species of duck and geese. Only temporary duck blinds are authorized and must be removed after each days use. Wild turkeys were reintroduced into the area in 1953, and their numbers have grown over the years. The surrounding expanses of grass and wooded hillsides support some of the best quail populations in Kansas. Common furbearers include beaver, raccoon, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, opossum, mink, and muskrat. A portion of the state park is open to shot gun pellets and archery hunting only. Kansas fishing licenses, boat permits, hunting licenses and maps are available at the project office.

Backpacking and Hiking: The lake is well known for its six scenic trails. The area has many habitat types, which support a variety of wildlife. These trails meander through the colorful oak and hickory forest surrounding the lake dominated with vegetation consisting of big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian grass and switchgrass and other plants associated with the bluestem prairie. A prominent feature of the landscape is the precipitous rock bluff of limestone known as Table Mound. Wind and erosion have created many scenic vistas on the bluffs along the park's northern border and lead the hiker through some of the most interesting rock formation in Kansas. In the spring and fall, three trails are alive with an abundance of vivid colors. The trails range from a one-mile all-weather/handicap accessible trail to a 15-mile scenic trail offering spectacular opportunity to view various wildlife species and for the nature enthusiast to enjoy wonderful views. Two of the hiking trails are noted for being the first trails in the state of Kansas to receive the National Trails designation. © 2000-2016

The lake is a project of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Inquires regarding  its use are welcomed at the reservoir's Project Office, phone 620 336-2741, Fax 620 336-3903, web site[t.html. State Park Office, 620 331-6295. Hunting and fishing regulations are provided by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. Order brochures and purchase licenses on line 24 hours a day, seven days a week,

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You know you're in a small town when you are given directions to turn left where the big oak tree use to be...

© 1999-2016 Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast.  Web Site created, compiled and maintained by Wayne Hallowell, Director of the Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast

The above information is part of the heritage of Cherryvale, Kansas and the legacy of the
Leatherock Hotel Bed & Breakfast 
A Bed & Breakfast and Museum
420 North Depot Street  Cherryvale, KS 67335
Information and Reservations   620 336-3350

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