Reports show Kansas trail usage on the rise

Appalachian Trail / Source: MGN
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Reports show that trail usage in Kansas parks has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Park leaders noted that they had never seen trails so busy on a statewide conference call sponsored by the Kansas Recreation and Park Association. They say this is due to being one of two amenities not closed during stay at home orders.

“Parks, trails and open spaces have long served as places where people can find respite and seek peace and restoration,” states the National Park and Recreation Association. “During this time of uncertainty, these amenities are needed now, more than ever.”

Tim Laurent, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation director says, “I’m elated that we have been able to provide an important quality of life amenity to Shawnee County residents during a challenging time.”

A pedestrian trail counter at the Gage Park Fitness Loop Trail showed over 7,000 people visited within the month of April. Observations also show heavy trail use in the state.

“The parking lot at Skyline Park, home of the Azura Trails, normally sees one to four cars,” says Mike McLaughlin, Shawnee County Parks and Recreation communications and public information supervisor. “On a recent warm Saturday afternoon, the parking lot was completely full and a few cars were parked on the street just outside of the park.”

During the stay at home order Shawnee County Parks and Recreation featured one trail on social media each week. There are about 60 miles of trails split between paved and natural surfaces in Shawnee County. A trail guide can be found here.