Explore the most popular trails near Excelsior Springs with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Excelsior Springs, Missouri Map

Yoga hike ❤️

Great trail, great scenery, easy to walk. Nice view of the lake.

road biking
7 months ago

Another Great Missouri State Park. it has so much to offer, we take visiting family members and friends out to see this place and try to schedule a tour of the mill, along with forcing the to either ride bikes around the lake or a nice walk around it. just long enough to get everyone breathing in some fresh air. However i stayed the night one night back in July of 2017, and I was sitting on picnic table having a snack and i had a fire in the pit, when all of the sudden I heard what sounded like a bobcat scream, when I jumped up to see just what the heck just happened. and it was two raccoons fighting just on the other side of the picnic table in was trying to have a snack. I was sleeping in a tent that night also. I couldn't hardly sleep there were raccoons creeping around all night. Then morning rolled around and i was gathering stuff to pack up, there was one in the bed of my truck and had been chewing on my cooler, trying to rip me off, then he was reluctant to get out. I had sprayed insect repellent around when I first got there. I would have thought that would kinda keep those guys away to. Nope.

8 months ago

Clean maintained concrete path trail. very easy, very fun! Great for families, dogs, and joggers.

I enjoy this trail. If you want a trail that's easy to follow, this one is not for you. It is nice and quiet, not overcrowded with people, so if you're looking for seclusion during your hike, this is a great place to go!

11 months ago

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.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

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.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

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

Trail is not marked, we walked on the access for a while and wound up in the marsh area without seeing any markings or blazes. We backed out and drove to the observation deck which was our goal anyway. The view from the deck was nice.

nature trips
Thursday, May 11, 2017

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.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

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.

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.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The trail was so overgrown, it could not be found. :(

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Took a trail head at the edge of the tree line it quickly disappeared, so we said screw it and scaled the side of the cliff hill. Great view. Found trail at the top easily. A lot of squatter trash at the top :( we will go back sometime this year and try to find the full trail. It's a nice area try to be open minded about it.

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.

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.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Tried this trail from the top and also from the bottom. Suceded in losing the trail both ways. Love this area though! Beautiful views from the rocky bluffs in the early Spring and late fall. And the valley comes so much to life will hundreds of wildflowers in the Springtime.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

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

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!

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.

Friday, December 27, 2013

It had been approximately nine years since the last time I had been to Cooley Lake and after hiking it again I remember why.
I started at the southern trail head, by the lake, and hiked in on the tractor road between the corn fields. This part of the trail is easy going but lacks any marking on when to turn into the woods. When I found the entrance into the woods the trail quickly disappeared and I was just wandering around trying to find the trail. My goal was to find the viewing tower but ended up having to go to the north boundary road to make it to the tower. I picked up the trail after leaving the tower but quickly lost it again so I went back to the north trail head and headed in again. The north trail head was easier to follow for a short distance but I lost it again and decided to just off road it back to tractor road.

Overall very hilly and brushy, I'm still picking stickers out of my hiking pants.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Cooley Lake Trail is practically in my backyard, so I was anxious to hike it. We started at the North end of the lake, and the service road that makes up the trail is wide and well taken care of. When you enter the forest at the base of the ridge, however, things change. The trail is narrow and hard to find in some places. After hiking over the bottom part of the ridge and working our way up the side (no small feat, the trail is pretty steep up the ridge), we managed to lose the trail that heads west to the observation tower. The trail east that completes the loop is evident, however. Not to be detoured, we hiked up to Ridge Road and went west until we hit the observation tower. The views from the observation tower are wonderful.

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.

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