Fontenelle Forest Trail In Nebraska

Here is everything you need to know about the Fontenelle Forest Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Nebraska
  • Length: 17 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Fontenelle Forest Trail is managed and maintained by Fontenelle Forest.
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Fontenelle Forest Trail holds a significant place in the history of Nebraska. Located in Bellevue, just south of Omaha, this trail has a rich historical background that dates back centuries. The area was originally inhabited by the Omaha and Otoe-Missouria Native American tribes, who recognized the forest’s natural beauty and abundant resources. They utilized the forest for hunting, gathering, and spiritual practices.

In the early 1800s, the Fontenelle Forest Trail gained prominence as a vital transportation route for fur traders and explorers. It was named after Logan Fontenelle, a prominent Omaha chief who played a crucial role in establishing peaceful relations between Native American tribes and European settlers. The trail served as a link between the Missouri River and the Platte River, enabling traders to transport furs, goods, and supplies across the region.

During the mid-19th century, the Fontenelle Forest Trail witnessed the westward expansion and settlement of European immigrants. The forest provided valuable resources for the growing communities, including timber for construction, fuel, and other necessities. However, as the population increased, the forest faced the threat of deforestation and degradation.

Recognizing the importance of preserving this natural treasure, the Fontenelle Forest Association was established in 1913. It aimed to protect and conserve the forest, ensuring its ecological integrity and historical significance. Over the years, the association has worked tirelessly to acquire additional land, expand the trail system, and educate the public about the forest’s importance.

Today, the Fontenelle Forest Trail stands as a testament to the rich history and natural heritage of Nebraska. It offers visitors a chance to explore the diverse ecosystems, observe wildlife, and learn about the cultural significance of the area. The trail serves as a reminder of the past and a commitment to preserving the forest for future generations.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Fontenelle Forest Nature Center: This is the main access point for the Fontenelle Forest Trail. It is located at 1111 Bellevue Boulevard North, Bellevue, Nebraska.

2. Riverview Boardwalk: This access point is located near the Nature Center and provides a scenic boardwalk trail along the Missouri River.

3. Camp Brewster: This access point is located within the Fontenelle Forest and provides access to various trails, including the Fontenelle Forest Trail.

4. Neale Woods: Neale Woods is another access point for the Fontenelle Forest Trail. It is located at 14323 Edith Marie Avenue, Omaha, Nebraska.

5. Hitchcock Nature Center: This access point is located near the Fontenelle Forest and provides access to the trail system, including the Fontenelle Forest Trail. It is located at 27792 Ski Hill Loop, Honey Creek, Iowa.

6. Bellevue Loop Trail: This access point is located near the Fontenelle Forest and provides a connection to the Fontenelle Forest Trail. It is located at 1001 High School Drive, Bellevue, Nebraska.

7. Haworth Park: Haworth Park is another access point for the Fontenelle Forest Trail. It is located at 2502 Payne Drive, Bellevue, Nebraska.

8. Bellevue State Recreation Area: This access point is located near the Fontenelle Forest and provides access to the trail system, including the Fontenelle Forest Trail. It is located at 4882 Bellevue Road, Bellevue, Nebraska.

9. Fontenelle Forest South Unit: This access point is located within the Fontenelle Forest and provides access to various trails, including the Fontenelle Forest Trail.

10. Fontenelle Forest North Unit: This access point is located within the Fontenelle Forest and provides access to various trails, including the Fontenelle Forest Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Metro Transit – Public bus service in the Omaha area.
2. Lyft – Ride-hailing service providing convenient transportation.
3. Uber – On-demand car service for quick and reliable rides.
4. Yellow Cab – Traditional taxi service available for transportation needs.
5. Lime – Electric scooter and bike rentals for short-distance travel.
6. Bird – Electric scooter rentals for convenient and eco-friendly transportation.
7. Ofo – Bike-sharing service offering affordable transportation options.
8. Zipcar – Car-sharing service providing access to vehicles on an hourly or daily basis.
9. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental service for longer trips or specific transportation needs.
10. Omaha Bike Share – Bike-sharing program with multiple stations for easy access to bicycles.


The amenities available at the Fontenelle Forest Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at the visitor center and various locations throughout the trail.

2. Parking: There is ample parking available at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center for visitors.

3. Camping sites: Fontenelle Forest does not offer camping facilities. However, there are nearby campgrounds in the area, such as Two Rivers State Recreation Area and Mahoney State Park.

4. Picnic areas: There are designated picnic areas with tables and benches where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack amidst the natural surroundings.

5. Visitor Center: The Fontenelle Forest Nature Center serves as a hub for visitors and offers amenities such as information desks, gift shops, and educational exhibits.

6. Trails: The main amenity of Fontenelle Forest is its extensive trail system, which offers various routes for hiking, walking, and exploring the natural beauty of the forest.

7. Nature Playscape: Fontenelle Forest has a nature playscape area where children can engage in interactive and educational outdoor activities.

8. Bird Blind: There is a bird blind located along the trail, providing visitors with an opportunity to observe and appreciate the diverse bird species found in the forest.

9. Education Programs: Fontenelle Forest offers educational programs and guided tours for visitors of all ages, providing a deeper understanding of the forest ecosystem.

10. Wildlife Viewing: The forest is home to a wide range of wildlife, and visitors may have the chance to spot animals such as deer, foxes, squirrels, and various bird species while exploring the trails.

Please note that amenities may be subject to change or have specific operating hours, so it is advisable to check the Fontenelle Forest website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Hotel Deco – Upscale hotel offering modern rooms and amenities in downtown Omaha.
2. Comfort Inn & Suites – Affordable hotel with comfortable rooms and complimentary breakfast near the trail.
3. Hampton Inn Omaha Midtown-Aksarben Area – Convenient hotel with clean rooms and a complimentary breakfast buffet.
4. Subway – Fast-food chain serving sandwiches and salads near the trail.
5. McDonald’s – Popular fast-food restaurant offering burgers, fries, and more near the trail.
6. Taco Bell – Mexican-inspired fast-food chain serving tacos, burritos, and more near the trail.
7. Fontenelle Forest Nature Center – On-site emergency services and first aid available at the trail’s nature center.

Fontenelle Forest Trail Difficulty Notes

The Fontenelle Forest Trail offers a moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail encompasses a diverse terrain, including gentle slopes, rocky sections, and occasional tree roots. While some parts may require a bit of effort to navigate, the trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, ensuring a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. With its beautiful scenery and opportunities to spot wildlife, the Fontenelle Forest Trail provides a satisfying challenge without being overly strenuous.

Features And Attractions

The Fontenelle Forest Trail offers a variety of scenic views, historical sites, natural landmarks, and more. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Fontenelle Forest Nature Center: The trail starts at the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, where you can learn about the local flora and fauna before embarking on your hike.

2. Missouri River Overlook: This scenic overlook provides stunning views of the Missouri River and the surrounding landscape.

3. Bellevue Loop: This section of the trail takes you through the historic town of Bellevue, where you can explore charming shops, restaurants, and historical sites.

4. Heron Haven: A natural wetland sanctuary, Heron Haven is home to a variety of bird species, including herons, egrets, and ducks. It offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere for birdwatching.

5. Fontenelle Creek: The trail follows the meandering Fontenelle Creek, offering beautiful views of the water and surrounding forest.

6. Ancient Bur Oak: Along the trail, you’ll come across an ancient bur oak tree, estimated to be over 300 years old. It’s a majestic sight and a reminder of the area’s rich natural history.

7. Native American Petroglyphs: In certain areas, you can find Native American petroglyphs carved into the rocks. These ancient symbols provide a glimpse into the region’s indigenous history.

8. Wildlife Sightings: The Fontenelle Forest Trail is known for its diverse wildlife population. Keep an eye out for deer, foxes, squirrels, and a variety of bird species as you hike.

9. Forest Canopy Walkway: Towards the end of the trail, you’ll encounter a unique forest canopy walkway. This elevated boardwalk allows you to experience the forest from a different perspective, offering panoramic views of the treetops.

10. Missouri River Crossing: The trail ends at the Missouri River, where you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the river and its surroundings. This is a great spot for picnicking or simply taking in the natural beauty.

These are just a few of the highlights along the Fontenelle Forest Trail. As you explore, you’ll likely discover many more hidden gems and points of interest.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs are allowed on the Fontenelle Forest Trail but must be kept on a leash at all times.
– Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
– Hunting, fishing, and trapping are strictly prohibited.
– Camping and open fires are not allowed on the trail.
– Littering is strictly prohibited. Visitors are expected to carry out any trash they bring in.
– Smoking is not allowed on the trail.
– Visitors are expected to stay on designated trails and not venture off into restricted areas.
– Collection or removal of plants, animals, rocks, or artifacts is strictly prohibited.
– Visitors are expected to respect wildlife and not disturb or feed them.
– The trail may have seasonal restrictions or closures due to weather conditions or maintenance work. It is advisable to check for any updates or closures before visiting.

Seasonal Information

Fontenelle Forest Trail, located in Bellevue, Nebraska, is a beautiful and serene natural area that offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the wonders of nature. While the trail is open year-round, there are certain times of the year that are particularly ideal for a visit.

One of the best times to explore the Fontenelle Forest Trail is during the spring season, from April to June. During this time, the forest comes alive with vibrant colors as wildflowers bloom and trees regain their lush green foliage. The weather is usually mild, making it perfect for hiking and birdwatching. Spring is also the breeding season for many bird species, so visitors can expect to see and hear a variety of birdsong throughout the trail.

Another great time to visit the Fontenelle Forest Trail is in the fall, from September to November. As the leaves change color, the forest transforms into a breathtaking display of reds, oranges, and yellows. The crisp autumn air adds to the charm of the trail, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers. Fall is also a great time to spot migratory birds as they make their way south for the winter.

It’s important to note that Fontenelle Forest Trail has seasonal closures and restrictions. During the winter months, from December to February, some sections of the trail may be closed due to snow and ice. It’s advisable to check the trail’s website or contact the visitor center for the most up-to-date information on closures and trail conditions. Additionally, some areas of the trail may be temporarily closed for maintenance or restoration work, so it’s always a good idea to plan your visit in advance.

Overall, Fontenelle Forest Trail offers a unique and immersive experience throughout the year. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring or the stunning foliage of fall, there is always something to appreciate and enjoy on this beautiful trail.


1. Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces close to the trail entrance for individuals with disabilities.
2. Accessible Entrance: A ramp or level pathway leading to the trail entrance, allowing wheelchair users to easily access the trail.
3. Paved Pathways: Smooth and even pathways throughout the trail, suitable for wheelchair users and individuals with mobility aids.
4. Handrails: Sturdy handrails along certain sections of the trail to provide support and stability for individuals with mobility challenges.
5. Rest Areas: Benches or seating areas along the trail for individuals to rest and take a break if needed.
6. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms located near the trail entrance or within the trail area.
7. Braille Signage: Trail signs with Braille text to assist visually impaired individuals in navigating the trail.
8. Audio Guides: Audio guides or recordings available for individuals with visual impairments to learn about the trail’s features and points of interest.
9. Service Animal Accommodation: The trail allows service animals to accompany individuals with disabilities.
10. Accessible Programs: Fontenelle Forest offers inclusive programs and activities that cater to individuals with disabilities, ensuring equal participation opportunities.

Safety Information

1. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked paths to avoid getting lost or disturbing the natural habitat.
2. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy shoes with good traction to navigate the sometimes uneven terrain.
3. Carry water: Stay hydrated during your hike by bringing an adequate supply of water.
4. Use insect repellent: Protect yourself from ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects by applying repellent before entering the trail.
5. Check for ticks after your hike: Inspect your body and clothing for ticks, as Fontenelle Forest is known to have tick populations.
6. Be aware of wildlife: Respect the animals and maintain a safe distance, avoiding any interaction or feeding.
7. Be cautious of poison ivy: Learn to identify and avoid contact with poison ivy, which can cause skin irritation.
8. Be prepared for weather changes: Dress in layers and bring rain gear or sun protection depending on the forecast.
9. Hike with a buddy: It’s always safer to hike with a companion, especially in remote areas.
10. Inform someone of your plans: Let a friend or family member know your hiking plans and estimated return time for safety purposes.

Conservation Notes

The Fontenelle Forest Trail, located in Bellevue, Nebraska, is a significant natural area that holds great conservation value. The trail is situated within the Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, which is dedicated to preserving and protecting the unique ecosystems found within the forest. As a result, the conservation status of the Fontenelle Forest Trail is considered to be of utmost importance.

The Fontenelle Forest Trail is part of a larger conservation effort aimed at safeguarding the biodiversity and ecological integrity of the area. The forest is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including several rare and endangered ones. Efforts are made to maintain and restore the natural habitats found along the trail, ensuring the survival of these species and promoting overall ecosystem health.

Conservation initiatives for the Fontenelle Forest Trail include habitat restoration, invasive species management, and wildlife monitoring. These efforts are crucial in maintaining the delicate balance of the forest ecosystem and protecting it from human-induced threats. The trail is carefully managed to minimize human impact, with designated areas for hiking and nature observation. By implementing sustainable practices and educating visitors about the importance of conservation, the Fontenelle Forest Trail strives to be a model for environmental stewardship.

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