Smithville Lake FAQ’s
Q: Where can I launch my kayak?
A: If you already have a Clay County Parks Annual Pass, you can launch at any of Clay County’s ramps. Other locations they can launch are Access points 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 18. Some people also park and launch from the bridges on W Hwy.
Q: Where can I fish?
A: You can fish anywhere from the shoreline with a fishing permit.
Q: Where can I swim?
A: There are two designated swim beaches at Little Platte Park and Camp Branch Park near Clay County Parks office. They are protected from boat traffic. People can swim at their own risk anywhere around the lake but should be aware of boat traffic, broken glass, and fishing lures that may be on the shoreline.
Q: Why doesn’t the America the Beautiful Pass work at Smithville Lake?
A: The America the Beautiful Pass only works at Federally operated areas. Smithville Lake is a cost-share lake meaning that the recreation areas are lease out and operated by the City of Smithville and Clay County Parks. Most of the KC District Lakes are Federally operated. The KC District Lakes that are not Federally operated are Smithville, Longview, Blue Springs, and Long Branch.
Q: Where do I get a pass?
A: What type of pass are you interested in? Clay County Parks sells annual park passes for their areas including the parks and boat ramps. They sell their passes at their office at Camp Branch 17201 Paradesian Rd Smithville, MO. Day use passes for Clay County Parks are sold at the park entrances and are good at all parks for the day.
America the Beautiful passes (Access pass for disabilities, Military or veteran pass, Senior annual/lifetime, and the Annual) are sold at the Jerry Litton Visitor Center and the Longview Lake office.
There is also a Corps Lake annual pass that is good for Corps operated boat ramps and day use areas.
Q: Where can I get a fishing permit?
A: Fishing permits are sold through the Missouri department of Conservation (MDC). They have an online app, or website that you can order from. Pricing can be found in the Fishing regulations booklet on page 4. There is a permit card available that will store all of your active permits on one place. It can be purchased on the MDC site (mdc.mo.gov/buypermits)
Q: Where can I find information on lake levels? Or Why is the lake so low/high?
A: Smithville Lake is primarily a Flood Control Lake. We regulate the lake levels according to our Water Control Manual in order to prevent flooding downstream. Smithville Lake is also a water supply lake and supplies the cities of Smithville, Trimble, Grayson, and Plattsburg with drinking water. Lake levels can be found on our website under “Daily Lake Info” https://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Locations/District-Lakes/Smithville-Lake/ or by calling our office line and using the automated system. You can also Google Smithville Lake and select the link that begins with “NWK”.
Where can I hunt around the lake?
A: You will need the Smithville Lake map which can be found at the Litton Visitor center, on our website, or at local gas stations. The tan-colored areas are designated public hunting areas.
Q: What permits do I need to hunt at Smithville Lake areas?
A: All Missouri Department of Conservation rules apply at Smithville Lake hunting areas. Note that the Honker Cove Waterfowl Refuge is closed to all hunting and boating from October 15-January 31 every year.
Q: How can I reserve a shelter?
A: The only shelter the Corps manages at Smithville Lake is the Overview Shelter located behind the Jerry Litton Visitor Center. It is reservable by contacting the Visitor Center staff. The City of Smithville manages the two shelters in the Smith’s Fork Park. Clay County Parks manages their 12 shelters within their parks.
Q: Is there free access to the trail system around Smithville Lake?
A: Yes. Trailheads located at Little Platte South, Little Platte North, Smoke and Davies, and Anita B. Gorman, the Litton Center trail, Lake Remote are all free to access.
Q: Where can I camp at Smithville Lake?
A: There are three campgrounds. Two (Camp Branch and Crows Creek) are managed by Clay County Parks (816)407-3400. The third, Smith’s Fork, is managed by the City of Smithville (816)532-1028.
Q: Can I bring my dog to the lake?
Dogs are allowed at Smithville Lake but must be leashed while in the park areas and on all trails. Dogs are not allowed on the swim beach for public health and safety.
Q: How do I register my boat/watercraft?
A: Visit dor. mo.gov/motor-vehicle/watercraft/
Q: What does the sign mean that says, “Notice: Area closed from 10pm to 6am except for permitted uses?”
A: To curb illegal activity, these areas are closed to the public during these times unless users are actively engaged in hunting or fishing and have a valid permit in their possession.