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):

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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:

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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.

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 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...)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cedar Lake Park

We visited Cedar Lake Park on a windy February day.  It wasn't too cold, so we stayed for about an hour.

View Larger Map 

Cedar Lake is a 75 acre lake surrounded by a 54 acre community park originally dedicated in 1920.  It was created by damming Cedar Creek, and served as Olathe's primary water supply.  From September 1953 until March of 1954, for 17 months, a severe drought in Olathe forced water to be brought to the city by rail or truck. Olathe’s primary source of water had become not more than a bed of silt. In September of 1953, Olathe put forth plans for building a new and larger water source for the city.  This was Lake Olathe, which we haven't visited yet.  (Source)

As the map shows, the park is located at about 159th and Lone Elm.  When it was first built, this must have been way out in the boonies.  It's still pretty much the southwest tip of Olathe.

As it's one of the oldest parks in town, it's not terribly modern in its styling or amenities.  It does have some recent playground equipment, but I'm pretty sure the three shelters date back to the old days.  At least one of the shelters has a number of heart-shaped rocks worked into its construction.  (I didn't get a picture of that...maybe I'll go back for some later.)

Near the dam is a fishing area.  You can actually walk out across the dam, although if the water is lapping over it (as it apparently often does), the algae might make things slippery.

We could tell the area behind the dam was a hangout/getaway spot for local kids, who apparently like to paint graffiti there.  Here's somebody acting silly while sitting on top of the dam.

Last fall, before I'd thought of the quest to visit all the parks, I did a run at Cedar Lake park, covering about 10 kilometers (including some running on Lone Elm).  Click to see the track.  I thought I'd go all the way around the lake, but couldn't find a good way to get back up to 159th or Lone Elm, so I just went back the way I came.  I saw a number of interesting water birds while I was running there.

I think this park, being one of the oldest and being still pretty far out on the outskirts of town, may not be very well known.  It's certainly not receiving the lion's share of maintenance/improvement funding.  But sometimes it's nice to have a park that isn't too crowded.

Monday, March 25, 2013


My kids and I have decided to start a quest to visit all the parks in our home town of Olathe, Kansas.  The order might be roughly alphabetical, but not exact.

Alphabetical list of all the parks

So far, we've visited three of them as part of the quest:
  • Cedar Lake Park (although we might go back again later)
  • Arapaho Park
  • Arrowhead Park
We'll post some notes about each park, and maybe some pictures too.

We will probably also include a few parks that are part of Johnson County Parks & Rec as well, at least Shawnee Mission Park.

Olathe also has a couple of historic sites that are managed by the Parks & Rec department that I'm hoping we can check out as well.