One of the best advantages to living in a town of Lawrence's size is that anyone can walk anywhere. One of the side effects of our fast-paced age is that no one wants to walk anywhere. Walking, instead, had become a specific activity for many Americans. Here are the best places to walk around Lawrence.
Walking can be both an end and a means - to be enjoyed for its own benefit, or as a way of enjoying what you see on the way.
If exercise and the great outdoors are your goal, you can take advantage of the more than 50 miles' worth of paths and trails, both in established parks and carved along roadways.
Walking paths are part of nearly every park in town, including Quail Run Park (12th Street near Wakarusa), "Dad" Perry Park (Harvard Road and Monterey Way), Centennial Park (Rockledge Road between 6th and 9th Streets), Naismith Valley Park (Naismith Drive south of 23rd Street) and even a one-mile stretch of old Santa Fe Railway converted to a walking path running along the eastern edge of Haskell's campus (enter on 29th Street just west of Haskell Ave.).
A fitness course is located at Edgewood Park for those needing a little more aggressive exercise. This facility, by the East Lawrence Rec Center, 1245 E 15th Street, also boasts a BMX track.
If you want a little education to go with your exercise, head out to the Prarie Park Nature Center on 27th Street east of Haskell. Sitting on a 72-acre preserve, Prarie Park not only has signs along its paths detailing the flora and fauna, but also has an education building. Inside this display hall are a wide variety of Kansas animals to see up close, and observation areas to watch the great outdoors in air-conditioned comfort.
The Center also provides educational programs and field trips to the public, schools and local groups. Call them at 832-7980 to set up a visit.
If you really want to get around town, then try tackling the paved ten-mile path following the South Lawrence Trafficway from the "bridge to nowhere" through Clinton Lake Park, all the way up to the Lecompton I-70 interchange. To make the task a little simpler, rent a bike for $2/hour from the Holiday Inn Express on south Iowa. They are right by the trail head, and you can even park there. Call them at 749-7555.
- Community Building, 115 W 11th Street
- East Lawrence Rec Center, 1245 E 15th Street
- Holcom Park Rec Center, 2700 W 27th Street
- Lawrence Union Pacific Depot (Visitors Center), 402 N 2nd Street - *get the self-guided historical tour information here
- or call 832-3450
- online at: Parks and Rec home page
By far, the most rugged paths in town are in Riverfront Park in North Lawrence. The easy way is to explore the levy and follow the river. To really test yourself, go east from the 8th and Oak Streets trail head to get to the mountain bike paths. Those trails are rated by the National Off-Road Mountain Biking Association.
Self-guided walking tours
The Lawrence Visitors Bureau has planned and published three different historical self-guided tours through downtown Lawrence. The maps available at the Lawrence Visitors Center (the old train depot just north of the Mass. Street bridge: 865-4499) also come with all the information you will need to catch a piece of Lawrence history.
The beginning and end of "Quantrill's Raid: The Lawrence Massacre" take place away from downtown, but stops two through 12 follow the raiders from South Park to the Eldridge Hotel, and across to Old West Lawrence.
The guide pamphlet not only gives detailed directions, but also retells the step-by-step history of this most infamous of Lawrence's tales. On this tour you will discover things like the only downtown structure still in existence to survive the ordeal, and places where many of the townsfolk hid - or were shot down.
For a less sanguinary trip through town, try the "House Styles of Old West Lawrence." Covering much of the same ground, this tour describes and illustrates 17 different architectural styles.
Listed with a walking time of 45 minutes (25 minutes in a car), the route identifies the style of every house you will see, and details the specific history of nearly 40 historic homes.
The "Historic Cemeteries Tour of Lawrence" is perhaps best tackled by car, but each individual stop offers an opportunity to walk through a different aspect of Lawrence's past.
The first three stops are brief, but interesting. The Davis Cemetery, 3536 W. 6th Street, was once part of the California Trail, and later the family burial grounds of one of Lawrence's first settlers.
Pioneer Cemetery, on the KU campus (Irving Hill Road, behind the Lied Center), was where most of the Quantrill's Raid victims were first buried.
Haskell Children's Cemetery was exclusively for Native American children attending the Haskell Indian Training School. According to the map pamphlet, children representing 37 tribes from all over the state are buried there.
Go West on 15th Street to find both Memorial Park and Oak Hill Cemeteries. The former is Lawrence's newest cemetery but has plenty of its own history. The most prominent burial in this privately-owned memorial park is the inventor of basketball, James Naismith.
The largest cemetery in town is Oak Hill. This massive park can be a day trip in itself. Divided into 14 sections (a separate map is included on the pamphlet), and spread across picturesque rolling hills, this area is the final resting place for most of the Quantrill's Raid victims. Interesting memorials and plots here belong to, among others, Kansas' first senator, the Haskell family and Dr. F. C. Phog Allen.
So whether you and yours are walking for fun, exercise or education, you can find many miles worth your while in and around Lawrence.
Next week: gone to the dogs.