When the weather is warm, not much is cheaper or more relaxing than taking a walk outside. Thankfully, there are some really great walking trails in Wichita that ensure we never get bored with the scenery. Following is a list of a few that are favorites of my own and those I’ve been told about by friends and acquaintances. Do you have a great walking spot you would recommend?
Parks and Natural Areas
Chisholm Creek Park is possibly one of the most pleasant walks in Wichita. The path is paved, but it winds through lush native Kansas grasses, plants, and trees, making you feel like you are a million miles away from civilization. Bring a water bottle, but leave your bike and your pets at home for this walk. The Chisholm Creek Park walking trail is adjacent to the Great Plains Nature Center 6232 E. 29th Street North in northeast Wichita.
Sedgwick County Park is another gorgeous place for a long walk or bike ride, and in the summer it has shade! It also has a stream, covered bridge, and water fountains for both you and your dog. Kids can play on any one of several playgrounds, and your family could fly kites or fish after your walk. (A fishing license is required for 16 and older.) Entrances to the park from 21st Street or 13th Street, just east of Ridge Road in northwest Wichita.
Pawnee Prairie Park is a favorite walking area for many Wichitans, including the equine variety. Pawnee Prairie has an 5-mile bridle trail and 8-mile nature trail. (I think there’s a bike path too? But bikes and other wheeled conveyances are not allowed on the nature trail. You can bring your dog, though, on a leash.) This park is designated as a wild habitat area and is just lovely. Pawnee Prairie Park is south of Kellogg between Tyler and Maize roads in southwest Wichita.
Swanson Park, in northwest Wichita, is another natural oasis within the city limits. Like Chisholm Creek Park and Pawnee Prairie Park, it has been designated as a Wichita Wild Habitat Area. Swanson Park is located at 1011 N. Maize Rd.
Hermann Hill Park nature trail starts at the WATER Center, where it follows a man-made creek to the Arkansas River. Trail-guide pamphlets are located at the trail head. There’s also a disc golf course at Hermann Hill Park, if you prefer to do your walking while playing a sport. You’ll find the WATER Center at 101 E. Pawnee in south Wichita.
See also: Wichita Art Garden tours
Downtown Wichita has nine themed walking routes. Each loop has a theme and features signs that highlight entertaining, amusing, or just interesting information about people and places in Kansas. Here’a a printable map of the trails in Wichita and Haysville. For more information, read my article about the grand opening of the downtown walking paths, and scroll down to see each path and its description.
The Haysville Walking Trails were part of the same project as the downtown trails. There are two walking loops, each with a theme.
Wichita Art Museum’s Art Garden is free and open to the public every day. Walk around the eight acres of this “roofless museum” and enjoy the outdoor sculptures, lush perennials and grasses, shrubs and trees. Take a guided tour of the art garden for free every third Saturday from spring to fall.
Old Town Sculpture Walkabout is a year-long exhibition overseen by the Wichita Arts Council. Every year new outdoor sculptures are placed around Old Town within walking distance of each other. The Arts Council publishes a map along with photos and descriptions of each sculpture and information about the artists. The sculptures are for sale, so if you really love one of them you can buy it and take it home when the year is up.
Douglas Design District murals are another art installation that can provide a walking experience. The murals were painted by volunteer artists during Avenue Art Days in the fall of 2015 and then again in October 2016. At present, the exhibit includes 40 murals along a stretch of East Douglas Avenue from Washington to Oliver. Though you can walk this – there are sidewalks – it’s quite a stretch through an urban area with lots of traffic, so you might prefer to park your car, walk a section, and then drive to the next section until you’ve seen all the murals. (According to Google maps, it’s about five miles round-trip.) There’s a very good map at the Avenue Art Days website. And they now have a free app for both Apple and Android devices.
Where are your favorite places to walk in Wichita?