June 9, 2015

An Intro To Heron Haven

I like getting email from readers, especially when they clue me in to something I’d never heard of.

In March, Jeremy had written that he’d come across my blog post about Indian Cave State Park and he had a closer recommendation for me to check out:

Heron Haven quote - An intro to Heron Haven, a hidden gem of a refuge in the heart of Omaha, Nebraska

“…just wanted to share with you a nice little place that I take my daughter to quite often when we need a nature break.  Heron Haven.  It’s inside the Omaha city limits and is quite a nice little place.  They have a small nature garden with native plants as well as a wetlands area as well as an Education Center.  If you haven’t visited, it is a very under appreciated part of Omaha near Maple and 120th, kind of across Maple from Mulhall’s.  You can see it on north side of the road as your drive on Maple, but it is easily overlooked.  Link below to their website and facebook page.

Heron Haven

Heron Haven Facebook

May be a little spare right now, though we did notice birds are starting to return for the Spring.  Hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does.”

Well, Jeremy, we finally got to visit and I have to say that in May, this little place is a wonderful city escape!

Intro to Heron Haven - A boardwalk at Heron Haven, a small wildlife refuge in the heart of Omaha
Our first trip down the boardwalk at Heron Haven.

We could’ve picked a worse day to go, but the threat of rain at least meant no one else was there during our visit. We were greeted by a kind woman I’m going to presume is a volunteer. She pointed out the areas of interest and explained the pond in view was in the process of becoming a dragonfly pond.

We also found out that the education center is only open occasionally. Your best bet to catch it open are the events shared at the end of this post.

An Intro To Heron Haven Wetland Sanctuary

What is it?

Intro to Heron Haven - A path at Heron Haven, a small wildlife sanctuary in the heart of Omaha
Heron Haven is an urban sanctuary, literally. It lies next to one of Omaha’s busies streets, yet you wouldn’t know it walking the trails (unless you listen hard enough).

It’s called an urban sanctuary and that’s pretty accurate. You’ll hear a steady hum from Maple Street traffic, but you start to tune it out the longer you walk around.

Heron Haven is one of the last riparian oxbow wetlands of the Big Papillion Creek within Omaha’s city limits (got that off the brochure). That pretty much means it’s a curving wetland next to streams and lakes.

Intro to Heron Haven - A lake at Heron Haven, a small wildlife refuge in the heart of Omaha
It’ll take a family with small children about 20 minutes, give or take, to walk to this lake.

It’s probably the best kept secret in Omaha.

And it’s FREE.

I think you can enjoy Heron Haven no matter what the weather is.

What’s at Heron Haven?

Your first stop from the parking lot will either be the butterfly garden or the native grass plot.

We were with kids, so obviously, they chose butterflies.

Intro to Heron Haven - A butterfly garden at Heron Haven, a small wildlife refuge in the heart of Omaha
The entrance to the butterfly garden at Heron Haven.

It smelled lovely, as could be expected.

Flowers in the butterfly garden at Heron Haven in Omaha
Flowers were in bloom at the butterfly garden in May.

In late May, the spring flowers were in full bloom.

Things to do at Heron Haven - Visit the butterfly garden
The kids spot a bird at the butterfly garden. Alas, no butterflies.

But with the weather, no butterflies were spotted.

There are two out-and-back trails. The Upland Trail will take you to a photo blind at a marsh.

Intro to Heron Haven - A duck blind is a great way to watch wildlife undetected
Mooch takes a peek through a duck blind.

You’ll actually find two blinds on that path, but the one you’re heading for is an enclosure with benches.

Intro to Heron Haven - Watch wildlife from the enclosed photographer's blind at the end of a trail at Heron Haven.
An enclosed photographer’s blind at the end of a trail at Heron Haven.

We spotted two geese there. The wildlife spotted along the way, though, was way more exciting for the kids.

Toads at Heron Haven
We didn’t have much luck spotting birds at Heron Haven, but toads? Toads we could find.

They found toads in one of the ponds, and tons of snails on our path.

Things to do at Heron Haven - Look for snails
Mooch’s favorite discovery were all the snails at Heron Haven.
Snail at Heron Haven
Hello, snail.
Things to do at Heron Haven - Look for worms.
Mooch’s second favorite find at Heron Haven: Worms.

The Upland Trail isn’t too strenuous but if it’s been rainy, expect mud. This trail, by the way is not stroller- or wheelchair-friendly.

Things to do at Heron Haven - Walk a short, kid-friendly trail
Limestone paths turn into dirt paths that turn quite muddy in the spring.

The other trail takes you to the boardwalk.

It’s a quick one, just a quarter-mile, but it does lead to the boardwalk that extends over the wetlands.

Things to do at Heron Haven - Walk a short, kid-friendly trail
It’s an even faster trail if you run it.

It is an accessible trail if you’ve got a stroller or wheelchair.

Things to do at Heron Haven - Walk the boardwalk
Who knew Omaha had a board walk like this out over the water?

Rather than just leaving you to your own devices, there are several signs throughout the wetland area, telling you what trees you’re seeing, or explaining how to behave around wildlife with new chicks, etc.

Wildlife warning sign at Heron Haven
A helpful little sign to explain why geese are so crotchety.

What you may see at Heron Haven

Wildlife to spot at Heron Haven -  Kingfishers, Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, wood ducks, Canada geese, painted turtles, frogs, snails, hummingbirds, butterflies
We were on the lookout for frogs.

Wildlife: Kingfishers, Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, wood ducks, Canada geese, painted turtles, frogs, snails, hummingbirds, butterflies

Plantlife: Blueflag Iris, Arrowheads, Cattail, Duckweed, Sedges, Swamp Milkweed

Important rules at Heron Haven

Heron Haven can be a serene place within Omaha.
Heron Haven can be a serene place within Omaha.

No pets or bicycles allowed.

Trails are open from dawn to dusk everyday.

Bug spray is a must.

If you go

Heron Haven 7

Where: Heron Haven, 11809 Old Maple Road, Omaha, Neb.


When: Open daily from dawn to dusk

Events

Family-friendly educational programs are held on the second Saturday of the month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. (probably weather dependent).

Heron Haven is a hidden gem in the heart of Omaha, Nebraska. Read about this small sanctuary with trails and wildlife viewing. Get tips on what you'll see there, what not to bring, and when to visit for special events. #Omaha #Nebraska #USA #outdoors

Loved this post?

Get more posts like this delivered straight to your inbox twice a month. Subscribe to the FREE e-newsletter here.

Comments

  1. Oh wow! I drive past here all the time and had no idea all of this was going on back in there. Neat!! TFS! 😉

  2. Ron Bousquet says

    great photos, good info, very interesting place for families to check out. thank you

  3. Cool! That’s right by my in law’s place. I only thought the golf course was down that road. We’ll have to check it out!

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.