Outdoor activities have flourished in Platte County. The natural beauty of the area is a picture waiting to be framed, but the man-made outdoor adventures cannot be rivaled. Just a few minutes away from Columbus, as a by-product of its hydroelectric generating facilities, the Loup Power District owns and maintains recreational areas that are open to the public free of charge. Five parks, two lakes and nearly 35 miles of canal are readily accessible and offer camping, boating, fishing and picnicking. Also, free tours of the District’s Columbus Powerhouse are available by appointment. And, don’t forget to take in the wonder of the meandering trails that wind through Columbus’ park system.
Wildlife Management Areas (Hunting & Fishing)
The Platte County area boasts several areas open to the public for fishing and hunting. The area is a particularly good habitat for pheasants, quail, and dove. The areas listed also support an abundance of native plants and flowers with excellent opportunities for bird watching, hiking, and enjoying nature. For more information about any of these areas, contact Bruce Trindle, Wildlife Manager, at (402)370-3374.
- Flatwater Landing WMA
5.5 acres located 1 mile south of Columbus on Highway 81, east and north of the Platte River Bridge.
- Looking Glass Creek WMA
67 Acres located 1 mile south of Monroe
- Wilkinson WMA
939 acres, 300 acres restored wetlands located 5 miles west and 1 mile north of Columbus
Still looking for a place to sink your hook?
Avid anglers never tire of casting their lines into the area’s lakes and rivers where crappie, bullhead, blue gill, perch, northern pike, catfish and bass can be caught. Want to find the local anglers favorite spot? Take a look at some of the best fishing areas around.
- Columbus Powerhouse Park
A four-acre park located adjacent to the Columbus Powerhouse featuring fishing and picnicking area.
- Kapels Last Resort
Avid fishermen as well as the amateur angler will enjoy these peaceful, rustic surroundings located north of Columbus. Fee fishing, with no license required in a lake stocked with trout, walleye, perch, catfish, bluegill, crappie, etc. A lodge is available to rent for groups.
- Lake Babcock
Bullhead, carp, channel and flathead catfish have been taken from Lake Babcock.
- Loup Canal
Carp, channel and flathead catfish and drum. Record-breaking catfish have been taken from the Loup Canal. The silting basin west of Genoa and the Columbus Powerhouse are popular spots.
- Loup Park
Located on the north and west shores of Lake Babcock just north of Columbus where fishing is excellent.
- Lake North
Located four miles north of Columbus, Lake North offers two miles of beaches and two boat-launching ramps. Carp, channel catfish, drum, crappie and walleye have been taken from Lake North.
- Tailrace Park
This 9-acre park is located where the Loup Canal joins the Platte River, three miles east of Columbus and one mile south. It is noted for its exceptional fishing in season.
- Maple Creek Recreation Area
A brand new recreation area located along Highway 91 in Leigh that opened in May of 2011! This 160-acre lake has 2 boat ramps and is stocked with large-mouth bass, blue gill & channel catfish.
Take a few swings at one of the 5 golf courses that take advantage of the areas natural ‘hazards’. So come play on the gently rolling hills, bent grass greens, and rye fairways of the open prairie. Find information on each course, here.
Columbus and its surrounding communities host over 14 welcoming parks where you can partake in a game of chess, spread out a picnic, or watch one of the games going on at the lighted tennis, lighted baseball, and softball complexes. You can even fish on two small lakes, slide into the state-of-the-art water park, or attend a football or track-and-field competition at the 2,500-seat stadium. To find out more about the amenities of these parks, click here.
Hiking, Biking & Walking Trails
Recreational trails for cycling, walking and jogging are located throughout Columbus.Snaking through tree-lined parks, the main scenic trail meanders along two lakes offering recreational opportunities for riders, runners, rollerbladers, walkers, and wheelchairs. By crossing the footbridge at the end of the paved trail, you enter the Bob Lake Trail for a ride along a gravel trail for five more miles. Walking and biking also happen along a 2-mile trail through Pawnee Park and 1.5 mile trail around the Wilderness Park soccer complex. For more information on each trail, click here.
Ready Set. . .Go! Racing enthusiasts enjoy a six-week season for live parimutuel thoroughbred hose racing and year-long simulcasting at the Platte County Agricultural Park. The facilities include a 4,000 seat grandstand, a clubroom with a capacity of 600, a large exhibit hall and an indoor arena where a variety of community, sports and recreation events are held. Or enjoy the thrills of the deafening roar and crashes of stock cars throughout the spring and summer. Find out more about the many races happening in Platte County, here.
Pawnee Plunge Water Park – 560 33rd Avenue (Hwy 30 and 81 South)
Splash ‘n Play the Pawnee Plunge Way! Come experience water fun that is sure to delight the young and the young at heart at the Pawnee Plunge Water Park. Located in one of the largest city parks in Nebraska, the park includes four water slides for the adventurous, a lazy river, and zero-depth entry pool with many interactive water features loved by children. If you leave here and didn’t get wet, you didn’t experience all we have to offer at Pawnee Plunge. Where there is something fun for everyone.