Tag Archive: Nebraska

Ice Hike in Fontenelle Forest – Omaha, NE


Went out for a little hike around the flat bit of Fontenelle Forest near the Missouri River. I didn’t know how iced over the trails would be and didn’t want to be slip-sliding up and down the hilly bits of Fontenelle as I don’t have any crampons or any other traction aids for my shoes. You wouldn’t imagine as Omaha as a place for crampons but we get snow here and then during the day it warms up and melts, and at night it freezes again creating a permanent skating rink anywhere that hasn’t been cleared of snow.


The bridge that got destroyed in one of my previous posts has been completely removed and they’ve just built a new bridge on top of the fallen tree. Serendipity and a bit of creativity have created a much improved bridge.



Winter creates such a different world. I’ve hiked these trails a lot and the difference through the seasons can be a bit staggering at times. These are flood plains and winter is no exception, wood planks that are used to cross swampy bits are now encased in ice. The ice cracks and water bubbles up as you try and make your way through these sections. In places you can hear water trickling down the streams from earlier snow melt. Sound is absorbed by the blanket of snow. All you can hear is the crunch of your boots and the trickle of unfrozen water. This is serenity.

Now if only my face didn’t hurt from the cold.



Omaha Hike: Hidden Lake Trail

Hidden Lake Trail is hands down one of my favorite hikes in the Omaha area. It has a bit of everything, a few hills, swamps, large lakes, great bird habitats, large trees, lookouts, etc.


imageThis is the start of the trail, as you can see there is a pay booth. If you’re a Fontanelle member all the trails in Fontanelle Forest and Neale Woods are accessible ($35 yearly) otherwise the cost of hiking is a $7 per person donation. Relatively speaking this is probably the most expensive trail that I have ever hiked. To put this in perspective Rocky Mountain National Park has an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle, or perhaps a better example is the beautiful Hitchcock Nature Center just north of Council Bluffs, IA that has an entrance fee of $2 a vehicle or $10 for a year pass.



Right after crossing the road you run into the first of many signs along the trail, above it shows a little map and a bit of information about the area.imageA short ways from the sign you’ll come to the board walk and then the first of many Ys in the trail. I prefer to do the hills first and then to have a easy walk back so I take a right at this junction.


There are a few little lookouts like this, usually they are a bit easier to get to. Repairs are typically done quickly and everything is fairly well groomed.


Hang a left here on Stream Trail, this takes you by a bit of a swampy area and an overlook to one of the two lakes on this trail. The bridge across the marsh is just a bit down the trail and on the right.


There are many informational posts along the trail.


This is the bridge across the marsh area, across it is when the trail crosses the train tracks and heads into the hills.


The upland areas are a bit of a trudge up, but offer great views and a welcome change of the typical Nebraska scenery.


One of the best views offered on the trail, this one can be easily missed though. On your way up the hill there will be a little offshoot to your left that leads to a wood plank in the ground. On this wood plank there used to be a nice bench to take a break on but it’s been gone for a couple years now.


After a bit of ups and downs on the trail you’ll come to another split, take a left onto History Trail.


If you head down History Trail and at the next split take a left. Roughly thirty feet down the trail you’ll run into a grave site where Logan Fontenelle and his family are buried.


The trail down to the grave sites just dead ends, you will turn around and head back up and take the other unexplored trail. This leads to my favorite part of the trail. It’s an open area and you can see across to where the trail is going. The openness and the amount of undergrowth in the area really give this part of the trail a special feel.


And heading up on the other side of the valley.


Another split in the trail, head down on Hidden Lake Trail across the tracks and to the lowlands.


On down the trail and across the tracks.


The remnants of an old bridge that used to stretch across Hidden Lake.


There are quite a few boardwalks over areas that can get swampy when wet.


The lookout signifies nearing the end of the trail.


Even though it’s a bit on the expensive side I really love this trail. It has as much variation in scenery and habitats that one can hope for on a short day hike in Omaha, Nebraska.


  • Distance: 4 Miles
  • My time: 2 Hours
  • Elevation: Half is completely flat, the other half is hills.
  • Difficulty(out of 10): 7 (When dry, parts of the trail are prone to flooding and can get muddy.)
  • Cost: Free to members of Fontanelle Forest (as of writing membership is $35 annually) or $7 per person.

Download GPS file here (right click save as).

Fontanelle Forest Main Site: http://www.fontenelleforest.org/

Fontanelle Map

Omaha Hike: N.P. Dodge Park – Missouri River North

This used to be one of my favorite hikes in town, until flood waters washed away the trail and caused a lot of downed trees. It’s still a very pretty walk but the going is difficult due to some obstacles, and it becomes nearly unpassable in the summer and fall when everything becomes overgrown.

The trail is located in the most eastern part of N. P. Dodge park, near the marina entrance. It’s not well marked, but you’ll see a small parking area that fits about three cars and a recently added garbage can.

The trail is well defined to the river and sometimes you’ll see people fishing and it’s sometimes a popular spot for teenagers. Once you get to the river and start heading north the trail is nearly nonexistent and I recommend just sticking along the river. Once you get to the Northern end of the trail you’ll see the exit trail as it’s another well defined path to the river. The exit trail is currently filled with downed trees.



Once you get through the obstacle course it’s a short road walk back to your vehicle.

  • Distance: 1.8 Miles
  • My time: 45 minutes
  • Elevation: Flat
  • Difficulty(out of 10): 5 When the path is relatively clear.

Download GPS file here (right click save as).