Walking & Running Around Lincoln

By Sriyani Tidball

Lincoln has 58 trails covering 377 miles, so, whether you are a biker, a runner or a walker this city has amazing trails, beautiful avenues and pavements, for your pleasure. Lincoln boasts of being one of the best places to go for a walk.

My idea of a walk involves plenty of trees for shade, so I love to head to the Wilderness Park Trails. The park is massive, and located just five miles south of downtown Lincoln with over 1,400 acres of land in the midst of an extensive network of trails that span over 10 miles. The trails are mostly dirt and cross through woodlands and circle around beautiful streams. Trails are used by cyclists as well as hikers. Just as the name signifies, the park is mostly unkept wilderness with loads of trails. The crushed limestone 6.5-mile Jamaica North Trail located within the park, is where many like to walk. Each trail type is denoted by signs along the trails. You can always have new places to explore. The dirt paths are marked for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and multiple uses. Wilderness park is a great place to visit the countryside without actually leaving town. You will catch a glimpse of some wildlife too, if you are lucky. Parking areas are on Pioneers Blvd., Old Cheney, 14th St. and Saltillo Rd.

Not too far from here is Pioneers Park and the famed Nature Center (entrances on South Coddington and West Van Dorn). The Park, that offers many trails, is one of Lincoln’s largest parks, with 668 acres of tallgrass prairie, woodlands, wetlands and a stream. It was placed on the National Register of outstanding landscape architecture in 1993. The west end leads into Pioneers Park Nature Center which offers eight miles of hiking trails through woodlands, wetlands and tall grass prairie. Go to parks.lincoln.ne.gov/naturecenter for a Nature Center trail map before you start your walk. (Dogs and other pets are not allowed in the Nature Center).

Looking for nature while you walk, then try the Nine Mile Prairie from Fletcher Avenue west of W. 48th Street. The 200-acre tall-grass prairie has a network of trails that offers 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 www.gptn.org/.

Another scenic trail is the Highlands Trail that offers a pleasant, three-mile loop through Lincoln’s Highlands neighborhood. Supporting its role as a community connector, this paved trail crosses Nebraska Technology Park on its south end. It’s a loop trail for hikers who prefer to see all new scenery for the entirety of their walks—you don’t double back during your hike. 

The Helen Boosalis Trail runs for nearly four miles across the city from the Indian Village neighborhood to the Edgewood Shopping Center. This is more an urban pathway that connects several residential neighborhoods and showcases lots of homes and gardens. A nice way to see life in Lincoln without intruding on anyone’s privacy. The Rock Island Trail from A and 29th streets to Densmore Park a trail with large wooded stretches winding through Antelope Park and residential neighborhoods offers the same. The MoPac Trail from 84th Street and Hazelwood Dr. east to Wabash, Nebraska also winds through suburban neighborhoods, wooded areas and fields taking you through beautiful country.

The closest trail to my home is Holmes Lake at 70th St. and Normal Blvd. which offers a great walk around the Lake (particularly lovely at sunset). The 112-acre recreation area has much open space and offers many recreational activities including fishing. Holmes Lake Trail, made of crushed limestone, encircles the lake for over two miles.

Wanting a more urban walk? Then, the University of Nebraska City Campus and the Antelope Valley Project is a a wonderful place for a walk, even if you are not attending classes. While 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 and other campus buildings. 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, you can visit the Sunken, Rose and Rotary Gardens at 27th and Capital Parkway.

Not too far away is The Haymarket area located north of O St. west of 9th St. I love to walk past the amazing Salt Dogs’ stadium and around Oak Lake which envelops the Haymarket area, that is ever expanding. This area features many historic buildings, art galleries and truly great places to get a meal or an excellent cup of java. A pedestrian bridge on 8th Street leads to the baseball stadium and you can easily wind your way west and north to Oak Lake. 

Walking around Lincoln is a wonderful experience, specially as the options are endless. This city has been designed for walking! 

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