Exciting outdoor opportunities surrounding Omaha

By EllaPlank

As the seasons change and the weather cools down in the Midwest, we find ourselves with new opportunities to explore the outdoors. There are many activities at different recreational areas throughout the Omaha area that offer the opportunity to experience nature.

Seniors Matilda Lang, Mary Ambrose, Ella Plank and Bria Hamilton at Hitchcock in October 2021. Photo Courtesy of Hamilton

One recreational area that became popular during the pandemic was Hitchcock Nature Center, located in Pottawattamie County, Iowa (about 23 minutes from Marian). Hitchcock offers hiking, camping, and many other activities during all seasons. Senior Bria Hamilton says that she “really enjoys Hitchcock in the fall because the view is very pretty with all of the trees changing colors.”

The activities Hitchcock offers range from guided hikes to endurance runs. The guided hikes are all year long, ranging from a Witchy Woods Walk in October to a Winter Solstice Night Hike in December. The price is very reasonable to hike at Hitchcock as you only have to pay $5 for parking. However, some guided hikes require a small fee, but some are also offered for free. Also, right next to Hitchcock is Mt. Crescent Ski Area. This offers a great opportunity to get outside during the winter season.

In Sarpy County, there is Fontenelle Forest. Fontenelle offers a wide range of activities. However, in order to explore the trails of Fontenelle regularly it is recommended that you become a member, otherwise the money might add up. Membership for one adult is $50 and $70 for a household for a whole year. A membership will allow you free admission to hike the 24 miles of trails anytime. It will also give you discounts on other activities Fontenelle offers like guided hikes and nature classes for all ages. If you do not want to become a member, you can buy a general admission ticket for one day. The ticket costs $11 for an adult, $10 for 62 and older, $8 for ages 2-17, and children under the age of 2 receive free admission. Fontenelle also offers TreeRush Adventures which consist of ziplines and high wire courses.

Freshman Caroline Keating says that her “favorite outdoor park is Fontenelle Forest because it is fun to go hiking there with my family.” Recreational parks can provide families and friends with an opportunity to get outside in many different ways.

Roughly 6 miles from Marian is Lake Cunningham in north central Omaha. It offers camping, shing, bicycling, and much more. This provides an opportunity for all Marian girls to experience the outdoors due to its convenient location and free admission.

Lastly, in West Omaha is Lake Zorinsky. It offers trails, playgrounds, soccer fields, and much more. Sophomore Delaney Olson says her “favorite outdoor park would be Lake Zorinsky. With cross country, we have some morning practices there and the environment is always so peaceful. I love how there’s a multitude of things to do at the park for all ages and you can really just relax and enjoy the view.” No matter what you are doing at Zorinsky, if it is running or having a picnic with friends, you will never regret going because of the breathtaking view of the lake.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, being outside helps increase life expectancy, increase our attention span and reduce air pollution, etc. Outdoor recreational areas provide us with an opportunity to get outside each day which will then improve our mental and physical health.

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