By Becky Seth
Lincoln is such a walk-able city, where scenic parks, paths and trails abound. If you love short runs or walks, or to just ramble in and around the city, writer and naturalist Becky Seth compiled a list for the 10 most scenic walks around the city for Lincoln Today. Whether you are a resident or visiting, or exploring the carefully laid-out trails, these recommended walks are definitely worth a stroll.
1 Pioneers Park and the contiguous Nature Center (entrances on South Coddington and West Van Dorn)
The park is one of Lincoln’s largest, designed by Ernst Herminghaus and placed on the National Register of outstanding landscape architecture in 1993. Its trails wind past sculptures, ponds, a playground and a picnic area. The west end leads into Pioneers Park Nature Center with its eight miles of hiking trails through woodlands, wetlands and tallgrass prairie. Gardens and exhibit animals invite pausing for a closer look. Go to parks.lincoln.ne.gov/naturecenter for a Nature Center trail map. (Dogs and other pets are not allowed in the Nature Center).
2 Wilderness Park (parking areas on Pioneers Blvd., Old Cheney, 14th St. and Saltillo Rd.)
The trails of this linear park are mostly wooded, stretching along Salt Creek and offering many opportunities to view birds and other wildlife. Some bridges are out but the trail is continuous from Pioneers to 14th.
3 The Haymarket area (north of O St., west of 9th St.), the Salt Dog’s Stadium and around Oak Lake
The Haymarket area features historic buildings, art galleries and many great places to get a meal or snack. A pedestrian bridge on 8th Street leads to the baseball stadium and you can easily wend your way west and north to Oak Lake.
4 The University of Nebraska City Campus, the Antelope Valley Project and the north end of the Billy Wolff Trail
Strolling the UNL City Campus, enjoy the “Torn Notebook,” a Claes Oldenburg sculpture (Q and 12th Streets), the Sheldon Art Gallery with surrounding outdoor sculpture garden, other campus buildings, the Love Library gardens, and Broyhill Fountain at the Student Union. Just north of the football stadium, go east and walk through the recently completed Antelope Valley Project on the Billy Wolff Trail. Continuing on the trail, visit the Sunken, Rose and Rotary Gardens at 27th and Capital Parkway.
5 Holmes Lake and the Billy Wolff Trail east (70th and Normal Blvd.)
Walk around Holmes Lake (particularly nice at sunset) and continue east on the Billy Wolff Trail through wooded areas and several city parks.
6 The Rock Island Trail (A & 29th St. to Densmore Park)
This trail with large wooded stretches winds through Antelope Park and neighborhoods.
7 The Tierra/Williamsburg Trail (27th and Highway 2 south past Pine Lake Rd.)
Another trail that winds through lovely neighborhoods past many small ponds.
8 Jamaica North Trail (Pioneers Blvd. east of 1st St., south to Saltillo Rd. & 26th and beyond)
This rails-to-trails path runs along Wilderness Park, has long wooded stretches and offers rich possibilities for wildlife viewing. It continues as the Homestead Trail, which will soon be completed all the way to the Kansas border and beyond.
9 MoPac Trail (84th and Hazelwood Dr. east to Wabash, Nebraska)
Another rails-to-trails project that winds through suburban neighborhoods, wooded areas and fields.
10 Nine Mile Prairie (Fletcher Ave. west of W. 48th)
This 200 acre tallgrass prairie has a network of trails that offer a glimpse of the ecosystem that once stretched down the center of the U.S.
For a map of many of the options listed here, visit the Great Plains Trail Network at http://www.gptn.org/ or consult the map in the Lincoln phone book.