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15 Scenic Trails for Hiking in Nebraska

 

If you are searching for the best trails for hiking in Nebraska, then you have come to the right place.

Nebraska, a popular place to visit in Midwest, is home to lots of beautiful landscapes and attractions for visitors to explore.

The Durham Museum, Carhenge, Chimney Rock Museum, etc. are a few of the must-visit places in Nebraska that make for a perfect Midwest vacation.

Apart from these historical and unique attractions, Nebraska also features many state parks and recreational areas that make it the best spot for hiking.

From Scotts Bluff National Monument to Indian State Cave Park, there is no shortage of fun hiking trails in Nebraska.

Whether you wish to hike through tallgrass prairies or stroll along the Missouri River, this Cornhusker State has it all.

Are you looking for some cool places in Nebraska to go hiking? If so, then read our list of the 15 scenic trails for hiking in Nebraska for outdoor enthusiasts!

15 Scenic Trails for Hiking in Nebraska

15 Scenic Trails for Hiking in Nebraska

Indian Cave State Park

Are you looking for cool places in Nebraska for hiking outdoors?

Located in Shubert, this place offers one of the best Nebraska state parks hiking experiences for adventure and outdoor enthusiasts.

It is a public recreation area that covers approximately 3,400 acres and is located beside the Missouri River.

With over 22 miles of hiking trails, this is undoubtedly one of the best parks for hiking in Nebraska.

One of the main attractions of this state park is the hardwood forest here and the hills that overlook the Missouri River.

Apart from being an amazing Midwest hiking destination, it also features camping areas where you can enjoy both primitive and RV camping. There are many other adventure and wilderness activities to enjoy here as well.

Red staircase leading to a cave surrounded by greenery hiking in Nebraska

Platte River State Park

A great place for hiking near Omaha, Platte River State Park is one of the best attractions to visit in Omaha.

The Platte River State Park features the best Nebraska scenery and is home to many well-marked trails that make it a great place to visit with friends and family.

Moreover, it is also home to the most gorgeous waterfalls in Midwest and is perfect for a fall vacation.

Platte River State Park is the top Omaha hiking trail which is approximately 7 miles long and is perfect for spending a day in nature and enjoying picnic with family.

There are many small creeks and grassy meadows filled with wildflowers on this trail that you can thoroughly enjoy.

The loop trail features changing scenery and is peppered with waterfalls and picnic spots beside the creek, making it an ideal spot for hiking in Nebraska.

Big waterfall surrounded by autumn trees hiking in nebraska

Chalco Hills Recreation Area

One of the top things to do in Omaha is visiting the Chalco Hills Recreation Area that is popular for hiking trails and beautiful scenery.

Wehrspann Lake is one such place in this area that you must visit and makes for a great Omaha hiking trail as well.

The trail to the lake is a 6.9 mile hike and one can observe many animal on the way including deers, rabbits, squirrels, and more.

Although it’s not a popular hiking trail, Wehrspann Lake is quite popular for fishing, biking, and picnics.

However, if you wish to enjoy a day hiking outdoors, then this place is perfect for that as well.

This is one of the best Nebraska hiking trails for families and features indigenous trees that are marked with a plaque for information.

The trail is also easy and well-marked with several picnic tables and benches where visitors can relax for a while.

Overall, this is a great place to enjoy hiking near Omaha.

A group of people walking on a trail

Chadron State Park

A great Nebraska state park hiking destination, Chadron State Park features a little bit of everything.

Chadron State Park Loop is a great trail to explore that begins from the campgrounds inside the park and offers gorgeous views of Nebraska’s Pine ridge.

Although this is not a challenging hike, it will lead to a workout and the scenery will keep changing throughout the way.

From grassy meadows to pine ridge, to gorges, you will encounter different types of Nebraska scenery on the trail.

There are many amazing viewpoints as well that offer stunning views of badlands and are worth the ascend.

There are several other activities to enjoy here apart from hiking. Horseback riding, fishing, swimming, camping, etc. are a few more fun activities to enjoy in this park.

Bighorn sheep in wilderness

Pine Ridge Trail

Are you looking for long and fun hiking trails in Nebraska? If the answer is yes, then Pine Ridge Trail is perfect for you.

With 40 miles in length, this is one of the longest trails for hiking in Nebraska and is ideal for extreme hikers and adventure enthusiasts.

On this trail, you will cover the most rural areas of northern Nebraska.

There are two ways to enter this trail – Chadron and Crawford. There are several camping options available at both places.

Since these trails take around 3-5 days to complete, be prepared for camping on the way.

One of the best things about Pine Ridge Trail is that it features varied scenery with the Ponderosa pine forest transforming into cliffs surrounded by lush green valleys and more.

From grasslands to pine forests, to prairie plains, the trail takes you through the stunning Nebraska scenery.

If you don’t want to commit to such a long hike, then don’t worry. There are several smaller hiking trails also available that let you experience the Pine Ridge Trail.

A woman wearing white t-shirt walking in the woods hiking in nebraska

Smith Falls State Park

Another beautiful waterfall that you can explore on a Nebraska state park hiking trail is the Smith Falls which is located inside Smith Falls State Park.

The waterfall is 63 feet high and Instagram-worthy. And should definitely be on your list when exploring Nebraska.

Visitors can go on the 1.1-mile long out-and-back trail that covers the Niobrara River as well.

The trail includes crossing a wooden footbridge over the river and a gorgeous forest teeming with wildlife.

Perfect for beginners, the trail is short and easy and filled with informational plaques on the route.

If you are new to hiking and want to enjoy your day hiking to a beautiful location, then Smith Falls State Park is the perfect place for you.

Small waterfall surrounded by trees hiking in nebraska

Saddle Rock Trail, Scotts Bluff National Monument

One of the best hiking trails to admire mountains in Nebraska, Saddle Rock Trail in Scotts Bluff National Monument will take you to Scotts Bluff’s summit.

This trail is ideal for experienced hikers who are physically fit. It is a 3-mile long out-and-back hiking trail and a popular one in Nebraska.

The main highlight of this hike is the foot tunnel that opens up to the bluff and one can see the Saddle Rock over the tunnel.

The best thing about this trail is the rock formations on the upper part that are quite unique and have a beautiful color.

Since rockslides are quite frequent here, hikers are advised to check at the visitor center before starting the hike.

City and mountain view from a trail

Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area

One of the best places to enjoy hiking activities in Nebraska is Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area.

This park features beautiful natural scenery and offers many fun activities such as hiking, tanking, picnicking, and more. Lake Ogallala Trail is a popular hiking trail here that is 9-miles long.

It is an out-and-back hike that offers stunning views of Lake Ogallala and different species of birds as well. As there is an elevation gain of 72 meters, this hiking trail is perfect for families as well.

Plan a trip to this park in the summer or spring seasons as you will find wildflowers in abundance which makes for a good picnic spot as well.

If you are looking for a scenic trail and easy hiking experience in Nebraska, then Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area is perfect!

Water splashing in a lake surrounded by green ground
Editorial credit: Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

Wildcat Hills State Recreation Are Offers Some Of The Best HIking In Nebraska

If you wish to admire the mountains in Nebraska, then Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area is perfect for hiking in Nebraska.

Cedar Hills Ridge is a one-mile trail is located near Gering and is an easy hike with an elevation gain of just 209 feet.

Although the trail is a bit rugged and narrow, the stunning scenery around you will leave you speechless, especially the rocky bluffs.

There are many other exciting trails as well for experienced hikers and you should definitely stop and enjoy the views on the way.

You can easily spend an entire day at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area and can even encounter wildlife such as bighorn sheep, moose, and more.

So, if you want a fun yet unique hiking experience in Nebraska, then do visit Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area.

Green and brownish hills hiking in nebraska

Cowboy Trail

Although still under construction, Cowboy Trail is one of the best Nebraska hiking trails to consider.

Once the Rails to Trails conversion is complete, Cowboy Trail State Recreation Area will feature 321 miles of hiking trails and 221 bridges.

However, many parts of this trail are currently open to visitors and is a great way to admire Nebraska’s beauty.

The trail begins from Norfolk in the east and ends at Valentine in the west.

If you are planning to hike on this trail, then you will be greeted with tall grass and mixed grass prairies, Niobrara National Scenic River, Sandhills prairie, and more.

Furthermore, you will be crossing the river using a 148 foot tall, historic rail bridge that makes this trail a unique hiking opportunity for visitors.

Apart from hiking activities, this trail is perfect for biking and small walks as well.

Long trail overlooking the valley and green trees

Rock Bluff Run Trail

Are you looking for a more challenging hike in Midwest? If so, then Rock Bluff Run Trail is perfect for you.

This is one of the most amazing hiking trails in Nebraska that is tough but lots of fun and offers stunning views throughout the way.

The hiking trail is 6 miles long and includes an elevation gain of 1,100 feet so it can take a full day to complete this NE hike.

Located in Indian Cave State Park, the trail is filled with beautiful green fields and is home to fauna such as rabbits, squirrels, songbirds, and more.

Honestly, the expanding views from the top of the trail make this challenging hike worth the effort. If you want something exciting, then check out this trail for hiking in Nebraska.

Woman walking amidst greenery and trees

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

One of the best places for hiking near Omaha is Eugene T. Mahoney State Park.

Located along the Platte River, this state park is one of the top things to do in Nebraska and can be visited throughout the year.

The park features a lot of amenities and activities which make it a perfect destination to enjoy with friends and family.

There is a swimming pool with slides, miniature golf, horseback riding trails, fishing, paddle boats, and many cool hiking trails available in this state park.

In the winter, you can also enjoy some fun activities such as sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and more here.

If you are looking for fun Nebraska state park hiking trails, then this place is perfect.

They have all kinds of trails to suit different kinds of hiking enthusiasts and offer a few family-friendly hiking trails as well.

Such as Mahoney Short Loop, Peter Kiewit Lodge to Observation Tower Loop, and more.

For those who love hiking and other outdoor activities, Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is one of the best places for hiking in Nebraska.

Girl walking through autumn trees hiking in nebraska

Hidden Lake Trail, Fontanelle Forest Is A Fun Hiking Trail in Nebraska

Are you looking for fun Omaha hiking trails to explore? If yes, then do check out Hidden Lake Trail in Fontanelle Forest.

One of the most adventurous trails for hiking in Nebraska, Hidden Lake Trail is an out-and-back hike and is situated between the Great Marsh and the Missouri River.

The trail is mostly flat with a few overgrowths and steep climbs at a few places but is perfect for those who want solitude amidst gorgeous Nebraska nature.

Moreover, this trail is perfect for birdwatching as you can see a variety of birds here such as owls, hawks, ospreys, and so on. You will also find beavers, deers, and other smaller animals in the area.

Since these are wetlands, be careful of the bugs here so as to enjoy your hike thoroughly. Make sure to bring plenty of bug spray to protect yourself and your family.

Boardwalk trail through a lush forest hiking in nebraska

Boots & Saddle Trail, Nebraska National Forest

One of the hidden gems of the Midwest, the Boots & Saddle trail in Nebraska National Forest is another great place for a Nebraska hiking experience.

Located in Soldier Wilderness Creek, the trail takes you through unique Nebraska nature scenery and is approximately 7 miles long.

This is also one of the challenging hiking trails in Nebraska and can easily take you a full day to complete it.

The best thing about this trail is that you won’t find many people here so, you can enjoy some solitude while marveling at the gorgeous views around you.

This long loop trail is located north of North Fork Soldier Creek and features an elevation of approximately 4,300 feet.

On this hiking trail, you will walk along streams, hike on ridges, and enter a few canyons also on the way, making it an exciting trail for most outdoor enthusiasts.

So, whether you want to witness some amazing landscape or are looking to do a challenging hike, Boots and Saddle Trail is one of the best choices for you!

Sign for boots and saddle trail hiking in nebraska

Toadstool Geological Park Offers Unique Hiking In Nebraska

Toadstool Geological Park is one of the unique and cool places in Nebraska for hiking in the Midwest.

Located in Harrison, one of the small towns in Nebraska, Toadstool Trail is under 1 mile and is one of the best trails for hiking in Nebraska.

Although it is mostly a flat loop trail, the views on this route will truly mesmerize you.

The unique geological formations in the area make this simple hike totally worth the effort.

Furthermore, there are many small trails that connect to the Toadstool Trail that you can enjoy in this park.

In fact, you can pack a lunch and plan a picnic here, and spend an entire day exploring the numerous trails that can be found here.

Overall, this is a great Nebraska hiking trail to explore with your family.

Big rocks scattered throughout the field hiking in nebraska

Packing List When Hiking In Kansas

If you are searching, here are some tips on how to pack lightly when packing when heading to hike in Nebraska.

concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when hiking in NE.   It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.

This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can place it under your clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.

If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.

If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.

I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.

My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.

It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking Insta-worthy selfies at all the cool places to hike in Nebraska that you explore.

I never much believed in using packing cubes when traveling. That is until I tried them. Now I am hooked. These are the exact cubes I use to stay organized when I pack for a trip!

You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.

I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for your adventures and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.

Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car. Then this collapsible silicone water bottle would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.

You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. . No matter the time of day or evening.

This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. And it comes in many different colors!

Nebraska is one of the coolest destinations for an epic Midwest weekend getaway.

It offers very diverse places to hike and you have so many options to consider when planning to hike in Nebraska!

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