Lincoln Has Lakes

Holmes Lake

by Sriyani Tidball, photography by Tom Tidball

Lakes around Lincoln are a great place to go for a run, do some fishing, take a walk, do some grilling, have a picnic, enjoy
kayaking, paddle boarding or even go swimming. Lincoln lakes are a good place to get a quick taste of nature nestled in suburbia throughout the year. Even in the wintertime, people ice skate and on a rare occasion you might see fire dancing on the lake. 

A few of Lincoln’s lakes for you to explore:

Holmes Lake Park is the largest lake in Lincoln. Every single day, you can count on lots of people enjoying this park. A beautiful place to go for a run, or go fishing, or take your dog for a walk. However, this lake is not recommended for swimming. The crushed limestone trail around the lake makes it great for running, jogging, and biking. Water-sports buffs, who are usually super friendly and chilled out, love this lake. Walking around the lake is about a two-mile loop. A common sight is seeing people fishing or having a family picnic. Many come here for a picturesque sunset, which is always lovely! Holmes Lake is truly a nice little city lake.  

Pioneers Park Nature Center

If you would like to visit a lake that also has miles of hiking trails, lots of water, and even a herd of bison, then you would love Pioneers Park, comprised of 668 acres of tallgrass prairie, woodlands, wetlands and the Haines Branch stream. There is a lot to do here which includes; enjoying the playground, the nature trails, and a lovely man-made lake where you can feed the geese. The Pioneers Park Nature Center is part of the City of Lincoln’s Park and Recreation Department. One of the features of this place is the wildlife as you explore the hiking trails that wind through various habitats and takes you past hawks, owls, elk, and deer, and if you climb the small hill and look toward the southwest you might just see the herd of bison that roam free here.

Oak Lake Park 

This lake is nothing spectacular but it’s great for something close to downtown. If you need a place to wind down and watch the sunset and to be lost in your own thoughts while listening to the birds singing and the water gently lapping at your feet, Oak Lake is just a hop, step, and a way from downtown Lincoln. 

Bowling Lake Park is a reservoir located just 7.6 miles just outside Lincoln. Anglers love this lake as they can find a variety of fish including large-mouth bass, crappie, small-mouth bass, bream, and bluegill. The 52-acre community park features boating, non-motorized fishing, ice skating, picnic tables, and open shelters. This small lake, in the middle of Air Park area has become a much nicer spot since they updated the fishing area. Often you can spot some wildlife, like waterfowl and beaver. Bowling Lake is a 28-acre artificial impoundment owned by the Lincoln Airport Authority (LAA) and leased to the City of Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) manages the fishery of the lake. 

Wagon Train State Recreation Area

A great state park where you can swim, just 30 minutes from Lincoln. Wagon Train requires an entry permit that may be purchased at statewide Game and Parks offices and permit vendors online in advance of your arrival. This is a nice quiet campground east of Hickman, Nebraska, comprises 746 acres of land and a 315-acre lake with great fishing. You can come here just to enjoy the lake for the afternoon with some great fishing or plan a camping trip and spend a few days in nature. The area offers boating, fishing, picnicking and a swimming beach. There are 28 camping pads with electricity (some 50 amp) and 80 non-pad sites without electricity. The camp site offers pit toilets, no showers, and no water hook-ups, but water is readily available throughout the park hydrants. 

Pawnee State Recreational Area.  

Located on the edge of Lincoln at 3800 NW 105th Street this park is a great place for kids. An awesome little stop off I-80, with picnic benches, a beach, and a great lake. Here too you can spend a few days as it is a beautiful quiet location with nice campsites, and great for walks, runs and hikes. Although often full, you can find a camp spot here. There are RV spaces that are easy to find and that offer no hook-ups. Just an FYI bring coins for the shower. 

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