Omaha Riverfront Trail

Nebraska

6 Reviews

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Omaha Riverfront Trail Facts

States: Nebraska
Counties: Douglas, Washington
Length: 20.1 miles
Trail end points: South Omaha Veterans Memorial Bridge to S. 2nd St. and Hickory St.; Heartland of America Park and Miller's Landing Park; E. Locust St. and Abbott Dr. to Boyer Chute NWR
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 7501213

Omaha Riverfront Trail Description

The Omaha Riverfront Trail is currently open in three sections along the Missouri River in Nebraska's largest city.

In the south, the trail begins at Missouri Avenue/US 275's approach to the South Omaha Veterans Memorial Bridge. The vehicular bridge, located south of downtown Omaha, includes the separated Veterans Memorial Trail, which connects trail users to Council Bluffs' extensive trail system just across the river.

North of the bridge on the Nebraska side, the Omaha Riverfront Trail was constructed on a levee road. Gates across this portion of the trail are often closed to prevent access by vehicles, but trail use is permitted unless otherwise noted. The trail runs between the Missouri River and active BNSF Railway tracks, but the route is a peaceful place to ride, run, walk or skate. Currently, the best place to exit this section of the trail is at the intersection of Hickory Street and S. 2nd Street. If you're looking for a challenge, consider riding or running up the steep hill on Hickory Street; refer to the map for the exact location.

The middle section of the trail offers a completely different experience than the southern portion. Begin your journey at Heartland of America Park, located just north of ConAgra Foods' corporate headquarters. The park features a large lake with a walking path, several fountains and tour boat rides in the summer. Check out the stunning views of the Omaha skyline to the west of the lake.

From Heartland of America Park, the trail continues north under Interstate 480. The trail next approaches Lewis and Clark Landing, the site of the duo's landing in what is now Omaha in 1804. The park includes interpretive exhibits, memorials and picnic tables along the river, as well as a pedestrian bridge to CenturyLink Center Omaha, home to college sports and other popular events. Just north of Lewis and Clark Landing along the trail is the new regional headquarters for the National Park Service.

Serving as a stunning backdrop to most of the aforementioned locations on the trail, the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is an architectural landmark for the region. The bridge, which begins just north of the NPS regional headquarters building, takes trail users to the Iowa Riverfront Trail on the other side of the Missouri River. Just north of the bridge in Omaha sits the headquarters building for Gallup, the famous polling company. The local icon paid for the colorful dancing lights atop the bridge's pylons, which are clearly visible from the company's building and much of Omaha and Council Bluffs.

The middle section of the Omaha Riverfront Trail ends at Gallup's headquarters just south of the oddly-drawn border with Carter Lake, Iowa. Plans call for filling in the gap between the middle and northern portions of the trail within the next year, but for now, rejoin the trail at the intersection of Abbott Drive and E. Locust Street. North of here, the Omaha Riverfront Trail is wedged between Eppley Airfield and Carter Lake. The trail shortly rejoins the Missouri River and runs north on its longest route into Washington County. The nearly 15-mile-long section of trail parallels John J. Pershing Drive and ends at scenic Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was established in 1996 by the federal government to recover fish and wildlife habitat along the Missouri River.

Omaha is making it a priority to connect the three portions of the Omaha Riverfront Trail, as well as to extend it southward. Until then, take advantage of a nice day and explore one section or enjoy all three!

Parking and Trail Access

Parking for the Omaha Riverfront Trail can be found at Heartland of America Park on Douglas Street. Lewis and Clark Landing and the National Park Service regional headquarters also both have large parking lots on Riverfront Drive. Additional parking can be found in a lot off Freedom Park Road near Abbott Drive.

There is a small parking lot at the trailhead for the northern section of the trail at the intersection of E. Locust Street and Abbott Drive. Three more parking lots can be found along the shore of Carter Lake; access them via Abbott Drive or Carter Lake Drive. To the north, park at Dodge Park or Boyer Chute NWR.

Omaha Riverfront Trail Reviews

Northen Trail Poorly Maintained

Road the section of this trail that starts north of NP Dodge Park and was disappointed. Too much of the "trail" is simply a paved area directly adjunct to the road, so you're biking with cars and motorcycles during a good portion of the trip. And when you're not on the road you're on an overgrown, somewhat dystopian-looking path adjacent to corn fields and farm driveways marked with "Trespassers will be Shot" signs. Not fun.

Middle = Confusing, North = Nice

Skated the middle section and had the same problem as everyone else with getting lost. Needs way more signs. The northern section was very nice though! Nice views of the Missouri River and Carter Lake that overshadow the not-so-nice views of an oil refinery, wastewater plant, and trailerpark. I skated from the Carter Lake trailhead in the south to the top of the big hill near Ponca Road. Beware of gravel and sticks that cover the pavement in a few areas.

Very poorly marked

The trail is great—if you can find it. Signage is all but nonexistent and you end up in some pretty isolated (unsafe?) industrial areas if you’re brave enough to go looking for the southernmost section. Markings for the middle section, even for shared lanes around Heartland of America Park, are also either nonexistent or poorly located. Even the northern section, which is fantastic, is extremely easy to miss—and first-time riders are more likely to end up at the airport terminals or on another sketchy industrial detour than on the trail through Carter Lake. City planners need to get it together. It’s too good a resource to push people away because of laziness/negligence. For continuity’s sake, it’s best to stay on the east side of the river.

Can be confusing

Like another poster has mentioned, this trail can be VERY confusing especially in northern omaha. The signs have been removed/vandalized making it nearly impossible. Once you figure it out its great, relatively flat and enjoyable.

Accordion

looks good on map but hard to find

this trail is difficult to piece together when riding. It lacks good signs to direct bikers on how to stay on the trail.

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