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A three-mile section of a new trail at Smithville Lake was completed
recently, and I went out to explore it yesterday (8/12) between 1 and 2 pm. The trail
starts at the Camp Branch swim beach. Eventually it will connect Camp Branch
to Sail Boat Cove over seven miles.

I only walked the first 1.5 miles. The trail basically follows the shoreline.
The first .25-.5 mile skirts the Camp Branch campground and runs through open
fields (some mowed, some with taller grass and weeds). At the point where I
turned around, though, the trail runs right along the shoreline. It makes coves
accessible that once were not--or, at least, one had to be more creative to
get to them before. It is definitely worth checking out.

For the time being, the trail is all gravel (it is supposed to be paved next
year). It is not very well marked yet. There are several spurs that deviate
from the main trail and run toward the campgrounds or other access points, and
at times it's difficult to tell which trail is the main trail. I also had to
step out of the way of an SUV driving along the trail, so be careful until they
get more prominent "no motorized vehicles" signs posted.

Also, there are people manning the booths at the public use areas. Season
passes are $10.

The only real bird of note along the trail was an Osprey, which soared out of
sight somewhere over Sail Boat Cove area, I think. I haven't been out to
Smithville all summer, so I don't know if they have been around this season or
not. At the Camp Branch Marina, there were 20 Ring-billed Gulls and 10 Forster's
Terns hanging out.

Kristi Mayo
Kearney, MO (Clay Co.)
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