Topeka’s Natural Attractions

Shawnee Lake

If you want to get out and see some of Kansas’ great outdoors than a stay in Topeka will put you in easy distance of some great sights. Anyone looking to experience some beautiful scenery and give themselves a gentle bit of exercise should definitely look into taking a stroll along the Kansas Historical Society’s Nature Trail.

The trail, which is situated in western Topeka consists of four different sections. The eastern section is made up of a 2.5 mile long circuit which takes in creeks, grasslands and woodlands. As you walk along you’ll come across signs imparting interesting facts both about the natural history and the cultural significance of the sights you’ll see on the way. On the north trail you’ll pass through more woodland, whilst the south will take you down to the charming Stach School, a one room building of historical interest where you can see just how far education has come in the last couple of hundred years. The path to the west will take you over a series of bridges, including the Wea Creek Bridge, which is one of the only bridges featuring a Bowstring Arch Truss design still in use today. (The faint of heart should probably also be aware that one of the three bridges is of the rope variety, but don’t worry, it’s a lot safer than the ones you’ve seen in adventure movies!).

There’s some great wildlife in the area that you might be lucky enough to catch sight of whilst out on the trail. In the prairie and alongside the banks of the creek you could spot a number of smaller animals as well as larger mammals such as the white tailed deer. If you’ve got an ornithological streak, keep an eye out for meadowlarks and red-tailed hawks. You might even see a wild turkey roving about.

Another prime spot you should drop in on is Shawnee Lake. There are a range of places there in which to relax and it makes an ideal setting for a picnic. There’s a swimming beach as well as facilities for organised sports if you’d like to indulge in a game of tennis or volleyball. If you’d like to appreciate the view from the water head down to the marina and take a boat out or, if you have the requisite skills, you could go windsurfing.

If you really want to get out on the water and enjoy yourself, try kayaking or canoeing down the Kansas River. At the Kaw River State Park, as well as enjoying a variety of hikes and mountain bike rides you can take through the 76 acres of forested woodland, you can gain access to the river and enjoy floating downstream at your leisure. (Naturally, this should only be done if you are competent on the water or are being supervised.)

Another great site for a hike is Perry Lake, which boasts the Perry Lake National Recreation Hiking Trail; 30 miles of rugged terrain with an abundance of wildlife waiting to be spotted including (if you’re lucky) the occasional bald eagle!

Image courtesy of kswx_29 on Flickr

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