These outdoor spaces are the hidden gems of the K-State campus

An informational sign is overshadowed by the tall growth of native prairie plants at the Meadow, a nature area near the Beach Museum that is maintained by several campus groups. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

One of the benefits of learning or working on a college campus is getting to observe the beauty of the outdoors while commuting. At Kansas State University, outdoor spaces like Anderson Lawn and World War I Memorial Stadium are well-known. However, there are pockets of campus that are not as famous but are still worth a trip to for studying, socializing or just relaxing.

1. The Meadow

The Meadow is a native grassy area on the K-State campus between the Beach Museum and All Faiths Chapel. A walking trail lets students, staff, faculty and campus guests experience the nature area, which is maintained by several campus groups year-round. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

Located between All Faiths Chapel and the Beach Museum of Art, the Meadow is a native plant nature area that has a walking trail running through it. It exists for many reasons: The Meadow demonstrates sustainable landscaping, provides a space for research and facilitates the teaching of native plant identification. During the spring and summer, the Meadow is lush with Kansas grasses and plants. Walking through along the short trail can feel like you’re in a different place, away from the hustle-and-bustle of campus.

2. Grover Cobb Memorial

A bench in the Grover Cobb Memorial area is surrounded by greenery. The memorial is located south of Calvin Hall under the old radio tower. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

The skyscraping radio tower south of Calvin Hall might catch your eye first, but there is also a memorial space surrounded by greenery under that fixture. The Grover Cobb Memorial was reconstructed a few years ago by landscape architecture students, the memorial placard reads, and the site was rededicated in 2017. With flowering plants and bushes abound, the area has built-in benches and tables, making it an under-used study area on the south end of campus.

3. K-State’s Oldest Tree

The oldest tree on campus is located in the quad just north of Hale Library. The thornless honeylocust was planted in 1833. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

There’s at least one tree on campus that is older than K-State itself. This thornless honeylocust is 186 years old, planted in 1833 by a farmer and horticulturalist who owned the land before the university did. It is rooted in the quad just north of Hale Library, alive and well with new shoots sprouting from its trunk. According to the tree’s informational sign, it is 70 feet tall and has 555 pounds of carbon dioxide sequestered within its wood.

4. President’s Residence Backyard

Through a barrier of trees, the President's Residence can be found on the Kansas State campus on April 5. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

This hidden gem is a bit harder for students to see; technically, the yard behind the President’s Residence is private property, so you shouldn’t plan on taking your books there to study. Still, the area evokes a romantic scene. The cleanly cut grass in the backyard is surrounded by tall bushes, and as the leaves fall away during autumn and winter, passersby can see the rope swing hanging from a tree in the backyard from the path that spans the west side of the residence. It’s a bit off-limits, but it is still a lesser-known outdoor area on campus.

5. The Whispering Garden

The placard at the Whispering Garden, located between Trotter and Mosier halls at K-State, dedicates the space as a place to reflect and remember pets that have passed away. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

The location of this memorial space is particularly hidden if you don’t frequent the veterinary medicine campus. Between Trotter Hall and Mosier Hall, there are two features worth noting: the Whispering Garden memorial pathway and “A Kind Touch,” a statue of a man, young boy and dog cast in memory of veterinarian Robert Kind. In the garden, photos of remembered pets adorn the walkway. The space, according to the informational sign, is a tribute to animals that have enriched people’s lives.

Pictures of pets that have passed away are memorialized along the pathway of the Whispering Garden, located in the courtyard between Trotter and Mosier halls at the Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

Whether its used as a space for remembrance, study or reverie in a natural setting, K-State’s campus has all sorts of outdoor hidden gems to discover.

Dene Dryden is the Collegian’s copy editor and a senior in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to

I'm Dene Dryden, and I graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor's of Arts in English. Before graduating, I worked at the Collegian for more than three years as a copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief. I also served a term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. While at K-State, I also worked at Wildcat 91.1 FM. My cat Robyn is the light of my life, and I take compliments in the form of coffee.