Read our interview with Charlie Barr, who serves as director for Clay County Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites--home to Smithville Lake, the largest body of water for recreation in the Kansas City area.

Q: What makes Kansas City’s county parks unique?
A: The recreational opportunities. Utilize the area’s beaches, picnic areas, boat ramps and specialized ramps for sailboats, as well as a fish habitat.

Q: What are Kansas City’s best-kept county parks secrets?
A: The trail system around Smithville Lake with 23 miles of trail on the eastside—that’s a lot of continuous trail. Also, there are at least 27 miles of equestrian trails.

Q: What’s your insider-tip for someone visiting Kansas City’s county parks?
A: Fishing is generally good at the Crows Creek boat ramp, either off shore or in a boat. You can catch crappie, wide mouth bass, white bass, walleye, drum, and blue and channel catfish.

Q: What do you love best about Kansas City?
A: The lack of confinement. Kansas City is very open, even in rush hour. I’m from St. Louis and travel to Chicago and New York. We don’t know what rush hour is here.

Q: If you only had three places to take a visitor, where would you take them?
A: We’d hike along the trails at Smithville Lake to enjoy the country, then Union Station for the architecture and history. We’d finish at Nick and Jake’s in Parkville with pork and smothered cabbage.

Parks and Lakes in KC

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