From the rolling Ponca Hills in Nebraska to the scenic Loess Hills across the river in Iowa, there are plenty of hiking opportunities to explore in the Omaha area. Plus, many of these same trails offer other recreational fun like snowshoeing and mountain biking and past times like birding. So the next time you’re in the Omaha area, lace up your sneakers and hit one of the area trails/parks below for some good old-fashioned hiking (and more).
Fontenelle Forest is one of the largest privately-operated nature centers in the nation and listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. It encompasses 1,400 acres with 19 miles of trails of varying lengths and climbs, including a mile-long ADA accessible boardwalk for wheelchairs, power scooters, strollers, and other devices on wheels. The Forest is home to more than 600 different species of animal and plant life and a wide range of ecosystems. Fontenelle Forest offers a variety of themed guided hikes throughout the year.
Neale Woods Nature Center is a Fontenelle Forest-owned and operated property featuring 600 acres of forest and hilltop prairies along the Missouri River with nine miles of walking trails with scenic views. Throughout the seasons, enjoy special events like winter stargazing. While you’re there, see if you can spot Omaha’s skyline in the distance.
Just south of Neale Woods Nature Center is historic Hummel Park complete with a nature center, hiking trails, and year-round nature-centered fun for families including its popular Fall Fest.
Hidden gem alert: Mount Vernon Gardens was created as a memorial to George Washington, designed to depict his Virginia estate. It was completed in 1931 and features 16 rose beds and 25 flowerbeds, and a nearby trail offers an eye-catching glimpse of the Missouri River.
Across the Missouri River in Iowa, Hitchcock Nature Center in the heart of the Loess Hills is twenty minutes from downtown Omaha is a 1,200-acre preserve with a 10-mile trail system, campsites, and plenty of opportunities for Instagram-worthy pics. Enjoy guided night hikes year-round.
In Council Bluffs, Fairmount Park offers urban trails in a 105-acre park along with an amazing spot for a view of Omaha’s skyline where a brand new three-mile trail splits off. Vincent Bluff Nature Preserve offers a short hike with expansive views of the region, and Lewis and Clark Monument features hiking trails, picnic areas and modern restrooms.
Prefer paved trails on flatter terrain? Click here for more information on Omaha’s trail system.