Shawnee Mission Park is a widely diverse 1600 acres of fields, forest, and water encompassing an abundance of outdoor activities. The large amount of land encompasses activities such as paddle boat renting, frisbee golf near the baseball field and over seven miles of hiking and and biking trails for all levels, evenly spread out throughout the park.
One of Shawnee Mission Park’s most notable aspects is their “Off-Leash Area” section of the park, where dogs are allowed to roam free in an open field with a paved trail that leads down to the edge of the lake. Here, gravel meets the edge of the water and dogs who are brave enough venture into the water to retrieve a ball– seemingly, a dog person’s dreams. I’ll admit all that playing in the water can lead to a stinky ride home with a soggy dog.
Out on the water one might see paddle boarders in the summer and kids splashing around on the public beach across from the dam. In the winter months, the water itself is usually undisturbed except for the occasional line cast in by people with fishing permits.
For those wanting to enjoy the fresh air but without the water and mud, a space is designated for drone and plane flying. It provides a wide-open field for people to incorporate technology with a day at the park– without the hassle of avoiding trees.
If you’re looking to get away from the noise of people and drones, there is a plethora of trails to choose from. There are paved running, walking and biking trails, that are generally well-traveled and make for an easier walk. For those looking for a challenge, Shawnee Mission Park offers rocky, bumpy and narrow trails ranging from low difficulty all the way to seven mile hikes. While on these trails, one will pass patches of people but also experience moments when you are utterly alone in the scenic woods.
The park has signs and maps all around, informing people of trails and key locations such as the observation tower, closed right now for reconstruction. This was key in being able to not feel overwhelmed in such a big area. They also have numbers located on trail signs or their website to call to see if they will be open due to bad weather.
Anyone can find something to do in this 1600 acre park which is what makes it the most visited park in Kansas, according to Johnson County Park & Recreation District. As of now, I’m mentally preparing myself for the seven mile trail – my summer project.