It took Waltus Watkins nearly half a century to build his home estate and small community. Included in the 3,600 acres was an elegant home, three-story woolen mill, fruit-drying shed, smokehouse, brick kiln, sawmill, gristmill and acres of well tended orchards and croplands. A brick schoolhouse and church are also in the vicinity. Many of the original buildings have been restored, and livestock and plants re-introduced to create an 1870s farm. On weekends during summer months, the site's Living History Farm Program offers visitors the chance to watch an 1870s family live, work and play. Tours are given of the Watkins home and Watkins Woolen Mill. The mill is a National Historic Landmark and is the only 19th century textile mill in the county with its original machinery still intact. The visitor center offers an introduction to the Watkins family and their many business ventures. A bit of history can be combined with a day of outdoor fun. Williams Creek Lake offers opportunities for fishing and swimming. Encircling the lake is a 3.75-mile paved bicycle trail. Picnic sites and a picnic shelter offer a great place to rest or enjoy lunch. For overnight guests, the park offers nearly 100 wooded campsites.

Spent the afternoon at Watkins Mill Park. Beautiful late Fall day with temps in the upper 50’s. I brought my road bike and rode around the lake first. It’s about 4 miles and a pretty smooth ride on the asphalt trail. I then hiked the same trail on foot with a few stops to snap some pictures. This is a nice park including the lake with wild geese, a running stream and quite a bit of forest area. The beach is open in the summer, and there is a boat launch as well as picnic areas and restrooms. Spend some time to tour the old mill if you can too. Watkins Mill State Park is worth visiting many times.

I love coming to Watkins. I walk the trail a lot, camped here for the first time this past weekend and really loved it.

The only problem was noise level with tree trimming and mowing all in the same day...all day.

I will definitely camp there again, though.

Lovely walk. Great for shade in hot weather but also has a south end with fewer trees for cooler weather. One of our favorites.

nature trips
9 months ago

Today I visited the park in the evening. A friend of mine was with me, showing me the park. Unfortunately, on our way around the parks trails they had stepped through poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Red spots were appearing on their legs. The other party with me informed me that there were shower units available and we would be able to rinse the urushiol (the clear liquid in the sap that is the toxin) away.

After emerging from the shower I hear a quite rude and rough voice from about 30 feet away. "ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR A CAMPSITE OR ARE YOU JUST TAKING A SHOWER?" Yelled the voice, unnecessarily rudely. When I told him that I did not appreciate the way he was talking to me, I didn't do anything wrong. He proceeded to tell me that the showers were not free unless you were camping. There are no signs posted and the staff was missing except afterwords to verbally batter me.

He then claimed he used to work in a prison and that's why he acted the way he did. I would like to take a moment to highlight the fact that a person who is in charge of safety of people at a facility where children and families stay, is obviously mentally unstable. If his mind was working right he would not have verbally assaulted me as I walked out the shower door. After all this he didn't even try to apologize. Especially considering the fact he wasn't at his post to begin with, this is quite rude to imply that I was in the wrong.

Who sits outside of the shower and attacks people at a park? The person that works there. Possibly a sexual predator? THIS IS SCARY. I want real people working at my local park, not retired prison guards that have mental problems. The atmosphere needs a person who cares, not a person who thinks the world is out to get them. I am not impressed at all with my experiences here. I have even paid to camp here, but I did not today... nor will I ever again.

hiking
Saturday, February 11, 2017

walking
Saturday, October 29, 2016

Trail circles pond at park campground. Nice, mostly paved trail good for walking, jogging, easy cycling. Lots of wooded stretches, but will also take you past beach and picnic parking lots (bathrooms at beach lot.)

An easy multi use family trail, but you'll be there because you're camping and/or in the area to see the Mill.

hiking
Monday, May 30, 2016

I have done this the past few weekends. Great trails that are paved and mostly shaded, lots of wildlife and a friendly terrain.

hiking
Sunday, December 06, 2015

Enjoyed walking the paved trail around the lake, but went "off-road" a few times to add some challenge and variety. Crossed the shallow creek, climbed above the trail along a rocky crag, and followed an improved trail that led to a picnic area. With all of the leaves down, it was cool to see other parts of this large state park. If you have time, be sure to visit the historic home, mill, and visitors center.

hiking
Sunday, October 04, 2015

Easy trip from Kansas City. I had been here a few years ago but hiked a different part of the park, near the historic buildings. But this time, I hiked/walked the PAVED BICYCLE LAKE TRAIL and was delighted with the beauty and variety. I had my trusty hiking dog with me, and he enjoyed it, too. On a gorgeous early fall day, there were lots of trail users, incl families with strollers and many bicyclists. I'll definitely come back with my bike some time.
I wanted to end the trip by seeing the historic buildings, so I made my way to the Visitors Center, but was disappointed to learn that they had changed the rules and accessibility for bringing dogs (on a leash); they no longer allow dogs in that section of the park, which you access through the Visitors Center. I couldn't find a "sneaky" way around. Instead, we walked up the paved road along side the Visitors Center toward a youth camp, then called it a day.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Great loop trail, all paved, some wildlife, mostly shaded, very busy.

walking
Monday, November 03, 2014

Good place to go for a hike around a 4 mile paved trail. You can bike ride as well. It stays moderate for the number of people seen!

walking
Saturday, November 01, 2014

Good "get out and hike" trail. For a while we would visit weekly just for the walk and to get away! The trail is paved and goes around a lake with several wooden bridge crossings. Stays pretty busy for a trail. The views are nice and Missouri has season changes to offer. There is a little stream that has a drop, I wouldn't call it a waterfall, but still very nice, and you can go right up to it to get some pictures, sit for a while, or just about anything else. Along the trail there is an opening to swim at from Memorial Day through Labor Day every year. So, you could make a stop along the way if you wish too!

road biking
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This was a nice easy paved trail that circled the lake. Saw a lot of walkers and bikers.

hiking
Saturday, October 05, 2013

Nice paved trail, frequent views of the lake, off-trails will lead you to some rock and water, lots of resting benches and a few restrooms along the trail.

hiking
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nice paved trail. Was very busy. Went there in June. Nice stream to stop at. Easy walk at the park. Not secluded. Hard to find peace. Still worth the short drive there. Better for families and young children who maybe want to bike it.

hiking
Wednesday, August 01, 2012

I would rate this 5 stars but it's only 3.8 miles. Everything else about this trail is wonderful. I saw tons of wildlife and startled a deer that was standing on the trail. You have a nice view of the lake through about 3/4 of the hike. I would recommend parking at the swimming beach where there is more traffic instead of parking on a very isolated spot on the lake. That way the park rangers can actually see your vehicle. Can't wait to do this one again since its only 5 miles from my house. Thanks, Mike

trail running
Thursday, June 28, 2012

Have run this paved trail literally 50+ times over the last decade. Its a flat fast run, mostly shaded, very quiet, with a good balance of not being crowded and not being completely alone. For more adventurous runners or hikers, on the back side of the loop there is a terraced path up a hill to where the BoyScouts often camp. This path up the hill can be used to either add complexity or elevation to a run, or to also access a paved road that runs behind Watkins Mill park, to add additional mileage. Great trail; a family favorite of multiple generations. Thanks Buddy.

hiking
Monday, June 11, 2012

Did this trail several years ago with the scouts while visiting the historic mill. nice stroll, better with a bicycle. The state park has a nice for fee campground from primitive to RV.

hiking
Thursday, June 07, 2012

I grew up walking and biking around Watkins Mill. Now, as my wife and I decided to get into hiking, it was our first hike as well. This is a great multi-use trail for a beginner, or just someone looking to get out and enjoy a great day. There's plenty of wildlife to be seen, and as with all of Missouri's State Parks, there are a lot of other things to enjoy as well.

There's little elevation gain, and the trail is completely paved, so it's a very easy trail, but there's still some scenery, such as a small falls, and views of the lake, to make it interesting. There is a high possibility of wildlife sightings, too. I don't think I've ever been to the park without seeing lots of birds, deer, and other wildlife.

hiking
2 months ago

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