Omaha’s Fontenelle Forest, coupled with Neale Woods Nature Center in Bellevue, encompasses over 2,100 acres of forest, prairie and wetlands, with 19 miles of hiking.
Fontenelle Forest has trails that are open from sunrise to sunset along with various group hikes, night hikes and nature events. It also partners with Tree Rush to offer seven aerial trails through the treetops, over one hundred aerial challenges and ten zip lines.
The Riverview Boardwalk area features a one-mileADA approved trail, but Executive Director Matt Darling hopes to push the organization beyond ADA accessibility to better engage those with mental and physical disabilities.
“We want to open our doors so that anyone who wants can get under the canopy and experience nature,” Darling said.
Darling, who took over as Executive Director four months ago, said the nature center will be getting reparative work in the near future. He also wants to implement interpretive signage printed with multiple translations or QR codes on trails, in order to help educate visitors on the plants and animals within the forest.
This non-profit organization was founded in 1913, making it one of Nebraska’s oldest conservation organizations. The nature center works heavily on raptor conservation and houses the Raptor Woodland Refuge, a 30-foot high canopy exhibit modeled after the bird’s natural environment.
“I really appreciated how well-kept and how many options it had with the trails as far as distance and terrain,” Emma Cox, a Creighton student who visited the nature center, said. “They make it as accessible as possible with wooden boardwalks and dirt trails.”