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Cottonmill Park and Recreation Area


category : Recreation
Cottonmill Park and Recreation Area From fishing to swimming, hiking in a native prairie or a tour of the Nature Barn, Cottonmill Park offers you a wide variety of recreational opportunities and a haven from the stress of the city. An attractive mix of rolling prairie, woodlands, marsh and lakeshore environments awaits visitors to Cottonmill Park. With facilities for picnicking, swimming, fishing, nature study and many natural and hard surface trails, Cottonmill Park is an ideal location for your outdoor activity and relaxation.

Cottonmill Lake - A central feature to Cottonmill Park is the 43 acre Cottonmill Lake. The lake was originally created in 1886, with the filling of the Kearney Canal and acted as a storage reservoir for generating power for the old cottonmill factory formerly located half mile south of the park. In 1998, Cottonmill lake underwent complete restoration specifically to create a top quality fishing lake. The lake was deepened, shorelines rebuilt, access improved and fish habitat created.

Fishing and Boating - Whether fishing from a boat or shore, both are popular and productive at Cottonmill Lake. The lake, which is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, channel catfish, and northern pike, offers excellent access to all anglers. Boaters can launch their boats at a modern concrete ramp while bank fisherman can try their luck from several earthen piers.

Swimming - Enjoy the sand beaches of the Cottonmill swimming area. Swimming is allowed from sunrise to sunset in the swimming lake only. NO LIFEGUARD WILL BE ON DUTY. Swimming in the main lake is not allowed for your health and safety.

Disc Golf - A disc (Frisbee) golf course is located on the East side of the park. The 2,263 foot, par 33 course meanders through cedar forest areas and along the lake shore. Disc golf is a growing sport that the whole family will enjoy.

Picnicking - Visitors can picnic at any of the scattered picnic sites throughout the park. Small shelters, grills, and water are available at some sites. The two large group shelters, a lodge, and the amphitheater may be reserved.

Trails - Hike/Bike Trail - This 3.1 mile hard surface trail parallels the Kearney Canal along its length to the University of Nebraska Kearney campus. The trail offers a scenic route for walkers, bicyclists, and skaters alike. Motorized vehicles are prohibited and the trail hours are from sunrise to sunset.

Prairie - The Oldfather Prairie Reserve is a 40 - acre natural area offering park visitors a chance to experience the native vegetation and wildlife of a Nebraska prairie. Two footpaths meander their way through the prairie with benches and small shelters conveniently placed along the path to rest or quietly observe the prairie landscape.

Nature Barn - The Cottonmill Nature Barn is home to many different animals and birds. A large fenced-in area allows visitors the chance to interact with and feed the animals. The Nature Barn also has educational and interpretive displays and a modern playground area. The barn is open afternoons and evenings during the summer and Saturdays in the spring and fall.

Winter Sports - When it snows, cross-country skiing on the park's many trails is popular as well as sledding on the Oldfather Prairie. When ice conditions permit, ice-skating is available at the swimming area and ice fishermen can try their luck on the main lake.


Hours: 7:00 am to 10:00 pm, Spring and Summer, 7:00 am to sunset, Fall and Winter
Address: 1 1/2 mile west of Kearney with the entrance off Cottonmill Avenue
Phone: 308-237-4644
Cottonmill Park is a day use area only - Group camping by reservation only.

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