Walking path

Skyline

SW Skyline Parkway & SW Scenic Drive, Topeka

If you can avoid the bone-jarring craters on SW Scenic Drive (hint: stick to the edges), and you're willing to walk a ways uphill on gravel and climb over some weed-covered boulders, this park offers a spectacular view of Topeka from the top of Burnett's Mound. But beware if a storm approaches: The mound failed to protect Topeka -- as legend claimed it would -- from the June 8, 1966, tornado that roared over its crest before cutting a swath through the city to the northeast.



Shunga Glen

2400 SW Washburn, Topeka

Located on the east side of Washburn Avenue from SW 22nd to Shunga Drive and east to Buchanan, Shunganunga Creek gives this large park a split personality.

On the sunny west side of the creek along Washburn is the Rip-On Skate Park for skateboarders, in-line skaters and bicyclers. This 9,310-square-foot concrete non-lighted facility features two pyramids, ramps, quarter pipes, grind rails, bank-to-bank ramps and a bowl. There's also a soccer field, some playground equipment, part of the Shunga Trail and a water fountain.



Shimer

2001 S Kansas, Topeka

This small, triangular-shaped park created by the Shunganunga Creek slicing across the corner of 20th and S. Kansas has a few swings, a picnic table and a BBQ grill -- and a stretch of the Shunga Trail.



Santa Fe

1500 NE Division, Topeka

Santa Fe Park, in the Oakland area, features plenty of colorful playground equipment to keep youngsters busy while softball games are played at nearby fields. Located northeast of Division and Lime, Santa Fe Park sits near the Kansas River. The colorful play area features swings for children and toddlers, slides, climbing toys and a tire swing. There's space for picnicking and lots of shade over and near the main play areas. A smaller play area between the fields allows parents to keep watch of little ones during games.



Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site

124 NW Fillmore, Topeka

Whether it's rediscovering the past, a soothing garden walk or a wedding site you're after, this compact park offers a unique variety of amenities. Anchored by an elegant Southern-style mansion built by Anthony Ward and passed down to his daughter, Jennie Meade, the park features a 2.5-acre botanical garden. The wheelchair-accessible garden contains a wide variety of trees, shrubs and plants, a gazebo and several water features. The mansion, which includes the Preston Hale Reception Room, and garden are used for weddings, meetings and dinners.



Betty Phillips Park

3300 SE Irvingham, Topeka

If you love this park you won't have to look far to find someone to thank. Students at nearby Avondale East Elementary School helped design the neighborhood park, which used to go by the name Highland Crest Park. It was renamed to honor longtime Hi-Crest resident Betty Phillips, who had begun asking the city to do something with the park in the 1960s. The park got a big student-influenced overhaul in 2004.



Freedom Valley

SE 14th and Locust, Topeka

From Freedom Valley you can hear the traffic zoom by on bordering Interstate 70. Yet, there's something serene and calming about this neighborhood oasis. Parking for the park sits off 14th Street between Locust and Illinois. To the south, trees and foliage block the view of the interstate -- at least during the summer when the branches are thick with leaves. The park also features some shady trees, but it has plenty of open, sunny stretches, where kite fliers can soar free of entanglement worries. At the bottom of the sloping park, a small fishing pond with a dock beckons.



Dornwood

2500 SE Highland, Topeka

Dornwood sits just a few blocks east of Highland Park High School. The centerpiece of the park is its lighted ball fields, which include a concession stand. For youngsters, the park also has bright, modern red and green play equipment. The park also has a two-mile wooded hiking trail. The trail moves from prairie to hardwood forest. Guided tours available.



Brookfield

2430 SW Kingsrow Road, Topeka

This newer neighborhood park located a few blocks east of Cypress Ridge Golf Course is deceptively versatile. There's modern playground equipment (on a rubberized surface) for the youngsters and a tennis/basketball court for more mature athletes. An open-air shelter covers three picnic tables and a walking path winds around the park for those wanting exercise for themselves or the dog or both. Plus there's a water fountain.



Big Shunga

SW Murrow Ct. and SW Shunga , Topeka

Big Shunga is exactly what the name indicates: BIG. You might enter the 95-acre park at Washburn and Shunga Drive, but you could also spot it again off 29th Street. Big Shunga is part of the park system that ties into the Shunga Trail. Near the concrete trail, the park is shady and tree-lined. Memorial benches provide a place to stop, catch your breath during a run or bike ride, and listen to birds tweet from the nearby trees. Rehydrate at a fountain. At Shunga and High a playground area features play equipment and a merry-go-round.



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