July 19, 2016

Trail Rides & Pony Rides At Mahoney State Park

Updated: July 23, 2018

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, Neb., 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, including exciting updates in 2018. The first time we went just for horses, though, didn’t quite work out for us. All trail ride slots were filled. So, I learned a few things to share with you.

Mahoney State Park Trail Rides Information

Before you trot out to Mahoney to take the kiddos on a trail ride, there are a few things you should know how it works, from getting your tickets to timing your ride.

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 in person at the administration office starting at 8 a.m. 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. The 2018 hours are: Monday through Friday (9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. & 4 p.m.); Saturday and Sunday (9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m. & 5 p.m.)

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.

Mahoney State Park Pony Rides Information

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. Here are a few things to know about pony rides at Mahoney State Park:

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. Rides are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with reduced hours starting Aug. 13, 2018. After Aug. 13, pony rides are only on Saturdays and Sundays and Labor Day. Pony rides are weather permitting.

3. Pony rides are $6=7 and you can pay at the stables or at the Administration Office.

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?

 

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May 28, 2013

Mahoney State Park For Families

Updated: April 28, 2018

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.

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.

Lodging Options at Mahoney State Park

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.

There are now even nicer cabins available. All cabins, new or older, can be reserved up to a year in advance, and many are already filled up for next summer.

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.

If you’re ready to go camping or to reserve a cabin, click here to check availability.

Family-Friendly Activities At Mahoney

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.

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. Cost is $7 per kid. Pony rides are weather permitting and run daily through Aug. 13, and then they’re only on Saturdays and Sundays.

Pool – Two water slides, wave pool and an area for small children. Very popular summer spot. It costs $10 per adult, $8 per child (ages 3-12), and FREE for children 2 and younger.

Arboretum

S’mores eating

Ball Field

Bicycling

Bird watching

Paddleboats – Paddleboat rentals are down by the Owen Marina. They are $8 per boat for a half-hour rental.

Fishing – Several fishing clinics are planned during the summer.

Explore the marina – For me, includes exploring the ice cream shop there. This is also where all the arts & craft stuff are.

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 – Mini golf is $3.50 per person. There’s also a driving range, and it’s $3 for a bucket of balls.

Soccer/Rugby Field

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. Usually there are two show options and tickets are $7 per adult and $5 per child (ages 12 and younger. The family package, which is two adult tickets and two child tickets, is $20.

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.

Horseback riding – You must be 6 or older to ride a horse. Read more about trail rides at Mahoney here. The cost is $18 per person.

Horseshoe pits

Mountain/trail bicycling

Tennis

Nature programs – The park offers about several free programs, including ones focusing on horses, native reptiles, insects, prairie and hummingbird workshops, archery, nature hikes and fishing clinics.

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

All the family-friendly activities and things to see at Mahoney State Park in eastern Nebraska

New Ropes Course Opened in 2018

The Go Ape! Treetop Adventure opened April 28, 2018. This course includes Treetop Adventure and Treetop Junior, so it’s an outing suitable for kids and adults. There is a height requirement of a minimum 4 feet 7 inches, and there is a maximum weight limit of 285 pounds. The course includes zip lines, obstacles and a ropes course, and expect it to last two to three hours.

Cost is $49 for ages 16 and older and $39 for children 15 and younger. There must be a supervising adult age 19 or older to accompany children. Reservations are suggested.

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)

Louisville State Recreation Area: There are plans to upgrade the park, including adding a water obstacle course! Read this post for details.

Schramm Park State Recreation Area: Trails for hiking and an aquarium with cheap admission. There are plans to upgrade the park! Read this post for details.

Platte River State Park: Great hiking trails, including one to a waterfall. Here are 7 Reasons To Visit Platte River State Park. There are plans to upgrade the park! Read this post for details.

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Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.