Trails

Walking our trails is an experience unlike any other in the Omaha metro area. In a single afternoon, you’ll encounter a range of vastly different ecosystems, from deciduous forest to oak savanna, prairie, and wetlands.

Visitor Center Area

With a total of 3.4 miles, this group includes a one-mile boardwalk and various difficulties of trails through the woods. There is also a trail that runs along Childs Hollow through the wetland area to a view of the river. These provide several opportunities to see our oak woodland restoration relatively up close.

  • The Nature Center: This 25,000 square foot building is home to classrooms, rotating exhibits, and our main offices. Stop by the front desk to grab a map and check the ranger board for the latest on wildlife activity.
  • Acorn Acres: Located just outside of the Nature Center, this natural playscape offers children a unique place for unstructured play and outdoor learning.
  • Habitat Hollow: This short, level trail is a great option when you want a short jaunt off the boardwalk.
  • Riverview Boardwalk: Recommended for all first time visitors, the wooden boardwalk’s three interconnected loops make for a pleasant, mud-free hike in any weather. This barrier-free trail is also well suited to baby strollers.

Northern Floodplains

Mostly flat, sandy trails wind through the northern part of our floodplain, with the Missouri Trail featuring wonderful views of the river. Since this is a wetland, the area can often be muddy or have some standing water.

  • Camp Gifford: A young Henry Fonda spent time with other scouts at Camp Gifford. You can still see concrete bunkhouse foundations from the Stream Trail.
  • Stream Trail: Hike along the stream where you can see beavers, frogs, and other wildlife.
  • Cottonwood Trail: Explore giant cottonwood trees on this level trail that crosses the floodplain.

Northern Uplands

North of Camp Gifford Road, this section containing 2.5 miles of undulating trails through our upland forest is an exceptionally tranquil place to enjoy nature. These mostly have moderate slope, with a few steep slopes along the way.

  • Earth Lodges: Along the ridges of Oak Trail and Hawthorn Trail you can find depressions that mark 1,000 year-old sites of Native American earth lodges.
  • Scenic, ridge-top Oak Trail: A bit over one mile long with plenty of vertical travel, Oak Trail can give you a workout. It follows a ridge with scenic views and 250 year-old bur oak trees.
  • Child’s MIll: In the 1850s, Charles Childs owned a large section of Fontenelle Forest. His and other logging operations left trails throughout the forest, some of which eventually became the trails we hike today.

Southern Uplands

Full of cues from Bellevue, Nebraska’s storied history, these moderate-to-steep trails take you on an amazing journey. Pick up a History brochure at the front desk—and travel back in time.

  • Mormon Hollow: Follow a deep ravine along traces of a Mormon pioneer trail first blazed in the summer of 1846.
  • Springs and streams: Find plenty of serene springs and picturesque miniature waterfalls along the Mormon Hollow trail.
  • History Trail: Follow a self-guided tour of fifteen historic locations throughout Fontenelle Forest.

Southern Floodplain

Walk along our Great Marsh, or take the level boardwalk out to our bird blind. If you’re up for a longer hike, head out to Hidden Lake on the mostly level trail.

  • Trailheads at the Wetlands Learning Center: With five trailheads nearby, the Wetlands Learning Center is a great spot to park and while you discover a new trail.
  • Gifford Memorial Boardwalk: This level, barrier-free trail takes you on a half mile journey through wetland and cottonwoods to the observation blind.
  • Observation Blind: Looks out over the Great Marsh, which is a “river scar” marking a former channel of the Missouri.

Visitor Services

FAQs

Hours

8 a.m. -5 p.m. daily.
Summer hours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon-Fri,
8 a.m. -5 p.m.

*Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Prices

$11 per adult
$10 per senior (62+)
$8 per child/student (2-17)
Free for children under age 2
Free for members
(sales tax included)

Fobs

Keyless access fobs are distributed on request to members during business hours at Visitor Services for $11.21. This means you can access the trails when the Nature Center is closed.

•Please check the alerts on the Home Page for updated member gate hours.

Snow Closure Policy

If there is a snow closure, we will post it on every local news station, the Omaha World-Herald, on our social media, and our website.

Photo Policy

Photos are encouraged at the Forest.
If you plan on doing a professional photo shoot, our sitting fee is $125 for non-members and $100 for members.

Please contact the director of development and marketing at (402) 731-3140 ext. 1014 for requests.

Rentals

Rent binoculars, power scooters, wheelchairs, strollers, or snowshoes (seasonally) from Visitor Services.

Trail Guidelines

  • Leave all plants and animals undisturbed for others to enjoy; no collecting or picking of any sort is allowed.
  • Stay on the trails.
  • Use caution when crossing the railroad tracks, which remain in active use. Do not walk on the tracks.
  • Camping, jogging, and bicycling are not permitted. No motorized vehicles are permitted beyond the parking lots except for disabled persons’ access.
  • Pets and horses are not permitted.
  • No smoking or fires are allowed.
  • Picnic only in the areas designated for that purpose.
  • Carry your trash out with you.
  • Hunting, fishing, and musical equipment are not allowed, except with prior permission.

Fontenelle Forest is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit.

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