July 10, 2017

7 Favorite Trails Near Omaha

Stumped on where to go for your next family hike? Here are seven of my family’s favorite trails near Omaha to inspire your next outdoor adventure:

Guide to trails near Omaha - Best places for easy hikes with kids in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa #hiking #familytravel

Heron Haven

Shaded, crushed limestone trail at Heron Haven in Omaha
A limestone crushed trail at Heron Haven, located in the center of Omaha.

Where: Omaha city limits

Why: Head here if you want a taste of nature but you’re short on time. This pretty wetland sanctuary in the heart of the city feels like an escape once you’re in the thick of it, but it’s not very large (so it’s great for little legs). Definitely venture to the little boardwalk over the pond. Read more about Heron Haven here.

Tip: Heron Haven has monthly kids on the second Saturday of the month.

Hummel Park

Metal slide at Hummel Park in Omaha
One of the slides at Hummel Park in Omaha.

Where: Omaha city limits

Why: This city park has easy to somewhat difficult trails, plus a nice visitor center. There are some interesting features on trails, like the stairs that no one seems to agree on the number of them, plus two cool new slides. 

Trail map

Tip: Omaha City Parks & Recreation holds quite a few FREE activities each year, that you should check out! My family has done a firefly night event and the Halloween themed one.

Fontenelle Forest

Entrance to Raptor Woodland Refuge at Fontenelle Forest in Nebraska
The entrance to Fontenelle Forest’s Raptor Woodland Refuge in Bellevue, Neb.

Where: Bellevue, Neb. (about a 10-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: Fontenelle Forest has 26 miles of trails, including the area’s best accessible boardwalk that makes it easy for wheelchairs and strollers to go deep into the woods. They also have Acorn Acres, a great children’s outdoor playscape, and the new Raptor Woodland Refuge space that my kids insist we see each time we’re there.

Tip: While these trails have more signs posted than others, grab a map before heading out on your hike.

Hitchcock Nature Center

A well-worn trail in the Loess Hills found at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa
An easy trail at Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek, Iowa.

Where: Honey Creek, Iowa (about a 20-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This park tucked in the Loess Hills is beautiful in any season. You’ll find 10 miles of trails with a good mix of easy ridge lines and difficult, rugged trails, plus an accessible boardwalk. The visitor center is top-notch, and there’s a lookout tower that kids enjoy. Time a visit well and participate in the Hawk Watch. Read more about fall at Hitchcock here.

Trail map

Tip: Check out a backpack at the visitor center. They’re free to borrow, and include kid-friendly items to enhance your hike.

Arbor Day Farms Tree Adventure

Bridge at the Tree Adventure in Nebraska City, Nebraska
One of the bridges found along the trail at the Tree Adventure.

Where: Nebraska City, Neb. (about a 50-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: The South Table Creek Trail at the Tree Adventure is a favorite of my family. It has a couple bridges, some fun kids structures, and a bird sculpture-spotting game. In addition to the trail, we love the outdoor education center and tree house there. Read more about the Tree Adventure here. There is a paved trail and a dirt trail here.

Tip: There are frequent special events held at the Tree Adventure, so check the calendar to time a fun visit. We visited one time when there was a gnome scavenger hunt!

Platte River State Park

Small waterfall found on an easy hike at Platte River State Park in Nebraska
This waterfall at Platte River State Park is my favorite destination of any Omaha metro trail.

Where: Louisville, Neb. (about 30-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This is one of my family’s favorite Nebraska State Park, with a good variety of easy to difficult trails. A favorite is the very short, flat trail to a waterfall. It’s a tough call which park, Platte River or Hitchcock, have the best terrain for hikes out of this list. Read more about Platte River State Park here.

Interactive trail map for NE state parks

Tip: Bring a map with you when exploring these trails. There aren’t a whole lot of signs out there, and you can end up taking a much longer hike than anticipated.

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Hiking at Mahoney State Park in Ashland, Neb.
Exploring the easy-to-hike trails near the lookout tower. If you time it right, you can catch a nice view of passing trains.

Where: Ashland, Neb. (about 30-mile drive from Omaha)

Why: This state park is full of things to do. It’s not a particular great place for hiking, but there are some trails and they are pretty easy. There’s a paved path around the park, too, though it’s not very shade. One highlight for kids is the trail near the lookout tower, which leads you to an overlook where you might catch a train passing by.

Interactive trail map for NE state parks

Tip: Bring a swimsuit and cool off at the park’s amazing aquatic center after your hike. Or, keep the trail theme going and go on a horseback ride at Mahoney.

Want MORE ideas for hikes? Read 3 Places To Hike In The Loess Hills!

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  1. My husband’s family lives in Omaha so I am always looking for new adventures we can go on while we are there visiting and this is the perfect list!! Outdoor hikes the whole family can enjoy!! So thank you for this 😉

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