Your Outdoor Adventure Buddy
With the mantra “Leave No Trace” in mind, Marissa Marshall loves to walk and jog around the parks and trails of Lawrence with her energetic pug mix, Frankie. She balances dual roles at the University of Kansas, being an employee and nontraditional student. Because Marissa believes that finding outdoor adventures is for everyone, she appreciates Lawrence’s efforts to make outdoor areas/activities accessible and inclusive.
Marissa's Top 5 Spaces
What it’s known for: One of the most diverse and beautiful habitats in Kansas. The Baker Wetlands encompasses 927 acres of rich, natural wildlife. 278 species of birds, 98 other vertebrate species, and 487 plant species have been identified at the Wetlands.
Why she loves it: The Baker Wetlands are my favorite outdoor area in Lawrence. I enjoy walking the trails while taking in the wildlife and native plants. There are various spots along the trails to have a seat, enjoy the environment, watch for wildlife and relax.
Insider tip: Stick around long enough and you may spot a bald eagle.
LAWRENCE LEVEE TRAIL
What it’s known for: Located along the north bank of the Kansas River, the Lawrence Levee Trail runs along the top of the flood-control levee on the outskirts of Lawrence.
Why she loves it: The Lawrence Levee Trail is great for a longer walk, run, or bike ride. You can see downtown Lawrence across the Kansas River, then continue down the trail to be surrounded by vast farmlands and greenery.
Insider Tip: The Levee Café, conveniently located right next to the northwest entrance, is a perfect stop to grab a fresh bite to eat and refuel.
KU FIELD STATION
What it’s known for: Faculty, students and visiting researchers use the Field Station’s diverse native and managed habitats, experimental systems, support facilities and long-term databases to undertake an a wide variety of scholarly activities.
Why she loves it: The KU Field Station offers a few different trails highlighting native prairie plants, woodland, and forest. Each trail provides a scenic hike, but I recommend the Rockefeller Prairie Trail that leads to Kaw River Valley Overlook and its beautiful panoramic view of the area.
Insider Tip: This trail is ADA-compliant but does not allow pets, and you will definitely want to have insect repellent handy.
MUTT RUN OFF-LEASH DOG PARK
What it’s known for: Mutt Run is an ideal atmosphere to bond with your dog, enjoy canine interaction and let your dog run free. The park sits on property leased from the U.S. Corps of Engineers below the Clinton Lake Dam in West Lawrence.
Why she loves it: Mutt Run is my favorite dog park in Lawrence. It provides more than enough room for your dog to run around, socialize, and play. It is a great way to hike a few trails and to have fun outdoor time with your dog.
Insider Tip: Dogs can splash in the waterfall area, so I always recommend bringing a blanket or towel.
What it’s known for: Located on the southwestern edge of Lawrence, the lake offers camping, boating, fishing, hunting, over 50 miles of hiking, equestrian and mountain bike trais, 18-hole golf course, model airplane airport, and the Clinton Lake Historical Society Museum.
Why she loves it: A visit to Clinton Lake makes for a fun outdoor trip. With a state park section and an Army Corps of Engineers section, the complex has an activity for every outdoor lover, from campsites and trails to kayaking and paddling.
Insider Tip: I recommend Clinton State Park’s North Shore Blue and White Loop trails for a moderately challenging hike that captures beautiful views of the lake and woodland.