July 19, 2016

Trail Rides & Pony Rides At Mahoney State Park

There are surprisingly few places to go trail riding within 30 or so miles of Omaha. One option is at Mahoney State Park out in Ashland, Nebraska, which is about midway between Omaha and Lincoln.

Mahoney Horse Collage

I’ve gone horseback riding at Mahoney as a kid and recently, I decided that it was time to hop back on the saddle, and this time, bring my son along for his first horse ride. My daughter wasn’t old enough for a trail ride, so she’d have to settle for a pony ride.

Mahoney State Park is family-favorite place to explore in any season, but this summer was the first time we went just for the horses. I learned a few things with my spur-of-the-moment trip. It didn’t work out for us, all trail ride slots were filled, but maybe it could work out for you if you plan ahead.

Before you trot out to Mahoney to take the kiddos on a trail ride, there are a few things you should know about horse trail rides there.

Mahoney State Park Trail Rides Information

Horse trail rides at Mahoney State Park are $18 for ages 6 and older. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Horse trail rides at Mahoney State Park are $18 for ages 6 and older. Photo courtesy Nebraska Tourism

1. You can only buy tickets at the administration office. Call ahead of time to see if there are spots left, (402) 944-2523.

2. Trail rides are for ages 6 and older.

3. Trail rides last about 45 minutes to an hour.

4. Trail rides are $18.

5. Horse trail rides run from May to October.

6. Holiday weekends are the busiest times at Mahoney State Park. Which drives home point No. 1. Call ahead.

 

My grand plan of taking my son out on his first trail ride didn’t pan out, but pony rides turned out to be a decent backup option.

 

Mahoney State Park Pony Rides Information

Farley on a not-so-little pony ride. Pony rides at Mahoney State Park are $6 seasonally.

Farley on a not-so-little pony ride. Pony rides at Mahoney State Park are $6 and are offered seasonally.

1. Kids ages 3-9 can ride the ponies.

2. Pony rides run from May to October.

3. Pony rides are $6 and you pay at the stables.

I think $6 is a little steep for a five-minute pony ride in a circle. I made the rookie parent mistake of promising them a pony ride before knowing the price…and you know there’s no backing out of that kind of promise.

 

Your turn: Have you done a trail ride at Mahoney State Park yet? Have you taken your kids on one?

May 28, 2013

Mahoney State Park For Families

Mahoney State Park trails often lead you to a great river view, and if you're lucky, you'll catch a passing train. For my two kids, it was one of the highlights of the whole weekend.

Mahoney State Park trails often lead you to a great river view, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a passing train. For my two kids, it was one of the highlights of the whole weekend.

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is a fun day-trip from Omaha or Lincoln, but there’s so much to do, I recommend planning at least staying overnight if not longer. Especially if you have kids. Especially if you have to factor in naps.

Lodging Options

On our way to brunch at the lodge. (I'm not too impressed with the food there, but I hear the rooms are nice)

On our way to brunch at the lodge. (I’m not too impressed with the food there, but I hear the rooms are nice)

The park offers camping/RV parking, a hotel and cabins. We have yet to camp with the kids, but there are are nice campgrounds near the main lake (the paddle boat lake, as I’ll call it for simplicity’s sake). Most of the lodge rooms have balconies.

Yeah, you might not want to lean to hard on that screen window, dear.

Yeah, you might not want to lean to hard on that screen window, dear.

For cabins, your options include two-, four- and six-bedroom cabins. We opted to stay at a two-bedroom cabin this spring – I highly recommend it. They have AC, appliances and dishware, bathtubs, grills, and for those who like going to a state park but not going outside, they have satellite TV. Ours had an included deck with not-too-sturdy netting (if your child often channels The Hulk, best keep a close eye on her while out there). For dining, our cabin had two picnic tables and a dining room table. Cabins are modern, but not fancy.

The living room of one a two-room cabin at Mahoney State Park. Nothing fancy, but also not roughing it.

The living room of one a two-room cabin at Mahoney State Park. Nothing fancy, but also not roughing it.

Family-Friendly Activities

You never forget the first time you had a s'more. Cheers, Mooch!

You never forget the first time you had a s’more. Cheers, Mooch!

Basically, everything at the Mahoney State Park is family-friendly; what will be the most fun depends on the age of your children. Mine are happy running across a bridge or collecting rocks. Your older kids might require a little more to thrill them.

For the Wee Ones

Playgrounds: There are several, including a huge indoor play area (it has an admission fee but it’s awesome). The biggest one is near the swimming pool – it has a separate jungle gym for smaller kids.

Gardens: My kids love walking around the gardens, especially the greenhouse

Pony rides: Ages 3-9

For All Ages

Pool – Two water slides, wave pool and an area for small children. Very popular summer spot.

Arboretum

S’mores eating

Ball Field

Bicycling

Bird watching

Paddleboats

Fishing – Several fishing clinics are planned during the summer. Check here for dates.

Explore the marina (which, for me, includes exploring the ice cream shop there)

Hiking: If you’re lucky, you see a nearby passing train.

Farley on a hike with Grampy at Mahoney.

Farley on a hike with Grampy at Mahoney.

Putt-putt golf

Soccer/Rugby Field

Craft center: Paint ceramics, work with wood or leather

Lookout tower: It’s a tall one with a great view, and climbing it is a useful tool for tiring out little ones.

You climb this baby a couple times and you'll have buns of steel.

You climb the lookout tower a couple times and you’ll have buns of steel.

Kountze Memorial Theater – Melodramas are often performed here

Stargazing: Climb the lookout tower for a spectacular view. There are a few clinics this summer sponsored by the Omaha Astronomical Society & Prairie Astronomy Club, who will bring telescopes. Check here for dates.

Older Children

Driving range

Game room

Horseback riding – You must be 6 or older to ride a horse. Read more about trail rides at Mahoney here.

Horseshoe pits

Mountain/trail bicycling

Tennis

Nature programs: The park now offers about 20 programs, including ones focusing on horses, native reptiles, insects, prairie and hummingbird workshops, nature hikes and fishing clinics. Learn more here.

For hours and fees on activities, visit this link. Park’s phone number is 402-944-2523.

Nearby Excursions

Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum: Planes and space exploration stuff. The new Children’s Learning Center opened in August 2016, and I wrote all about it here.

Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari: Drive-through safari featuring native species. Read What to Expect if you Visit the Wildlife Safari with Kid

Ashland: Nearest town, and it has two ice cream shops, pizza option and winery (for mommy)

Schramm Park State Recreation Area: Trails for hiking and an aquarium with cheap admission

Platte River State Park: Great hiking trails, including one to a waterfall. Here are 7 Reasons To Visit Platte River State Park