Trails crisscross Topeka and Shawnee County giving many options to runners, bikers, walkers and skaters to enjoy exercising and recreational time outdoors. The Shunga Trail within the city limits and the Lake Shawnee Trail around Lake Shawnee in southeast part of the community offer paved paths attractive year around for outdoor enthusiasts. The Kaw River State Park, the first urban state park in Kansas, opened in September 2010 and offers additional outdoor recreation opportunities including access to the Kansas River.
Topeka’s Shunga Trail is a paved recreational trail for walking, jogging, skating and biking, running from the northeast corner of Topeka to the southwest corner. Much of the trail passes through City parks, allowing for additional recreational activities for the entire family. Although the trail is not totally complete, two large sections are open to the public. The Shunga Trail, near the Oakland Community Center and the Oakland Pool, begins at Oakland Billard Park at Sardou and Poplar streets and runs to Santa Fe Park, a distance of 1.3 miles. The Shunga Trail runs from Crestview Park, near the Crestview Community Center and the Crestview Pool, east to the Kansas Expocentre and on to SE Tenth Avenue, approximately 7.5 miles. In the future the two sections will be connected, enabling users to traverse the entire city.
The Lake Shawnee Trail opened in 2006 and winds nearly seven miles around the lake, often running alongside the water and sometimes crossing over it on specially constructed bridges. The trail takes walkers and riders past the Lake Shawnee Golf Course, the Ensley Botanical Gardens and recreational sites such as ball diamonds, the yacht club, boating docks and more.
Landon Trail is being developed on the former MoPac rail line that was rail banked when it was no longer used by the railroad. The existing ballast of the rail line is currently used as the surface for the trail. Once fully developed, this trail will be a primary north/south trail in Topeka.
Warren Nature Area at 25th and SW Gage (south of the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and Kansas Neurological Institute) includes over two miles of grass trails through this wetland environment, one of the premier bird watching areas of Topeka. A large section of the Shunga Trail runs through this area, allowing access to hikers, bikers, skaters, etc. Enter through the Felker Park parking lot at SW 25th and Gage Streets.
The Dornwood Trail at SE 25th and Highland has two miles of unpaved bark-chipped hiking trails through forest, abandoned rock quarry, stream side and tallgrass prairie. Enter from SE 25th Street.
Grant Park at SW 65th and Baker Drive is a native prairie (never been plowed) which is loaded with wild flowers during June. A trail is mowed around the edge of the park with many bird boxes. Walking throughout the area is encouraged. Enter from University Avenue.
Welton Grove Park at SW 39th and Cambridge is a 45-acre natural area with mowed trails. This park is part of a storm water detention area. There is a small creek that winds through the wooded site. Enter at Atwood or Atwood Terr.
Clarion Park at SW 37th and Fairlawn contains an unpaved natural trail that goes around the pond through one of the largest stands of Red Cedar on public property. This gives the visitor a feeling of being in a national forest, as there is little wind or sunlight.
Skyline Park at 3511 SW Skyline Parkway features Burnett’s Mound, the highest elevation in Topeka, where visitors can overlook the entire city. The surrounding area is being encouraged to return to native grass by spring burning. There are unpaved trails in the southern part of the park.
MacLennan State Park at First Street and SW Fairlawn borders the Kansas River on its north side. The park’s extensive dirt trails traverse miles of mostly oak forest and prairie meadows, as well as several ponds, and contain abundant deer, birds and other wildlife. Enter through the Cedar Crest (Governor’s Residence) parking lot.
Kaw River State Park opened in September 2010 and is the only urban park in the state park system. The property, acquired by donation in 2005, presently consists of 76 acres of land on the south bank of the Kansas River in west Topeka. The area is mostly hardwood forest overlooking the Kansas (Kaw) River, and is adjacent to MacLennan Park and Cedar Crest (the Kansas Governor’s residence) to the east. The Kansas Wildlife & Parks Region 2 Office is also adjacent to the park property. Additional property west of the Region Office building will also include public access for trails. Enter from Sixth Avenue west of Fairlawn.