Exploring the Smithville Lake Trails: A Guide to Mountain Biking and Hiking

Are you yearning for an outdoor adventure that offers a diverse range of activities and stunning natural beauty?

Look no further than the Smithville Lake Trails, where you can indulge in mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding while soaking in the breathtaking views of the lake and its surroundings. Let’s dive in and discover the wonders of this enchanting trail system.

Key Takeaways

  • Explore the Smithville Lake Trails for a range of activities, including mountain biking, hiking and equestrian trails.
  • Enjoy scenic views and creek crossings on 24 miles of paved paths and 11 miles of single track trails.
  • Follow safety guidelines to ensure a safe experience while respecting other users & the environment.

Discovering Smithville Lake Trails

Nestled in the heart of Missouri, the Smithville Lake Trail System is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a variety of activities in a picturesque setting. Boasting 24 miles of paved walking and biking trails, 11 miles of single-track mountain biking trails, and 26 miles of equestrian trails, there’s something for everyone at Smithville Lake.

The trails offer a delightful blend of creek crossings, scenic vistas, and technical challenges, ensuring a memorable experience for all skill levels.

Smithville Lake: The Heart of Outdoor Adventure in Missouri

Dating back to the 1970s, the inception of Smithville Lake began with dam construction, leading to the lake’s formation in the early 1980s. This lake has since evolved into an outdoor adventure hub, drawing the attention of nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers regionwide.

The trail system, managed by Clay County with support from the Army Corps of Engineers, is maintained in excellent condition thanks to the hard work of local volunteers. So gear up and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the diverse landscape and captivating trails of Smithville Lake.

Trail System Overview: From Paved Paths to Challenging Singletracks

Positioned amidst the gently rolling hills and lush woodlands of Clay County, Missouri, Smithville Lake presents a trail system tailored for every adventurer. It ranges from:

  • spacious 10-foot-wide asphalt trails for walking and biking
  • challenging single-track routes for mountain biking
  • 26 miles of well-kept trails for equestrian lovers

For mountain bike fans, the Smoke & Davey Trail System is a must-see. Spanning 4.8 miles from Highway W to the north and Sailboat Cove to the south, it’s a network of trails not to be missed. The Crows Creek Trail System offers two 8.9-mile trails, perfect for those seeking a longer adventure.

Exploring the Different Trail Types: Mountain Biking, Hiking, and Equestrian Trails

No matter your preferred mode of exploration, Smithville Lake has a trail to suit your needs. The asphalt walking and biking trails are perfect for leisurely strolls or brisk rides, while the single-track mountain biking trails cater to thrill-seekers looking for a challenge.

Equestrian enthusiasts will appreciate the 26 miles of designated trails, offering a diverse landscape of rolling and flat terrain, numerous creek crossings, and a mix of native grasses, wildflowers, and timbered areas. For equestrians, facilities at Crows Creek cater to your needs, with electric and primitive camping sites, restrooms, showers, laundry, and water hydrants available for your convenience.

Maintaining safety and respecting the environment are integral parts of trail enjoyment. Exercise caution during hunting seasons, refrain from riding on wet trails, and consistently adhere to designated paths to contribute to a safe and enjoyable experience for every visitor.

Navigating the Trails: Key Features and Highlights

Smithville Lake Trails are teeming with unique features and highlights that make your adventure all the more enjoyable. From picturesque creek crossings to breathtaking scenic views, and even some technical challenges for those seeking to test their skills, the trails offer a diverse and captivating experience.

Creek Crossings: Where Water Meets the Trail

Creek crossings are where the trail intersects with the water, offering a refreshing break during your adventure. These picturesque spots are perfect for taking a moment to admire the beauty of nature and perhaps snap a photo or two.

When crossing creeks, be mindful of the current and depth, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and use a walking stick or trekking poles for balance. Remember, safety first!

Scenic Views: Capturing the Beauty of Smithville Lake

The stunning views of Smithville Lake and its surroundings provide the perfect backdrop for capturing memorable moments. From the overlooks along the trails to the serene lake itself, there are plenty of opportunities to take in the breathtaking beauty of the area.

Be sure to bring your camera and make use of the natural light to capture those picture-perfect shots.

Technical Challenges: Test Your Skills on the Trails

For those seeking a challenge, the bike trails offer various technical difficulties to test your skills. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced rider, there’s something for everyone.

Just remember to adhere to safety guidelines, stay on designated trails, and respect the environment as you push your limits and conquer these exhilarating challenges.

Land Management and Trail Maintenance

Unseen yet vital, the efforts of a land manager towards land management and trail maintenance contribute significantly to maintaining the Smithville Lake Trails in top condition for everyone’s enjoyment.

A collaborative effort between Clay County, the Army Corps of Engineers, and local volunteers ensures that the trails are well-maintained and safe for everyone.

Clay County: The Driving Force Behind the Trails

Clay County takes the lead in developing and maintaining the Smithville Lake Trails, working tirelessly to ensure that they are open and in good condition for those who enjoy outdoor activities.

Collaborating with the Army Corps of Engineers, they construct and manage the trails, guaranteeing that they remain secure and enjoyable for all visitors.

Army Corps Involvement: Supporting Local Recreation

The Army Corps of Engineers plays a significant role in supporting local recreation and contributing to the trail system’s success. They provide funding and resources to maintain and improve the trails, as well as to promote safety and education.

Their involvement ensures that the trails continue to thrive and provide enjoyment for all.

Volunteer Efforts: Keeping the Trails in Top Shape

Local volunteers are the unsung heroes of Smithville Lake Trails, dedicating their time and effort to keep the trails well-maintained and safe for all users. Some of the tasks they undertake include:

  • Removing debris
  • Addressing erosion
  • Repairing trail markers
  • Clearing overgrown vegetation

These volunteers play a vital role in preserving the trails and ensuring a positive experience for everyone.

Their efforts not only guarantee the trails are secure and enjoyable, but also lighten the load on local governments and organizations responsible for maintaining them.

Getting There: Directions and Parking

Now that you’re excited to explore the Smithville Lake Trails, let’s make sure you find your way there without any hassle.

From major highways to convenient parking options, we’ve got you covered.

Finding Your Way: Directions from Major Highways

To reach Smithville Lake Trails from Smithville, follow these steps:

  1. Travel north along the 169 Highway for approximately 4 miles.
  2. Turn right (east) onto the “W” Highway.
  3. Continue on the “W” Highway until you reach the bridge over the lake.

Proceed east on the “W” Highway for a few hundred feet until you reach a paved parking lot on the right. Alternatively, you can travel further along W to Paradise, turn right onto Paradise Road, and continue until you reach Sailboat Cove.

Parking Options: Sailboat Cove and Beyond

Parking is available at the Smoke N Davey and Sailboat Cove Trailhead, as well as other nearby locations. When the gate guards are on duty, you must pay a parking fee of $5 to park at the Sailboat Cove Trailhead. This fee is non-negotiable.

With plenty of parking options, you can start your adventure with ease and hit the trails in no time.

Tips for a Great Experience: Trail Etiquette and Safety

Following trail etiquette and safety guidelines is key to having a great experience on the Smithville Lake Trails. Abiding by these suggestions not only ensures your safety, but also contributes to environmental preservation and a harmonious experience for all.

When out on the paved trail, be sure to stay on the designated paths and avoid shortcuts on the trails.

Sharing the Trail: Respecting Other Users and the Environment

Adopting trail etiquette is fundamental to a safe and enjoyable Smithville Lake Trails experience. This includes:

  • Giving way to other users
  • Sticking to designated trails
  • Leaving minimal impact on the environment
  • Showing respect for wildlife and vegetation
  • Keeping noise levels in check
  • Abiding by any specific trail rules or regulations.

By respecting other users and the environment, we can all enjoy the beauty and adventure that the Smithville Lake Trails have to offer.

Staying Safe: Tips for Riding, Hiking, and Horseback Riding

Whether you’re riding, hiking, or horseback riding, safety should always be your top priority when exploring the trails. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

  • Stick to the designated trails
  • Wear a helmet
  • Be vigilant of your surroundings
  • Follow the trail rules relevant to your activity

With these safety tips in mind, you can focus on having fun and making the most of your adventure at Smithville Lake Trails.

Nearby Attractions and Amenities

Smithville Lake and its surrounding area offer a wealth of attractions and amenities to make your visit even more enjoyable. Some of the highlights include:

  • Local restaurants offering a variety of cuisines
  • Accommodations ranging from cozy bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels
  • Additional recreational opportunities such as hiking, fishing, and boating

You’ll find plenty to explore and experience during your stay.

Refueling After Your Adventure: Local Restaurants and Cafes

After a day of adventure on the trails, you’ll likely be ready to refuel and relax. The area surrounding Smithville Lake is home to a variety of restaurants and cafes, such as KoZak’s Laketown Grill, Chop’s BBQ & Catering, and Captain’s Corner.

With outdoor seating, takeout, and delivery services available, you can enjoy a tasty meal while reminiscing about your exciting day on the trails.

Rest and Relaxation: Accommodations in Smithville, MO

Whether you’re looking for a cozy bed and breakfast or a luxurious resort, Smithville, MO offers a range of accommodations to suit your preferences and budget. Popular options include Super 8 by Wyndham Smithville Lake, Basswood Resort, and Smithville Historical Museum and Inn.

With a comfortable place to rest and recharge, you’ll be ready for another day of adventure at Smithville Lake Trails.

More Outdoor Fun: Additional Recreational Opportunities in the Area

The fun doesn’t stop at the Smithville Lake Trails. The area offers a variety of other recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming, as well as parks like Wildflower Park, Remembrance Park, and Helvey Park, perfect for picnics and family outings.

With so much to see and do, you’ll never run out of exciting outdoor adventures to experience during your visit to Smithville Lake.


Smithville Lake Trails offer a diverse range of outdoor activities, stunning natural beauty, and well-maintained trails that cater to all skill levels.

With the support of Clay County, the Army Corps of Engineers, and local volunteers, the trails remain in excellent condition for everyone to enjoy. As you embark on your adventure, remember to practice trail etiquette and safety, ensuring a harmonious and enjoyable experience for all. Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a first-time visitor, the Smithville Lake Trails are sure to leave a lasting impression and inspire you to return for more exploration and adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Smithville Lake Trail?

The Smithville Lake Trail spans a distance of 26 miles, starting at Crows Creek Campground and ending in Arley, Missouri. It includes a mix of rolling and flat terrain, as well as many creek crossings.

The trail is popular among hikers, bikers, and horseback riders alike. It is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding countryside. There are several rest stops along the way, as well.

How do I reserve a shelter at Smithville Lake?

You can reserve a shelter at Smithville Lake by calling the Clay County Department of Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites on 816-407-3400 or emailing [email protected].

Shelters are available year round in areas such as Little Platte, Crows Creek and Sailboat Cove.

How big is Smithville Lake in Missouri?

Smithville Lake is an expansive lake in Missouri, measuring 7,200 acres and boasting 175 miles of shoreline.

It is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and blue.

What types of trails can I find at Smithville Lake Trails?

Smithville Lake Trails feature asphalt walking and biking trails, single-track mountain biking trails, and equestrian trails, offering visitors a range of outdoor activities to choose from.

From walking and biking to mountain biking and horseback riding, there is something for everyone at Smithville Lake Trails. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or an adrenaline-filled adventure, you’ll find it here. With miles of trails to explore.

Are the trails suitable for beginners?

Yes, the trails at Smithville Lake are suitable for beginners, offering a range of skill levels to accommodate riders of all abilities.

The trails are well-maintained and offer a variety of terrain, from flat and easy to more challenging hills and curves.

The lake also offers a variety of amenities, including restrooms, picnic areas, and more.