Atchison State Fishing Lake

Atchison State Fishing Lake
Atchison State Fishing Lake
Photo by Jim Mason

Atchison State Fishing Lake (built in 1957 as Hetherington Lake) is nestled among rounded hills blanketed by oak-hickory woodlands and broad valleys planted in corn. The 2.5 miles of gravel road from K-7 to the Independence Creek valley, where the lake is located, are like a roller coaster and can be slick when wet. Elm, willow, silver maple, and locust compose the riparian woodland, where wildflowers are abundant from spring through fall.

Butterflies are commonly seen in the woodlands and along the lake edge during the summer. Both fox and gray squirrels scamper through the trees. Tracks of white-tailed deer and raccoons cover the banks of the creek and lake. Red-eyed and yellow-throated vireos, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and summer tanagers nest here. Summer evenings bring the clear, mellow song of the whip-poor-will and the loud whistling call of the chuck-will's-widow. During fall and spring migrations, the lake will host puddle ducks (such as mallards and pintails) and diving ducks, including goldeneyes and redheads. There is a resident population of Canada geese, and groups of goslings accompanied by their parents may be seen in springtime.  Shorebirds are also present during migrations.

bulletRestroom, Water available, Picnic tables.

Camping icon Primitive camping.  1 cabin (make a reservation online).

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Trail icon No developed trails.

Click here to get county birding lists for Kansas. Click the icon to find a birding list for Atchison county.

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Atchison State Lake map

Location in Kansas


Directions: From Atchison (50 miles north of Kansas City) go 3 miles north on K-7 to 318th Road. This intersection is just past a hillcrest, so be aware of traffic when slowing for the turn.  Take the gravel road 2 miles west to Pawnee Road and follow it 0.5 miles north to the lake.

For the Google Map of this site, click here.

Ownership: The responsible entity for Atchison Lake is below.
Contact them if you have specific questions about use or management of the site.

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (785) 273-6740; 248 acres
You may download the KDWPT brochure for Atchison State Fishing Lake from their web site.

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the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.

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


Questions or comments about Natural Kansas may be directed to Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism