Any Questions: How many parks are there in Columbia?

Friday, May 16, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Have a question about goings-on around town? This is part of a project called "Any Questions?" that takes on community curiosities and tries to address them. Submit your questions to or by using the form below this story.

With temperatures rising, residents can finally leave winter behind and spend time enjoying outdoor activities in Columbia. Why not also partake of Columbia's parks? One reader wondered just how many parks and recreation areas the city had to offer.

Here is what we found: Columbia oversees 70 parks and almost 51 miles of trail, according to Parks and Recreation representative Tammy Miller. That means more than 13 percent of all land in Columbia is owned by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Because the list of parks is quite numerous, we decided to explore the largest and smallest parks in the city more in-depth below. To see the rest of the city's parks, take a look at the embedded graphic. To see a park's information, either scroll through the list on the left or click on the red pin. You can also find more information in the list of links at the bottom of the article.

The biggest park: Cosmo Park

Columbia's largest park is the Columbia Cosmopolitan Recreation Area, also known as Cosmo Park. At 533 acres, it could contain the entire nation of Monaco in addition to several NFL stadiums.

The park has more athletics fields than anywhere in Columbia, with a whopping 67 fields, diamonds and courts. There are 19 dedicated to soccer alone, as well as specific areas for football, softball and even horseshoes.

Cosmo Park also hosts the annual Show-Me State Games. An Olympic-style sports festival for all ages, the event is celebrating its 30th anniversary this summer. Teams from across the state participate in more than 40 different kinds of sports tournaments, including soccer, kickball and miniature golf.

The park also boasts Nickell and Antimi lakes, where, with a license, you can angle for catfish and bass with a catch-and-release policy for smaller fish. Rhett's Run Mountain Bike Trail allows you to ride more than 4 miles on a bumpy and scenic route around the L.A. Nickell Gold Course. There's also Bear Creek Nature Area, where dogs can be let off of their leashes.

The smallest park: It's a tie

The smallest park competition ends in a tie, with Sterling W. Wyatt Park and Downtown Optimist Park, both a half-acre each. 

Wyatt Park is essentially a roadside park with a parking lot and picnic tables. With a scenic view of the woods surrounding Hinkson Creek and close to MU, the park is ideal for a picnic or a rest stop during an urban hike.

Originally the property of Hickman High School, Downtown Optimist Park served as a community park where school clubs held activities and Christmas trees were sold. The property was redeveloped in 1990 with funding from the Columbia chapter of the Optimist Club, a group focused on youth activities. The area now has picnic tables, a playground and basketball half-court.

As for the various trails, the 51 miles do not include additional pathways such as the MKT Trail and the Hinkson Creek Trail, which are owned by Boone County and MU respectively. Combined, this totals 57.3 miles, more than two marathons in addition to the entire perimeter of MU.

More information

 Supervising editor is Shaina Cavazos.

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