While Omaha isn’t known as a hiking destination, that doesn’t mean we still aren’t home to our fair share of hiking trails! Omaha just happens to be surrounded by beautiful bluffs, rolling hills, peaceful lakes and sparkling rivers—each offering a variety of trails for you to explore. And because we have one of the best parks departments in the country, each trail has been impeccably maintained for your family’s enjoyment.
We rounded up some our favorite local hiking and walking destinations below, including both rural and urban treks through Omaha’s beautiful scenery. So, grab your hiking shoes, some sunscreen and a bottle of water and hit the trail!
We’ve organized this list by distance from the center of downtown Omaha. To see exactly where each trail starts, we encourage you to click the address under each trail header to see a Google map.
Entrance Fee: $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3-12
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For a gorgeous urban hike, don’t miss Lauritzen Gardens! The space is a beautiful green and floral oasis, allowing visitors to view hundreds of unique plant species and engage in fun, socially distanced workshops and events. Meander through the scenic gardens, and then stop by the cafe for a snack! One of our favorite places to hike within the gardens is their Woodland Trail, a century-old forest of bur oak offering views to the north and south of the Missouri River Valley.
Fontenelle Forest is one of our favorite places to hike in the Omaha area. This gorgeous forest is full of treehouses, suspended walkways, boardwalks and educational opportunities—all surrounded by hiking trails for you to explore. The entire area offers more than 19 miles of hiking trails, passing through lakes, rivers, camps, a railroad and more. You can even take a detour off the main path to take a short history hike to learn about the French Trading Post. Click here to learn more about every hike you can take in Fontenelle Forest and explore trail maps.
Lewis and Clark Monument Park in Council Bluffs is about 35 acres in size and offers some of the best views of Big Lake Park, Eppley Airfield and the Omaha skyline in the city. In addition to the titular Lewis and Clark Monument, this park is also home to beautiful hiking trails, mountain biking trails, picnic areas, restrooms and a plaza with an overlook!
You can’t beat the views at Vincent Bluff Preserve! Located in Council Bluffs, this area offers you perfect views of the Loess Hills. The area offers several nature trails—including one to the top of the bluff overlooking the entire metro Council Bluffs area—along with a picnic shelter.
This historic park features several walking trails, a playground, a plaza, a brand-new splash pad and a scenic overlook of the west side of Council Bluffs and the Omaha skyline! Handicap accessible and not too far from the heart of the city, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic, cool off during the summer, take a hike or take in the sights.
Just a few miles outside of downtown Omaha, the Wabash Trace Trail is a crushed limestone trail, great for cycling, jogging or light hiking! It starts in Council Bluffs and takes a scenic route southward through the Loess Hills and tree-lined fields. And, because it’s an old railroad route, the slopes are never too steep. Enjoy exploring more than four counties, nine towns and more than 72 bridges through the 63 miles of trail that tracks through southwest Iowa.
Hummel Park is a beautiful, peaceful area perfect for a summer hike! The nature center, operated by the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department, offers environmental education programs and special nature events year-round. Here, you’ll find a variety of gorgeous hiking trails, a frisbee/disc golf course, a gaga ball pit and so much more.
For a leisurely walk through some of Omaha’s most scenic parks, you can’t do better than The Big Papio Trail. This winding, 18.7-mile route connects several retail and business corridors, even offering trailside dining and shopping at One Pacific Place, many overlooking the Missouri River. Stop along the route to play a round of disc golf at Seymour Smith Park, and take in the views at the Happy Hollow Club.
Heron Haven, located near Woodlyn Park in West Omaha, is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary featuring one of the last oxbow wetlands of Big Papillion Creek. In addition to being a great place to hike, Heron Haven is an important educational and research asset to local biology and ecology students at local universities. The hiking trails here are a favorite for families, offering flat trails and a little boardwalk over the pond.
The OPPD Arboretum is an outdoor education area located at 108th and Blondo Streets and is open to the public from dawn until dusk. The area is surrounded by a paved trail as well as a woodchipped trail—giving you plenty of options when it comes to exploring the entire arboretum. Along the way, don’t forget to stop by the Substation Overlook, the Outdoor Classroom, the Transmission Line Demonstration, The Electrical Safety Education Area and more!
Tranquility Park is one of the most popular spots for hiking in the Omaha area, and it’s not hard to see why! Tranquility Trail is Omaha’s first approved off-road trail system, offering more than 9 miles of hiking trails with a good mix of terrain. Enjoy everything from tight switchbacks through pine trees to wide, open grassland climbs and speed-building swooping descents!
Entrance Fee: Free
Zorinsky Lake is one of Omaha’s most popular recreational areas, boasting a 225-acre lake surrounded by 770 acres of public access land. One of our favorite Zorinsky Lake activities—in addition to actually swimming in the lake—is hiking! There is a trail, dubbed Zorinsky Lake Trail Loop, that runs along the entire edge of the lake, offering more than 7.8 miles for walking or biking. Because the trail is mostly flat, it’s a favorite for families and those walking dogs.
Entrance Fee: $5 per vehicle
The Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek is a wonderland of things to do all year long. Not only do they offer fun hands-on activities for kids, but they also offer a 45-foot-tall observation tower that gives visitors a unique birds-eye view of the rolling hills. They are open every day of the year for hiking, camping, picnicking, bird watching and more. Click here to see a map of the 10 miles of trails throughout the nature center!
Entrance Fee: Free
Paddle boarding, kayaking and swimming await at Standing Bear Lake! The day-use facility is located on the northwest side of Omaha and is a serene paradise all year long. Here, you’ll find 3.3 miles of hiking and cycling trails (which includes an amazing bridge trail section), a picnic area, shaded shelters, a playground and the lake, which is perfect for a quick splash!
Entrance Fee: $6 per vehicle
Located halfway between Omaha and Lincoln, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is a popular outdoorsy retreat for residents of both cities. While the park is well known due to its water park and other summer attractions, we love exploring the area’s miles of scenic wooded walking trails! Click here to explore all the hikes you can find in this state park and map out your route.
Entrance Fee: $6 per vehicle
Nestled among the rolling hills of the Platte River Valley, Schramm Park State Recreation Area is a spectacular spot to spend a summer day. Along with offering the state’s first fish hatchery, the park boasts several well-maintained wooded trails that are open all year long. One of the longer routes, which is very popular with local hikers, features a suspension bridge that offers beautiful views of the park. While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to tour the Schramm Education Center, a state-of-the-art facility that allows visitors to learn all about Nebraska’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
Situated just 30 minutes outside of Omaha, the Lee G. Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari is home to more than 350 animals and 53 species from all over the world. The park is a partner with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and allows animals to thrive in a more natural habitat while researchers study their lives and behaviors. Unlike other zoos, you can take a fabulous drive-through tour of the park and witness animals in their natural state in a little Nebraskan safari! In addition to their driving tour, they also offer 2 miles of hiking trails for you to explore! Hike through Wolf Woods or head over to Frog Lake; both offer gorgeous views, educational opportunities and a fun walk for all levels of hikers to enjoy.
Take a Hike!
Where are your favorite places to hike in the Omaha area? Tell us all about them in the comments below.