“We goin’ on abventure?”
Even my two-year-old knows the signs of a good day around our household. Adventure. Morning starts with mom filling water bottles, packing snacks, snacks, and more snacks, diapers, bug spray, and sunscreen. Three boys piling into the car.
We’re still newish to the Omaha area, so getting out and exploring new areas, especially nature areas where my boys can be boys, is key survival mode for this mama. Raise of hands, anyone else’s kids destroy the house if they’re stuck inside? These boys of mine have so.much.energy.
“If Happiness is the goal—and it should be, then adventures should be a priority.”
This was a wonderful, quiet, free, shady trail. When you pull into the parking lot there is a small playground, baseball diamond, large grassy area, and a port-o-potty. The entrance to the trails is almost right where you turn into the parking lot – we almost didn’t see it. Swanson Park trails are made for mountain biking, but was definitely fine for walking or doing a trail run. If you see me running, you better start running too. The trails were narrow, so not good for a stroller, but the terrain wasn’t too hilly, so it was easy for the kids. There was a lot of shade and some trail markings, so perfect for a calm adventure.
We were able to stay on a fairly obvious main trail, but the maps going into the hike were hard for me to decipher (length, elevation, and there weren’t lots of markings on the trail). We hiked for about 45 minutes before turning around and heading back. Great, easy trail for kids, just watch for bikers. We only saw two kids riding when we went, but I imagine the weekends are much more crowded than the middle of the week. You’ve been warned.
This was such a unique spot for a morning adventure.
I was surprised to see a handful of people taking their morning walks with friends through the Arboretum. I suspect it’s a tucked away secret that mostly neighbors visit.
The Arboretum is an outdoor education area, so you can see different types of trees that are recommended for use in the Omaha area, understand safety when it comes to planting various trees near different power lines, and how those trees can conserve energy. For little boys, exploring trees among power plants was pretty cool.
There was a mixture of paved trails and wood chip trails. If you were a mom with a stroller with good tires, the wood chip area was definitely wide enough for a stroller, and there were some narrow paths for kids to run on alongside the wider trail. Do you have little ones who are constantly asking questions? Many trees were marked with their names, which was fun for the kids and bonus, I didn’t have to pretend to know what kind of trees they were.
This would be a great place for an easy (free) walk or a picnic with friends. Although I’d note that the “restroom” was another port-o-potty, but the entire loop wasn’t much more than a mile.
Heron Haven was a major hit with my adventure-seeking boys.
The trails are open daily, but you need to make an appointment if you want to go inside the office/education center. They had a donation box with envelopes if you wanted to make a contribution. Also, note there isn’t a restroom available when the nature center is closed. We *may* have had some interesting conversations about peeing in the forest and anatomy differences. <shrug>
At first we weren’t seeing any of the animals that the Haven boasts about, which is what drew me to this area of the city. The trails are very easily marked, most parts would be okay for a stroller with sturdy wheels. There was a nice boardwalk over the wetland. We saw a few Canadian geese, turtles, and fish swimming. There was a small butterfly garden with beautiful flowers, and as we hiked along the trail we found a few blinds which my kids got a charge out of.
Towards the back of the Haven is a photography blind. We were so lucky to see a heron, wood duck, so many bullfrogs and toads, and we got to see a MINK! That was so cool! I was definitely impressed, but could also easily see that this could be a location where you’d see a lot of wildlife, if you might not see anything too interesting. I think it was another easy and perfect trail for kids.