Exploring Smithville Lake – A Guide to Missouri’s Natural Beauty

Nestled in the heart of Missouri, Smithville Lake offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With a myriad of recreational activities and breathtaking natural beauty, it’s an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a family vacation.

Are you ready to explore this picturesque lake and all it has to offer? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Explore Smithville Lake, MO for outdoor recreation activities such as boating, fishing and golfing.
  • Discover Clay County Parks and downtown Kansas City for diverse attractions & recreational opportunities.
  • Enjoy the natural beauty of the lake while keeping an eye out for migratory birds.

Discovering Smithville Lake, MO

Smithville Lake, a 7,190-acre reservoir in Clay County, Missouri, is an oasis of outdoor adventure, offering a wide variety of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy.

Managed by the Kansas City office of the United States Army Corps of Engineers primarily for flood control, the lake has evolved into a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Some of the activities you can enjoy at Smithville Lake include:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Equestrian trails

There is something for everyone at this picturesque lake, including great fishing.

With a sprawling shoreline and numerous facilities, Smithville Lake offers a variety of activities for water sports enthusiasts, golfers, and sailing aficionados. Some of the highlights include:

  • Two full-service marinas
  • Boat rentals
  • Sailboat cove for sailing enthusiasts
  • Paradise Pointe Golf Complex, which features two public 18-hole golf courses and a 4-hole Academy course

Whether you enjoy boating, sailing, or golfing, Smithville Lake has something for everyone to enjoy.

For those who prefer to explore on foot or horseback, the lake boasts an extensive network of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.

Boating Adventures

Ideal for water enthusiasts, Smithville Lake is teeming with boating adventures. The Camp Branch Marina. Store offers rentals of fishing boats and pontoon boats, ensuring that you have the right vessel for your aquatic adventures. With five multi-lane boat launch ramps and ample parking, it’s easy to get your boat on the water and start exploring the lake.

The management at Smithville Lake prioritizes safety, diligently regulating boat traffic for a safe and fun experience. So whether you’re an experienced boater or a novice sailor, Smithville Lake offers endless opportunities for fun and adventure on the water.

Paradise Pointe Golf Complex

The Paradise Pointe Golf Complex, Kansas City’s sole public golf facility, awaits golf enthusiasts. This 36-hole golf complex, comprising two public 18-hole golf courses and a 4-hole Academy course, caters to golfers of all skill levels, making it an ideal destination for a leisurely round or a competitive game with friends.

The Paradise Pointe Golf Complex offers:

  • Well-maintained courses
  • Stunning views of Smithville Lake
  • A picturesque and challenging golf experience
  • A memorable day on the greens

Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or a beginner, the Paradise Pointe Golf Complex has something for everyone.

Equestrian Trails and Outdoor Fun

Equestrian enthusiasts will find a paradise in Smithville Lake, which boasts 26 miles of equestrian trails starting at Crows Creek Campground. The trails wind through diverse landscapes, including:

  • Open fields
  • Dense woodlands
  • Creek crossings
  • Rolling hills

These dirt trails provide riders with a unique and invigorating experience.

In addition to equestrian trails, the lake also offers miles of hiking and biking trails for those who prefer to explore on foot or by pedal power. With a variety of terrain and difficulty levels, these trails cater to outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and abilities, promising a day of fun and adventure in the great outdoors.

Camping Options Around Smithville Lake

Smithville Lake, brimming with camping options, makes a perfect getaway for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the campsites available include:

  • Crows Creek Campground: Secluded shores for a peaceful camping experience
  • Little Platte Park: Picturesque scenery for a scenic camping trip
  • Camp Branch: A campsite that offers a variety of amenities and activities

There is a campsite to suit every preference at Smithville Lake.

Whether you prefer tent camping, RV camping, or even primitive camping, the campgrounds surrounding Smithville Lake offer a diverse range of facilities and experiences. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the lake and enjoy a peaceful night under the stars in one of these tranquil campgrounds.

Smith’s Fork Park

Located at the Smithville Lake dam, Smith’s Fork Park provides a campground with ample amenities for tent and RV camping. The park features a range of facilities, including:

  • Fishing
  • Hiking trails
  • Swimming
  • Boat rental
  • Playground
  • Easy access to Smithville Lake

These amenities, including picnic shelters, ensure a fun and comfortable stay for campers of all ages.

In addition to the well-maintained campground, Smith’s Fork Park also offers numerous recreational activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to relax by the water, cast a line, or explore the nearby trails, Smith’s Fork Park provides the perfect setting for an unforgettable camping experience.

Little Platte Park and Camp Branch

Little Platte Park and Camp Branch are two picturesque campsites situated on Smithville Lake, offering a variety of camping options, including tent camping, RV camping, and primitive camping. These scenic campsites provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing getaway, with easy access to the lake for boating, fishing, and swimming.

Both Little Platte Park and Camp Branch offer an array of activities for campers to enjoy, such as hiking, picnicking, and wildlife spotting. With their serene settings and diverse recreational offerings, these campsites are ideal for a memorable family vacation or a peaceful retreat with friends.

Crows Creek

Crows Creek Campground, situated on the southeast side of Smithville Lake, offers 406 campsites suitable for both tent and RV camping. The campground is renowned for its horse-friendly camping and trails, making it a popular destination for horse enthusiasts.

In addition to equestrian facilities, Crows Creek provides an array of recreational activities, including:

  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking

With its diverse landscape and tranquil setting, Crows Creek is a fantastic location for those seeking to connect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors.

Fishing at Smithville Lake

Anglers will find a haven in Smithville Lake, which presents ample fishing opportunities from the shore and by boat. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including walleye, crappie, and catfish, providing ample opportunities for both casual and experienced anglers to cast their lines.

To maximize your chances of success, consider using small plastic jigs and minnows in designated areas, such as the vicinity of standing timber and brush piles, when targeting crappie. Additionally, the management objective for walleye fishing in Smithville Lake focuses on harvesting, ensuring a sustainable and enjoyable fishing experience for all.

Tips for Visiting Smithville Lake

Planning a visit to Smithville Lake? Here are some helpful tips to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience.

First, take advantage of the amenities available, such as shower houses, potable water, and toilets. Next, participate in the various water activities offered at the lake, including boating, fishing, and swimming.

Don’t forget to wear a life jacket when boating on the lake and always be mindful of local regulations and safety guidelines. Also, explore the surrounding attractions, such as hiking trails, equestrian trails, and local wineries, and visit the sandy beaches and playgrounds for some family fun.

Lastly, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the lake and keep an eye out for migratory birds like pelicans and cormorants.

Exploring Clay County Parks and Beyond

Smithville Lake represents one of the countless treasures in Clay County, Missouri. The county is home to a plethora of parks and activities for visitors to explore, such as Watkins Mill State Park and Jesse James Birthplace Museum. These parks offer activities like hiking, fishing, boating, camping, and picnicking, ensuring a fun-filled adventure for all ages.

For those looking for a more urban experience, downtown Kansas City is a short drive away and boasts a vibrant culture and an array of attractions, such as:

  • The City Market
  • The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
  • The Crown Center, which includes attractions like the SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium and the Hallmark Visitors Center.

Clay County Parks

Several beautiful parks like Smithville Lake Park and Camp Branch Park, filled with outdoor recreational opportunities, are nestled within Clay County. These parks provide picturesque settings and diverse landscapes, from lush forests to serene lakeshores, promising an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Whether you’re looking to spend a day hiking, fishing, or simply relaxing by the water, Clay County Parks has something to offer everyone. With their extensive trail networks, diverse wildlife, and well-maintained facilities, these parks are a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the area.

Downtown Kansas City

Experience the bustling city life of downtown Kansas City, a lively and vibrant area that offers a plethora of attractions and activities to enjoy. From the historic City Market to the stunning architecture of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, there’s something for everyone in this dynamic city.

Visitors can also explore the Crown Center, which features attractions like the SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium and the Hallmark Visitors Center. With its diverse array of cultural experiences, delicious dining options, and bustling entertainment scene, downtown Kansas City is the perfect destination for those looking to experience the best of urban living.


Smithville Lake, with its enchanting natural beauty and diverse recreational offerings, is a true gem in the heart of Missouri.

Whether you’re an avid angler, a seasoned hiker, or simply looking for a serene escape, Smithville Lake and its surrounding attractions promise an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and embark on an adventure of a lifetime at this picturesque oasis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to pay to go to Smithville Lake?

Yes, you have to pay for a park pass to access Smithville Lake, which starts at $5 per car.

Can you swim in Smithville Lake?

Yes, you can swim in Smithville Lake as two public swim beaches are operated and maintained by Clay County Parks Department and are open to the public from May 1 to September 15.

The beaches are open daily from 10am to 8pm and offer a variety of amenities such as lifeguards, restrooms, and picnic areas. Visitors can also rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards.

What fish are biting at Smithville Lake?

Smithville Lake is known to be an excellent spot for catching bluegill, channel catfish, and largemouth bass.

What recreational activities are available at Smithville Lake?

At Smithville Lake, you can enjoy a variety of recreational activities, such as boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, and golfing.

The lake is also equipped with equestrian trails, making it perfect for horseback riding.