Do you boat at a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake? Do you bike on a nearby trail? What else can you do?
Recreation opportunities at Corps lakes are plentiful. The obvious is water recreation, swimming, boating, sailing, fishing and more, but there are also several gems at Corps lakes that might be overlooked.
“Corps lakes offer more than just a body of water,” says Devin Holt, Pomme de Terre Lake park ranger. “At many lakes you will find public hunting grounds, trails, pollinator locations, trapshooting or ranges, campgrounds, playgrounds, ball fields and more.”
In the most recent years, Corps lakes have added new recreation trends to provide more opportunities for visitors. Some of those include playing a round of disc golf, geocaching, designated off-road driving trails and facilities to help enhance hunting skills.
Geocaching provides outdoor adventures using global positioning systems. Through online sites and applications, users can identify locations where treasures are hidden. Once found, players can swap out the prizes found in the container, sign the log book and check in online. While these treasures can be found at some Corps lakes, geocachers should check in at the visitor center before adding new treasures on government property.
Disc golf is an up and coming game. The courses are often nine or 18 holes and players toss a flying disc into a basket known as the target.
The Kansas City District currently has 16 disc golf courses at eight lake locations.
The Bloomington Disc Golf Course located at Clinton Lake in Lawrence, Kansas is one of the newest recreation opportunities for the Kansas City District.
“We established the Bloomington Course in 2015,” informs Kyle Broockerd, natural resource specialist at Clinton Lake. “This is the second Corps of Engineers disc golf course I’ve created initial plans for. After the initial phase, we worked with local partners to fine-tune pin placements.”
For this fine-tuning to make the game more challenging, Broockerd sought input from the Topeka Dawn to Dusk Disc Golf Club, specifically the president, Kent Bryan.
“Bloomington Disc Golf Course is viewed as one of the top courses in Kansas,” says Bryan. “The Dawn to Dusk Disc Club helped the Corps design the course and works to provide maintenance support. Proper upkeep, specifically mowing and limb cleanup, is vital for returning players.
The course consists of 18 basket holes each with four pin placements varying in difficulty. Maintenance is primarily covered by volunteers to trim branches and remove rocks or debris from the course year-round. During the prime recreation season, volunteers help with the upkeep by mowing and emptying trash cans.
“Disc golfers will travel long distances to play a particular course, just like some do for standard golf courses,” says Broockerd. “I believe it does increase the number of visitors to Clinton Lake, in addition to providing more diverse entertainment options for our campers who aren’t into hunting, boating or fishing.”
“The Corps has been great to work with on the Blooming Disc Golf Course and we look forward to many more years assisting the Corps with future efforts,” says Bryan.
While it is well known that off-road driving is prohibited on Corps property, some lakes provide unique opportunities for off-road enthusiasts in designated areas. Currently, off-road opportunities are available at Perry, Harlan County, Harry S. Truman, Kanopolis, Milford, Pomona, Rathbun and Tuttle Creek lakes.
Tuttle Creek Lake has one of the largest areas in the Kansas City District encompassing a 310 acre park open to both motorized and non-motorized vehicles. To continue improvements in this area, Tuttle Creek Lake recently received funds to help improve the shelter and picnic amenities.
Off-road enthusiasts should contact the Visitor Center for hours of operations, vehicles and size limitations, as well as applicable state and federal regulations.
Another unique recreation opportunity is a recently completed six-lane archery range at Pomme de Terre Lake near Hermitage, Missouri. The range is the only archery range in the area is free to use. It is handicapped accessible and has two designated lanes for school competitions. With a covered platform, users aim at targets ranging from 20 to 50 yards or 10 and 15 meters.
“In an effort to improve the diversity of recreational activities at Pomme de Terre, the range opened in the spring of 2016,” says Devin Holt, Pomme de Terre park ranger. “Since then, we have seen lots of use. Several local partners, along with a Corps Handshake Partnering Grant, made this range possible by providing supplies and materials or by volunteering work hours. We truly believe introducing this range allows the community to enjoy the outdoors and the sport of archery.”
For a full array of recreation opportunities at a Corps lake, visit the Visitor Center for detailed information and a map of the area. During the summer all Visitor Centers are open seven days a week.