Milford Lake, Kansas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - Kansas - Northeast -

Also known as:  Milford Reservoir

Milford Lake is the largest reservoir in Kansas with 163 shoreline miles and 16,000 surface acres. The lake offers abundant recreational opportunities with prime fishing, sandy swimming beaches, and public ramps for launching boats, canoes, and sailboats. Known as the “Lake of Blue Water,” scenic Milford Lake is easily accessible, about 30 miles west of Manhattan in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The lake and the surrounding 21,000 acres, located in Geary and Clay Counties, make up one of Kansas’ prime outdoor habitats.

Milford Lake is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1954, construction of the dam on the Republican River took five years to complete, from 1962 to 1967. In addition to the Republican River, other major streams flowing into Milford Lake are Madison, Farnum, Quimby, Rush, Curtis, and School Creeks. The multi-purpose project was built for flood control, water supply, water quality, navigation, recreation, and wildlife enhancement. Since filling to the multi-purpose pool level in 1967, Milford Reservoir has become a Kansas recreational mecca. Visitors enjoy a stop at the Corps’ Visitor Center, located on the south end of the dam. The Center is open seven days a week during the recreation season, and Monday through Friday from fall to spring. Visitors learn how the dam works, who inhabited the area before the European settlers, and even have an opportunity to view fossils estimated at 280 million years old.

Accommodations at Milford Lake include private and public camp sites, RV sites, and cabin rentals. Milford State Park spans 1,084 acres and offers both primitive campsites and modern campsites with showers, restrooms, electric, water and sewer hook-ups. For visitors who prefer more creature comforts, the park also has three housekeeping cabins for rent with heat and air conditioning. Milford State Park also provides recreational amenities such as swimming beaches, boat ramps, picnic shelters, a full-service marina, a multi-purpose trails system, and wildlife viewing tower. The park has a dedicated jet-ski beach, where visitors can launch their watercraft and leave their vehicles at the water’s edge. Milford State Park even houses a private yacht club. For sailing enthusiasts, Sailboat Cove is a great way to meet other sailors. The sandy beach near South Boat Ramp provides shelters for family and group picnics.

Many trails around Milford Lake allow access to sightseers, birdwatchers, cyclists, joggers, and those looking for a leisurely scenic walk. Milford State Park offers four trails for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, ranging in length from 1/2 mile to 8 miles: Crystal Trail, Waterfall Pond Trail, Pipeline Trail, and Eagle Ridge Trail. Pipeline Trail is the main access trail. The segmented trail system connects all of the campgrounds together, acting as a shortcut between areas. Beaver, wood ducks, pheasants, quail, herons, and kingfishers are visible throughout the trails. In the summer, six-lined racerunner lizards can be sighted. One of the more popular off-road vehicle areas is the 287-acre School Creek ORV area. Vehicles that are 50 inches wide or less are allowed to use this area.

Milford Lake is a popular destination for fishermen looking for catches of walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, spotted bass, white bass, wipers (cross between white bass and striped bass), catfish (blue, channel, and flathead), crappie, bluegill and sunfish. In early April, walleye are found along the face of Milford Lake dam to spawn, and otherwise are found in the flats at Farnum Creek and mud points near School Creek. Crappie and largemouth bass are abundant in almost all of the brushy and rocky coves, although the traditional hot spots for crappie are coves in the Rolling Hills and Curtis Creek areas. Smallmouth bass are regularly found at the face of the dam and rocky points in the lower half of the lake. White bass and catfish are prevalent throughout the lake. Some of the most esteemed fishing tournaments in America are hosted at Milford Lake.

The Milford Wildlife Area consists of approximately 19,000 acres of public land open to hunting. The plentiful game include deer, quail, pheasant, prairie chicken, duck, goose, rabbit, turkey and squirrel. Trappers pursue raccoon, muskrat, and beaver. An additional 2,300 acres at the north end of the lake is dedicated to the Milford Wetlands Restoration Project, promoting migratory stopover and breeding habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife species. Approximately 1,100 of these acres is the Steve Lloyd Refuge which provides a wildlife viewing area for visitors. The Refuge is a great place to view waterfowl, shorebirds, birds of prey, and songbirds throughout the seasons. Both the Milford Wildlife Area and the Wetlands Project are managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

Another fine wildlife viewing location is the causeway at the north end of Milford Lake. A good place to park while scanning the area for birds is Clay County Park, which is located in Wakefield on the west side of the lake. During the winter season bald eagles frequent the area. White pelicans flock to the park during spring and fall. Wood ducks, widgeon, geese, cormorants, grebes, green herons, gulls, shorebirds, eastern bluebirds, Harris’ sparrows, northern cardinals, blue jays, and several species of woodpeckers are also prevalent during migrations.

Milford Nature Center and Milford Fish Hatchery, both located below the dam, are must-sees. Tours are available by appointment only. The Tall Grass Nature Trail begins at the nature center. Seasonal songbirds and butterflies are featured in a backyard habitat demonstration area. The nature center and hatchery are open from April through October.

Visitors to the Kansas Landscape Arboretum will enjoy 1,000 species of native and exotic plants adapted to the Kansas environment. The Arboretum is open daily from March through October. Easily accessible trails meander through prairie and woodland habitats. The longest trail, stretching one mile, is the Woodland Trail. The Bird Sanctuary Trail encircles a small pond. The Meadow Willow Trail follows along the riverbank, and the Wild Acres Trail circles a prairie meadow. The Schroeder Garden provides a picnic area.

Whether on the water or off, Milford Lake provides bountiful recreational opportunities for all who visit.

Things to do at Milford Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Jet Skiing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park

Fish species found at Milford Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • White Bass

Milford Lake Photo Gallery

Milford Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 15,709 acres

Shoreline Length: 163 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,144 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,176 feet

Average Depth: 25 feet

Maximum Depth: 65 feet

Water Volume: 351,577 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1967

Water Residence Time: 1 year

Drainage Area: 3,796 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

Spread the word! Share our Milford Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.