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Lake Olathe: Everything you need to know for a great day

Lake Olathe is one of the best destinations in the Kansas City metro for anyone looking to explore and get outdoors. There is so much here for families to explore including a swim beach, a waterfall you can paddle or walk to, fishing, boating, hiking, biking, a venue, disc golf, and a nature playground. Make a plan to visit this amazing spot and keep reading to find all the best places at this beautiful and unique lake.

a crane flying over water at Lake Olathe

Lake Olathe Swim Beach and Marina

The Lake Olathe swim beach is a fun activity for families! You can easily spend all day here. The beach has a sandy area, a floating inflatable obstacle course, outdoor showers, lockers, concessions, and kayaks to rent.

Inflatable obstacle course at Lake Olathe Beach

The Lake Olathe Swim Beach is open seasonally the weekend of Memorial Day in May through the weekend of Labor Day in September Thursdays through Sundays from 11am to 6 pm.  Admission to the beach is $10 for residents and $12 for non-residents. Three and under is free. 

There is an inflatable Aquapark to play on. It has slides, ramps, and obstacle course-like features. You must be 48 inches tall to play on the Aquapark. It is $10 per person per hour with the beach admission. 

You can rent canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boats, and pedal boats from the marina. It is $5 per half hour with the beach admission. 

You can buy a splash pass for admission for all summer long to Lake Olathe Swim Beach, Black Bob Bay, Frontier Pool, Mill Creek Pool, and Oregon Trail Pool for $55 per person. Or you can buy a Pogo Pass, which will get you into 25 different area attractions for a year, including a ticket to Lake Olathe Swim Beach. Use code OUTDOOR for 50% off all your passes. 

A child playing in a creek at Lake Olathe Splash Pad

Lake Olathe Splash Pad

Lake Olathe Sprayground is so much more than a traditional splash pad. There is a waterfall, swimming area, man-made natural looking creek weaving down a hillside and a sandpit play area. 

This is one of the coolest places in the Kansas City metro for families with young kids. I recommend this splash pad for elementary-aged kids and younger, but I have seen adults and teens enjoying themselves too. Unlike the beach, the Lake Olathe Spray Ground is free. 

A girl smiling in front of the sand pit at Lake Olathe

The splash pad is open May 1 through October 1 each year. There is a large grassy area to lay out your picnic blankets and a few picnic tables. There are some large trees that provide some shade, but expect to mostly be in the sun. You could easily spend a few hours here or the whole day. I recommend packing a lunch and staying all day. It is busiest in the morning, so go in the afternoon if you prefer less crowded spaces. 

Kids swimming in front of a waterfall in Lake Olathe

Cedar Creek Falls

Cedar Creek Falls is a waterfall on the south tip of Lake Olathe. You can kayak close to the falls or walk to the falls. If you’d like to walk to the falls you can park in a lot that is east of a bridge on 143rd Street and S Wardcliff Drive. There is a gravel road with a picnic area you can park at. Take the paved trail leading west, down the hill and under the bridge. Once you’re under the bridge you can see Cedar Creek Falls.

a woman paddling in a kayak in front of Cedar Creek Waterfall at Lake Olathe

If you’d like to paddle to the falls, you can park at the Lake Olathe Fishing Pavillion and rent a self-service kayak using the app Rent Fun. Paddle south, under the bridge and you will see the falls. If you’d like to explore more waterfalls in the Kansas City metro area, including another in Olathe, then check out the 6 Best Waterfalls in Kansas City.

Cedar Creek Waterfall partially frozen in the snow at Lake Olathe

Hiking Trails

There are 4-miles of trails at Lake Olathe. The trails listed below are all paved, but there are also some unmarked offshoots throughout the park if you’d like to explore and find unpaved trails. 

Olathe Lake Loop is a 1.3-mile paved trail that starts near Beaver Shelter and goes south. It is an easy loop. If you’d like to go a little further, you can follow the trail northeast toward West Santa Fe. There is a path that connects the road to the shelter. 

Cedar Creek Trail is a 1.8-mile trail out and back (3.6 miles total). Park at the same location you would to walk to Cedar Creek Falls– park in a lot that is east of a bridge on 143rd Street and S Wardcliff Drive. Follow the paved path down the hill, under the bridge, and past the waterfall into the woods.

A man paddling in an inflatable canoe with kids on Lake Olathe

Boating

Boats, kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards can be used on Lake Olathe. There is a boat ramp on the west side of the lake. Motor boats cannot exceed 5 miles per hour and jet skis, waterskiing, kneeboarding, and surfboarding are prohibited. 

Be sure to check that your watercraft adheres to all of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks requirements for safety and registration.

A fishing dock and park of a shaded pavilion at Lake Olathe

Fishing Pavilion

You can fish at Lake Olathe, but you need to get a fishing license. Lake Olathe has lots of types of fish including bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, saugeye, wiper and white crappie. There is a shaded fishing pavilion, so anglers do not have to sit in the direct sun.

A cage with kayaks inside for self-service kayak rental at Lake Olathe

Self-Service Kayak Rental

Near the fishing pavilion there is a large metal box with kayaks in it. These are self-service rental kayaks so you can paddle any time without having to go to the swim beach and marina. You can rent the kayaks using the app Rent Fun. I saw multiple people using this service and it seemed straightforward and easy to use.

A big slide at the Nature Playground at Lake Olathe

Beaver Shelter with Nature Playground

The Nature Playground at Beaver Creek is a fun outdoor-themed play space. There is a splash creek, zip line, small cave, climbing area, and meadow maze for kids to play on. My kids loved all the climbing ropes and a tall slide. The natural theme is cute and makes this playground unique. There is a large shelter near the playground and a .2-mile loop around the park.

Nature playground at Lake Olathe

Lakeside Disc Golf Course

There is an 18-hole disc golf course near the Lake Olathe Fishing Pavilion. This is a technical course with elevation change through forest and prairies overlooking Lake Olathe.

Eagles Landing at Lake Olathe Venue

There is a beautiful venue overlooking the lake. If you’re looking for a place to rent for an event this is a beautiful spot. The space accommodates up to 192 people, has a projector, Bluetooth, two dressing rooms, a catering kitchen, and a large deck overlooking the lake. 

If you are looking for more things to do in Olathe or other day trip ideas, check 10 Best Day Trips from Kansas City. 

Have you been to Lake Olathe? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!

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