Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, we share three kid-friendly hikes in Nebraska to explore with babies and young children.
Hiking with young children (under 5 years old) is different from hiking with school-age children. These three hikes in Nebraska offer families of young children beautiful trails to explore while considering the unique ways young children hike, wander and doddle. While there are hundreds of trails to explore in Nebraska, our local Hike it Baby branches recommend these three hikes that are close to metro areas, accessible by all-terrain strollers and beautiful to explore with young children.
Tree Adventure/South Table Creek Trails (Nebraska City, NE)
Arbor Day Farm, the place where Arbor Day got its start, is a 260-acre outdoor children’s playground. Listed as a National Historical Landmark, Arbor Day Farm encourages people to “plant, nurture and celebrate trees.” Aside from the many activities available on the grounds, such as gift shop, nursery, restaurant and lodging, Arbor Day Farm offers two trails for hiking. Tree Adventure Trail is a paved path that takes visitors to a 50-foot-tall treehouse and includes multiple interactive activities alongside the trail for kids to learn about animal and plant life in the area. Take a detour on the South Table Creek Trail for an additional 2/3-mile dirt trail that winds through the woods. There’s a second tree house for kids to climb and the trail traverses over creeks as well as crosses several bridges. There are also two outdoor classrooms that offer hours of entertainment for the kiddos.
Our family enjoyed Arbor Day Farm so much that after four hours, the kids still weren’t ready to leave. With all the interactive learning opportunities on the trail, we spent a lot of time at each spot. My daughter really enjoyed mimicking bird calls; the boys had fun playing in the creek bed; and all three kiddos liked building and making music in the outdoor Nature Explore Classroom. It was a two-hour drive from home, but Arbor Day Farm will definitely be a yearly visit for us. – Vong Hamilton
- Fall is a beautiful time to visit with colors ablaze. Take time to go through the corn maze and apple orchard, take a hay ride and grab apple pie.
- Before you leave, visit the Greenhouse and learn about how tree seedlings are grown and take a free tree seedling home with you to plant.
- Take your time through the trail as there are hidden gems in the woods for the kids to spot.
Fontenelle Forest Trail (Omaha, NE)
With 2,000 acres of land and 26 miles of trails, Fontenelle Forest is an excellent choice for families with little ones if you are in the Omaha area. Fontenelle Forest Trail is a little over two miles, and if you want to go for a harder hike from this, you can venture off onto other trails. The trail is stroller-friendly but if you venture further to the forest trails, plan to carry kids. You can expect to see deer, rabbit, squirrels, wild turkeys, bald eagles, deer, turtles and raccoons to name some of the wildlife. Fontenelle Forest is also home to a raptor recovery program and they take in 400-500 birds a year from around Nebraska and Iowa. The Raptor Woodland Refuge is open daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Also look for a fun suspension bridge for kids to climb around on.
Fontenelle Forest is one of our favorite hiking destinations. Depending on what level of difficulty we are up to that day, we can walk a couple miles around the boardwalk with the stroller or we can go “off road” on the miles of trails that wind through the woods. There is an outdoor children’s play area which includes a water feature, several tree houses, a digging area and wooden xylophones. Should the weather not cooperate, there is an indoor play area in the lower level of the main building. – Jessica Kadavy
- If you are visiting on a rainy day, the boardwalk can be slick, so walk slowly.
- Take time to read informational boards along the boardwalk trail explaining more about the wildlife in the area.
- There are benches all along the boardwalk portion of the trail that are great for breaks and nursing.
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (Omaha, NE)
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge isn’t a wooded trail, but it was worth mentioning here for its unique construction and short distance that makes it toddler-friendly. Affectionately known as “The Bob,” the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a beautifully engineered suspension bridge that floats 60 feet above the Missouri River and connects two states: Nebraska and Iowa. The 3,000-foot-long walkway connects Omaha, Nebraska, to Council Bluffs, Iowa. There’s a spot on the Bridge that delineates the states’ borders, which is a photo op hot spot where all visitors young and old straddle the state line – also called “Bobbing.” Both sides of the bridge land in gorgeously landscaped all-access parks and link to over 150 miles of nature trails. The Omaha side boasts a splash pad and walk along the riverbank, while the Iowa side features a newly built amphitheater. The pathway is paved, generously wide and has gradual inclines to accommodate enthusiasts of all abilities.
When in Omaha, there are some things you HAVE to do, like visit the amazing Omaha Zoo and walk The Bob. Because The Bob is a paved trail and a pedestrian bridge, you can rest assure that if your toddler gets a little bit ahead of you, you don’t have to worry that he’ll trip and get hurt. It connects to other trails on both the Nebraska and Iowa sides to make the distance any length you want. Plus, how often can you say you were in two states at one time by straddling the state line with one foot in Nebraska and the other in Iowa while suspended over a river? – Vong Hamilton
- In the summer, schedule your walk to coincide with one of the entertainment events on the Iowa side and make an evening of it for the entire family.
- Remember to pack swim clothes and reward the kiddos at the splash pad before heading back the way you came.
- The bridge is stroller-friendly and short enough for little legs to walk on their own.
More Resources for Families with Young Children
Nebraska state offers an abundance of trails for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- Outdoor Nebraska
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
If you’re traveling through Nebraska and need more information or recommendations on trails or would like to join a group hike, the nearest Hike it Baby branches are in Lincoln and Omaha.
- 3 Trails to explore with young children in Missouri
- 3 Kid-friendly trails in Kansas for young children
- 3 Kid-friendly hikes in Iowa to explore with young children
What are your favorite hikes in Nebraska for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!
Trail contributions also provided by Jessica Kadavy and Christine Stewart.