Recreation and Camping
When the need to reconnect with nature hits, there is no better place than Miami County. Nearly a dozen lakes, more than 25 parks and almost 100 miles of trails spread across the county in urban and rural settings. Spend the day relaxing at the lake, on a horseback ride, hiking, skiing, fishing or playing disc-golf. Hitting refresh on your life is simple in Miami County.
Hillsdale Lake is the largest in the region and is surrounded by Hillsdale State Park. The lake spans more than 4,500 acres and offers ample opportunities for anglers, swimmers and boaters. In addition to fun on the water, the park allows for experiences ranging from hunting to hiking and picnicking. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent at the Scott Creek Campground from April through October. In the winter, the lake dam is a well-known spot for sledding. Horseback riders, bikers and hikers will particularly enjoy Saddle Ridge Campground which has 49 miles of marked trails. There are four different loops of trail systems, some of which boast lake views. Two additional smaller trails are also inside the park – one-and-a-half-mile Hidden Spring Nature Trail and State Park Trail which extends three miles. Hillsdale is also known as a nature observatory because of the vast wildlife – whitetail deer, bobwhite quail, rabbit, beaver, muskrat and various waterfowl.
The park also encompasses Jayhawk Marina, a full-size marina with covered docks, boat, cabin and slip rentals, as well as a full-service convenience and supplies store. Open year-round, the heated docks allow anglers to fish in frigid temps. The marina also sells licenses and permits on site, supplying a visitor’s one-stop shopping needs.
Located just outside of Hillsdale Lake State Park, S&S Stables offers private rides, riding lessons, group rides and mini or day camps. An indoor riding arena provides different challenges from games, obstacles, barrels and classroom space for teaching riders how to control a horse.
The area’s biggest splashes most likely take place at KC Watersports. This destination cable park is one of only a few in the nation. For beginners, they offer day camps and private lessons to develop the skills need to take on the rails, ramps and sliders. Spectators are welcome to watch from their shaded beach. An on-site surf shop is well stocked with the best gear in the industry and rental equipment available. KC Watersports plans seasonal special events including a movie night. Their indoor space is also available for rent during the offseason for special events.
An easy drive south to Osawatomie puts visitors at the Flint Hills Trail State Park. Originally developed by the Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, the trail repurposed the Missouri Pacific Railroad’s abandoned train lines. Traversing a massive 117 miles makes it the longest rail-trail in Kansas and one of the top 10 in the country. Designated as a state park in 2018, this trail offers ample opportunities for year-round biking, hiking, and horseback riding. Add some snow in the winter and the trail provides opportunities for cross-country snow skiing. Visitors to the trail can appreciate the stunning view of the Earth’s only remaining tallgrass prairie that is home to more than 200 species of birds.
Near Fontana, the Miami State Fishing Lake spans more than 100 acres. This well-stocked lake is full of largemouth bass, bluegill, channel crappie and white bass. A well-known spot for birders, loggerhead shrikes, grebes, great blue heron and bald eagles are regularly spotted.
Middle Creek State Fishing Lake is just south of Louisburg. Fishermen will marvel at the 281-acre lake stocked with channel catfish, crappie, saugeye, largemouth and white bass and waterfowl. On land, the 220 acres allow plenty of space to hunt and camp. Amenities include a double boat ramp, vault toilet, picnic tables and fire ring.
Off-Leash Dog Parks
Located just inside of Veterans Park in Spring Hill is Melvin Murray Dog Park. Established in 2020, the park features a fenced-in space for dogs to run and socialize as well as benches and restrooms. Melvin Murray Dog Park is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Lake Miola in Paola is home to the Paola Dog Park. The park features a ramp and tunnel, teeter-totter, shaded area, benches and water fountain for pets and owners. Large and small dogs will appreciate separate play areas. A volleyball court and beach for swimming are also available for patrons, but no pets are allowed. Pets can be on a leash in the grass area to the north of the beach. Visitors may choose to camp on the west side of the lake from April through October.
Golf and Disc Golf
The oldest private golf course in Miami County is Paola Country Club. Built in 1923, the nine-hole course offers members lots of amenities that include a swimming pool and clubhouse for dining.
Stretching more than 6,300 yards, Osawatomie Golf Course is the oldest public and second longest course in Miami County. Golf enthusiasts will enjoy the parkland golf course design of two distinct nines offering a unique and well-rounded game.
Located next to Spring Hill City Lake is the Sycamore Ridge Golf Club. Part of its charm is two golf courses in one – steep wooded hillsides, valleys, and streams on the front nine graduate to gently rolling, links-style on the back nine. PGA certified staffers can attest that Sycamore Ridge is one of the toughest public courses in the Midwest.
Lewis-Young Park just outside of Louisburg offers an 18-hole quick-play disc golf course. The course can be played as a 9-hole course by playing holes 1-5 and 15-18 or as a full 18-hole course.
The Hillsdale State Park area offers two different disc golf courses. The first, built by the Marine Corps of Engineers, offers 18-holes just outside of the state park. The second is located inside Hillsdale State Park near Watercraft Beach and consists of a nine-hole course.