Stone Creek Falls

Platte River State Park, Nebraska

Trip Date: Wednesday, June 6th, 2018
Last Updated: Monday, May 20th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.75 miles roundtrip
Time 30 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

At a little over a half hour from downtown Omaha, Platte River State Park is a great escape from civilization. You'll enjoy this nice stroll through nature to see a quaint but cute waterfall nestled within a shady forest. Although this hike is short, the park has more activities to entertain you beyond the hike, with an observation tower with views of both Omaha and Lincoln (pictured below), the Outdoor Heritage Education Complex for practicing archery and firearm shooting, a spray park for cooling down on a hot summer day, and an amphitheater hosting free movies on summer Saturday nights.

The view of the Platte River from the observation tower

The view of the Platte River from the observation tower

The view from the observation tower looking south-ish

The view from the observation tower looking south-ish

As you start from the parking lot, you'll notice the trail is wide and well-graded on the way to the falls, making it easy to navigate through the intersections ahead as you follow the nicest trail. Most of the route follows Stone Creek, and you'll enjoy nice views of the creek from above during the first part of the hike. Again, if you lose your way, just follow the creek and you'll eventually reach the falls. Later in the hike, the trail will drop down to creek level, and it will look like the picture below.
The trail follows Stone Creek as it trickles towards the Platte River

The trail follows Stone Creek as it trickles towards the Platte River

Soon you will reach Stone Creek Falls as pictured below, and if you hike this early enough you'll be able to take a picture by the falls without other people crowding the shot or making you wait your turn. Though it's no Niagara Falls, having a destination in mind makes the hike seem more fun.
The main event: Stone Creek Falls

The main event: Stone Creek Falls

After you reach the falls, you can choose to turn around or you can continue your adventure and complete the loop I've mapped above. A bit of a warning though: these trails are very confusing because intersections aren't labeled nor are any trails named or given any specific destination. It's easy to get lost here -- frustratingly so in fact -- and I eventually ended up at a campsite way off course before finding the route I had drawn on my park map. It's like the wild west here, and it's up to you to choose your own adventure and eventually find your way back to your car.

One annoying part of this park is that although it's named for the seemingly adjacent Platte River, all of the waterfront property is actually owned by a railroad and is therefore off-limits. For all you scofflaws out there, I will mention that there are very easy and obvious ways (as in visible from official trails) to cross the barbed wire fence delimiting the park border, allowing you to enjoy a view of the Platte River like pictured below. While this is definitely trespassing, you won't be the first one to have done so. Be careful though, the railroad is active and heard a train passing while I was hiking above in the nearby hills.
The (forbidden) view of the wide expanse of the Platte River

The (forbidden) view of the wide expanse of the Platte River

Hopefully you don't get too lost trying to navigate the trails beyond the falls and actually enjoy the time you spend here. Let me know how it goes in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

Dogs are allowed on leash. This flat, short hike is great for the whole family, and your kids will enjoy splashing around in the creek near the falls on hot summer days. You can hike this trail year round, and fall is especially beautiful here. This is one of the most popular destinations in the park, so expect to share the trail with others unless you wake up extra early.

Directions

From Omaha, take Interstate 80 west towards Lincoln, then take the exit for Nebraska Highway 50 and head south. Follow Nebraska Highway 50 across the Platte River to Louisville, then turn right on Nebraska Highway 66 about a mile after the town. Look for the signs for Platte River State Park and turn right. If you need to purchase a park permit, turn right at the T intersection and then turn left into the park headquarters lot; simply turn left at the T intersection if you already have a permit. After purchasing your permit, turn right on the main road and continue straight past the park entrance road and look for the parking lot on the right at the bottom of the hill.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

A Nebraska Park Permit is required, and you can purchase one at the park headquarters when you arrive. You can also buy your park permit online and print it at home by visiting the Nebraska Game and Parks website -- especially handy if you want to hike before or after the headquarters is open. Permits are $6/day or $31/year for Nebraska licensed vehicles or $8/day or $46/year for out of state vehicles. There are bathrooms located near this paved lot.

External Links

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