Saturday, October 29, 2016

Heatherstone Park

Heatherstone Park is probably well known to the families of children who attend the adjacent Heatherstone Elementary School, but if you don't know it's there, it could be hard to notice.

It's basically invisible when you're driving by on Pflumm to the east, it's bordered by a pocket of secluded gated houses on the south, a thick bunch of trees block your view of it even when you're in the school parking lot on the west, and there is a bunch of "no man's land" to the north.  You just have to know it's there, either by word of mouth, wandering down the path on the side of the school, or looking it up on something like Google Maps or the OPRD website.

So...does this qualify as a hidden treasure?  After a visit to the park via bicycle (coming up from the Indian Creek Trail, which runs past about half a block south), I'd say yes!

The first thing I found, riding my bike in from the Pflumm sidewalk, was the trail that goes around the park.  It features exercise stations, and winds along for about half a mile.

In the middle of the trail loop is an area that is allowed to grow kind of wild like the old prairie days, and there's also a strip of this in the "no man's land".

There is a shelter and a playground area, which I didn't photograph because other people's kids were there and I didn't want to seem creepy.

And there is also a pretty nice lake, with signs giving the rules about fishing.

All in all, this is a great park, with a number of nice features, which shouldn't be too crowded.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Arapaho Park (revisited)

Arapaho Park is a neighborhood park that we visited in the 2013 quest.  You can go have a look at that post to see a number of detals about the park, plus some photos I took at the time.  It's a pretty simple (but nice) park and there is not much to remark about.  For this post, I'll just add a few points.

1) The sign out in front of the park has much nicer landscaping now:

2) There was no sign of the "hideout" from the 2013 post.

3) Here is my track from Garmin Connect, which shows a way you can safely bike to Arapaho Park from the southern part of Olathe: click to view

Olathe Parks & Rec page on Arapaho Park

Mission Reboot

The quest to visit all of Olathe's parks in a year was fun, but my kids decided they weren't interested anymore after only getting to about six parks.  And life sort of got in the way.

I decided to see if I could start over with a little bit of a different mission.  I'm going to try to visit all the parks myself, and just to give it something unique, I'm going to see how many I can visit via bicycle.  Because in addition to the many great parks, Olathe (and Johnson County as a whole) has a lot of good biking trails, and a number of streets have bike lanes. we go!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Eastbrooke Park

We visited Eastbrooke Park a few days after a monsoon (more or less).  Technically we're still in a drought, but at this point you have to consider the whole previous year or more to see it.  We found lots of evidence of very high, fast-moving water in the park...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Eastbrooke Park is pretty much a neighborhood park, in that it's nestled in the middle of a subdivision and there's nowhere to park other than on the street.  However, it's also directly connected to the network of trails that runs throughout the county, so you could park somewhere else and get there via the trail.  There's an elementary school that would serve this purpose about half a mile south.  Here's a map view of the location, courtesy of the new-style Google Maps, which is helpfully highlighting how I'd get there from work.  Not sure why.  But thanks, Big G.

It's not a very large park if you don't count the whole trail network, but it is pretty nice. There's a shelter (first come first served) with unique architecture.  The gaps between the pillars are great for hide and seek if you can fit in there.

There's also a playground...

...a very informative sign that tells about the park, the surrounding area, and where it's located relative to the trails...

...and as I mentioned before, the trail and the creek it follows. Within the park border there are a couple of secret trails and neat bridges over the creek that are great for spotting tadpoles and maybe a little snake, or throwing rocks into the creek.  (I'm told by my daughters that nobody says "neat" anymore.  They will just have to deal with it.)

As I also mentioned before, we found signs that during the heavy rains in the past week, the water in the creek was REALLY high for a while.  Check out how much tall grass is lying flat near this bridge, and note the debris piled up around the bottom of the railing. The water actually flowed over the bridge and the trail.

Looking out over the stream from the bridge, you can see where the creek got so high and so fast, it started cutting corners and jumping directly across the bends.  It must have been something to see!  (from a safe distance!)

We had a great time at Eastbrooke Park, playing on the playground and looking at the creek and the surrounding foliage.  There are a whole bunch of honeysuckle bushes near the creek that will be blooming like mad in a few weeks.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Calamity Line Park

We have visited Calamity Line Park a couple of times, and I'm hoping we can go back again once spring is really upon us and trees and flowers are coming back to life (and we stop getting fake-outs back into winter weather).  It's located just a bit east of Santa Fe and K-7 (aka Parker):

View Larger Map

The park is named after Calamity Line, which was (actually the nickname of) a railroad line that went through this area.  This sign near the shelter tells about it.

The trail makes a loop around the park and even crosses the nearby CVS parking lot to another small grassy hill that is not, I believe, part of the park, but I used it in the run I did while we were there.

There's a playground,

a rose garden (which I'd like to see blooming later in the year),

a shelter styled to look like a train depot (pictures aren't that great since there was a family inside the shelter and I didn't want to intrude),

some daffodils coming up,

and over by the CVS, a gazebo and a sort of waterfall where the creek enters underground drainage.

It's a fairly nice park with a neat historic flavor that seems to get good use from local families and residents.  There's a small parking lot, which makes it easier to visit if you don't live nearby.  The trail meanders along for about half a mile as the sign says (more like 0.8 if you include the part west of CVS), has some gentle hills and valleys. and parallels the creek for a while.  The lamp posts along the trail have a nice old-timey look to them.  The shelter has a walkway styled like a train track that goes right through it, like a train station.  Hopefully later I can go back and get some photos of that and the roses in bloom.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Arrowhead Park

After visiting the small Arapaho Park, we decided to visit another in the same day (especially since we knew some heavy snow was due later in the day, which would put the quest on hold for a while).  So we went to Arrowhead Park.
The kids were getting tired when I took this photo, near the end of our time in the park.

Arrowhead Park is a long, narrow strip along Indian Creek and the Indian Creek Trail:

View Larger Map

The green shaded area in the map isn't really tall enough...the sign pictured above actually stands near the top of this map.  The smaller green chunk is a softball field.

Along the trail (which stretches several miles further south, and all the way to Missouri to the northeast), there are two cool arch bridges across the creek,

a playground area next to a picnic shelter,

a seating area near a water fountain,

and a port-a-potty (not pictured, but experimentally confirmed to be in working order).

While we were there, I realized I happened to be wearing my old running shoes (the pair before the ones I use now), and I'd been itching for a run since getting (mostly) over a nasty cough.  So I did a short run up and back the trail while the kids played, tracking my progress on the handy Garmin Fit app on my phone.

Click here to see the track, and here for the app.

We headed home after getting the requisite shot of the sign, and none too soon...within an hour, the front yard looked like this...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Arapaho Park

Arapaho Park is a small park at 12301 S. Arapaho Drive, probably more of a neighborhood park than a city park, but we went there anyway.

View Larger Map

 Just north of the park in the map is the Studio 30 movie theater.

Arapaho Park has a short walking trail (which probably helps kids from the east side get to the school just south of the west side), a park bench, and an open area for horsing around, as well as many trees for climbing.

There's also a stream going through, kind of obscured in the trees.  Some local kids built a sort of ramshackle hideout near it:

It's a small park, but we had a nice time exploring it.  The kids enjoyed running along the trail with the dog.  Even with the hideout, we only spent a fairly short time there, so we decided to visit another park before the weather turned snowy.  (Fourth day of spring, but heavy snow in the forecast...good ol' Kansas...)