As a family we go to Hitchcock a few times a year for the hiking and the archery range they have on-site. Both are excellent and a nice escape from the city! This spring/summer I am planning to take our boys for a nice hike in camp!
Great hiking in Loess Hills, great Nature Center especially with programming of "Hawk Watch"
if you want to get some hiking in that’s not just all flat walking this is a great place in this area. The views show you the vast farmland here and are great for sunrise and sunset! Leashed dog friendly. There are some camping spots you can hike to and some cabins as well. I have mostly used this as a day spot.
If you are in the Omaha metro you should head across the river and checkout Hitchcock Nature Center just North of Council Bluffs. This is one of my favorite places to camp. All of the campsites are considered "back country" but don't worry, I think the furthest campsite is about three miles.
My preference is getting one of the campsites on the western edge of the park on top of the ridge. At night you can see the Omaha skyline lit up and the breeze running through there is wonderful.
Hitchcock is smack dab in the loess hills which is one of only two places in the world with the hill formations. The other place is in China.
The trail system isn't huge because of the size of the park, but it has a lot of up and down and is a great place to practice backpacking or test new gear before you leave the plains and head to the rocky mountains for a new adventure.
When your done with your hiking, climb up to the top of the towering platform and bring your binoculars to checkout the visiting hawks and occasional eagle. Don't pass up Hitchcock Nature Center.
When I think of “nature center” I think of a stuffy little cabin with taxidermy. This site is far far more than that, with hiking trails, educational programs, a museum, event halls, and of course camping. Local friends told us about it, otherwise we would have never found it. Make sure to look at their events calendar, they have exceptional programs for all ages (and especially kids). I learned about this park from Pheasants Forever, a nonprofit.
Yay: well tended and updated campground. You can camp all year (but I think they turn the water off?)
Nay: no reservations (but supposedly they don’t fill up completely?)
Surprise: make sure you talk to the rangers!
The trails are well marked and easy to follow. I was very impressed on the hike in campsites. They already have a nice flat spot for your tent, although I'm a hammock camper. The views from the two south east campsites are amazing, looking over the Missouri River valley and the Omaha skyline in the distance.
The park has cabins, rv sites, tent camping and backcountry hike in camping. The nature center is a nice place to cool down the the summer and learn about the loess hills. The backcountry campsite have pads with pea gravel for tents and fire rings. Nice and quiet.