Missouri Outdoors

Smithville Lake

Sailboat marina at Smithville Lake, MO
Sunset at the marina at Smithville Lake, MO

Smithville Lake is a 7,200 acre lake with more than 175 miles of shoreline.  Located just 20 miles from downtown Kansas City, the lake area offers several recreational opportunities available to the outdoor enthusiast including: great fishing whether from shore or by boat, 2 full service marinas including boat rentals, 2 swim beaches, 777 campsites, 1 sailboat only marina, dockside restaurant, reservable shelters, 2 public 18-hole golf courses within the Paradise Pointe Golf Complex, 4 disc golf courses, 25 miles of walking/biking trails, 26 miles of equestrian trails, 11 miles of single-track mountain biking trails, home to Kansas City Trapshooters Association, public hunting that includes managed goose hunts as well as youth and ADA white-tail deer and wild turkey hunts, and an aggressive 2,300 acre native grassland revitalization project.

One of Missouri's Best Fisheries

Smithville Lake receives more fishing pressure than any other large reservoir in Missouri.  It’s no coincidence that one of Missouri’s best fishing lakes is also one of its busiest and for a good reason.  Located about 20 minutes from downtown Kansas City, its steady high-quality fishing for bass, crappie, walleye, catfish and white bass is a lure most anglers can’t ignore.

The Conservation Department made preparations for this great fishery starting in 1975 before the dam that made the lake was constructed.  Fisheries biologists began stocking Trimble Lake and numerous farm ponds that would be flooded by the 7,200-acre reservoir. When Smithville Lake was filled in October 1979, the fish had been growing and multiplying for years and were prime for the hook.

The result was a fishing boom that most local anglers still recall as “awesome.” Their memories include 30-pound five-fish limits of bass, and stringers of huge crappie.

The high water of the  flood of 1993 killed most of the lake’s vegetation, and an unknown protozoan killed off the large bass.  Shad hatches declined because the whole food pyramid was upended.  Fish that fed on young shad grew slowly and the lake was in trouble.  Time and hard work by the Missouri Department of Conservation have helped to restore the fishery. Shad hatches have improved since about 2000 and 2005 was one of the best fishing years in memory, with anglers stringing plenty of 11- to 13-inch crappie and bass tournament winners logging in limits that averaged almost 4 pounds a fish.


Two main camping sites are available at Smithville Lake

Camp Branch Campground offers 362 sites for both tent an RV enthusiasts.  Many of the sites surround or are near the shoreline with easy access to walking trails.  There are 34 sites with electrical hookups.  Showers and laundry facilities are located in convenient areas around the campground.  All sites have a picnic table and fire ring with grill. 

Crow's Creek Campground

This site is the larger of the two and offers 415 camp sites, some that are designated for their equestrian campers.  82 sites have electric and water, and 111 sites have electric.  There is a playground located in the center of the campground.  Many of the sites are located along the shoreline with access to the walking trails.  There are laundry and shower facilities throughout the campground and each site has a picnic table and a fire ring with grill. 


Smithville Lake has a trail system made up of three types of trails.  26 mile of equestrian trails, 24 miles of 10' wide asphalt walking/biking trails, and 11 miles of mountain bike trails.  What a great place to enjoy brisk walk, or a nice bike ride for the whole family.