Big Creek is a 221-mile stream in north central Kansas. It is a tributary of the Smoky Hill River.
Big Creek originates in the High Plains of northwestern Kansas, with its source in extreme northwestern Gove County. From there, it generally flows east-southeast through the Smoky Hills to its confluence with the Smoky Hill River in southwestern Russell County.
In Ellis County, Kansas, Big Creek flows through the cities of Ellis and Hays. In Ellis, it is dammed to maintain a small reservoir, Big Creek Lake.
In Hays, the creek runs through the campus of Fort Hays State University, and a community lake is formed by a small, low-water dam at the south end of Hays. The lake, located in Frontier Park, contains several sportfish species. It is stocked with catchable largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and channel catfish around the time of the Wild West Festival. Other than these occurrences, it is not intensively managed.
Compiled by Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated August 2022.
Early River Commerce in Kansas