News Flash


Posted on: May 15, 2023

Series of Summer Nature Hikes to highlight history, birds, animals and plant life

Remants of Dornwood Dairy Barn

TOPEKA, KAN. – A series of 12 naturalist hikes and history programs will highlight everything from historical ruins to the 1966 Topeka tornado to plant and animal life along Shawnee County Parks + Recreation’s nature trails. Recreation Leader Devin Cooper of Shawnee North Community Center is a presenter and history buff. She will take participants through nature trails including historical ruins, wild prairie flowers, bird habitats, and animal and aquatic life. She’ll even share some of the darker history of Shawnee North Community Park.

PRE-REGISTRATION is required at Each walk has a $3 fee. All hikes are from 6:30-8 p.m. SCP+R has 60 miles of trails, nearly 30 of which are nature trails. The Tornado Talk at Skyline Park is free and begins at 7 p.m.

  • May 19 – Spring Exploration at Shawnee North Nature Trail: Explore plants and animals along the Shawnee North Nature Trail.
  • May 22 – Dairy exploration at Dornwood Park: Explore the ruins of the former dairy farm in Dornwood Park and hike for animal signs, amphibians and insects.
  • June 3 – National Hiking Day: Open-gate day at Skyline Park and Burnett’s Mound. 8:30 a.m. walk with Topeka Audubon Society. 11:30 a.m. walk focusing on the park’s plants and animals.
  • June 8 – Tornado Talk at Skyline Park: Learn about the F5 tornado that crested Burnett’s Mound and ran through Topeka in 1966. Talk begins at 7 p.m.
  • June 12 – Life in Westlake, Gage Park: Kids of all ages use guide books to study the bugs, snails and amphibians in the pond.
  • June 16 – Discovering Indian Creek at Shawnee North Community Park: Learn what animals call Indian Creek home. Use guide books to identify aquatic life.
  • July 14 – Over the Hill Shawnee North Park: Adults only program explores the grounds and missing buildings of the old farm as well as the darker history of bootleggers, grave robbers and the Topeka State Insane Asylum.
  • July 17 – Butterfly Walk at Ted Ensley Gardens at Lake Shawnee: Explore the butterflies using magnifying glasses, guide books and bug catching.
  • July 20 – Photo Walk at Ward-Meade Botanical Garden: Learn to improve your cell phone photography skills by spotting good photo opportunities and using good techniques for capturing the best photos.
  • July 21 – Wellness Walk at Shawnee North Community Park: The Shawnee North Fitness Loop Trail winds through lawn and grasslands. The walk will focus on bird watching and park history.
  • Aug. 14 – History along Soldier Creek at Garfield Park: Did you know that the Soldier Creek Trail passes by a former hospital, family cemetery and a historic park?
  • Aug. 18 – Conservation or Preservation, Shawnee North Community Park: It takes a lot to run a park! Learn about different types of parks and how they are used. Travel 
     1 ½ miles along the nature trail.


Shawnee County Parks + Recreation includes nearly 60 miles of trails, 2,696 acres of parks and 320 annual days of sporting activities. In addition, the department offers recreation programs, educational programs and golf. A combination of tax dollars, user fees and private donations enables Shawnee County Parks and Recreation to offer parks, sporting and aquatic facilities with state-of-the art features, and beautiful, nationally recognized gardens.

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