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.
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.
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.
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.
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!