The Johnson Lake Trail project was first talked about in the early 2000’s and the dream took shape in the years that followed. The first segment was built in 2005 and additional trail added as funding and easements were acquired. Today the trail has over 8 miles of off-road concrete pathway. The 10.3 mile circle around the lake includes segments of shared roadway on the dam and near the inlet to the lake.
The trail is designed to allow users to experience some of the various environs around the lake. There are segments that pass through shady tree stands, follow the edge of farm fields, follow canals, or pass-through nature areas. The ultimate goal is to complete the trail forming a safe and assessable circle for non-motorized recreation and transportation.
The Johnson Lake Trail is much more than just a concrete pathway. Spaced along the trail are gazebos, pergolas, and rest areas for users to enjoy. There are three Little Free Libraries and two bike repair stations along the trail. Trees, shrubs, a pollinator habitat area, and flowers have been added to provide shade and color to the trail corridor. In 2020 the trail was recognized for the diversity of trees and shrubs as an affiliate to the Nebraska State Arboretum. Trailhead signs and parking areas provide access and directions for visitors to the lake. The trail connects many of the amenities around the lake. In the spring of 2022 there will be community playgrounds added along the trail.
The trail is open to walkers, runners, and cyclists of all ages. Pets on leases are welcome and bags are provided for cleaning up after your pet. Motorized wheelchairs and electric assist bikes are welcome. All other forms of motorized vehicles are not allowed. The trail provides an opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy the beauty of Johnson Lake.
Play Hard & Be Safe
Water Fun...Johnson Lake
BOATING SAFETY CHECK-LIST
1. Check weather, wind direction and strength, have suitable clothing.
2. Tell someone when you plan to return.
3. Equipment; Enough life jackets for each person in your boat, fire extinguisher, throw cushion, anchor, bail bucket, line (rope), lights, oar, cell phone, sun glasses, sun screen, towels and cooler.
4. Check fuel, tire pressure, wheel bearings, boat key on floatable key chain, and money.
5. Always check the boat plug.
6. Know the water depth, any hazards; protect the bottom of your boat and your prop.
7. Know the people in your boat. Do they swim?
8. Check for registration, insurance, properly licensed, boat numbers, emergency numbers in the boat, first aid kit, sun block, and oar.
9. Understand boating laws (distances from shore, distance from other boaters, right of way, no wake zone, etc.)
10. Avoid alcohol consumption and do not operate any water craft if you have been drinking.
You are now an Ambassador of Fun on Johnson Lake. How much fun you have depends on how well you plan your visit!
Hook, Line & Sinker
Species of game fish in the lake include white bass, walleye, crappie, wipers, channel catfish, flathead catfish, striped bass, largemouth bass, northern pike and perch.
The lake is best known for the white bass and walleye fishing, yielding hundreds of "Master Angler" fish over the years. The best time of the year to catch white bass is during spawning from late April to mid May. After spawning is over, white bass are most frequently found along the shoreline and near the outlet canal on the northeast side of the lake. From midsummer to late September, the white bass move into deeper water in pursuit of shad and other small fish.
Walleye fishing is at its best in the spring when they spawn near the rocks on the dam's face. In late May and June walleye can be found on the flats and areas where the lake's bottom drops off into deeper water.
Nebraska Games & Parks Permits Are Required. Permits may be purchased on-line.
Two campgrounds, with both primitive and modern camping facilities, provide access to day-use and overnight visitors.
At the Main Area on the southeast end of the lake, the Commission operates a campground with gravel pads, complete with electrical hookups.
There are also showers, restrooms, a dump station and an up-to-date fish cleaning station. The swimming beach is nearby.
Across the lake, the South Side Inlet Area offers more gravel camping pads with electrical hookups and modern restrooms. The fishing pier here is readily accessible to the handicapped. This area also has a boat ramp and fish-cleaning station. The North Side Inlet Area is available for primitive camping and has another handicapped accessible fishing pier, drinking water and vault toilets.
Park Entry Permits Are Required.
To make campsite reservations, visit the Nebraska Games and Parks Website or call 402-471-1414
Go Wild In The Wild
Eagle Viewing...Johnson Lake
Each year, bald eagles travel to areas along the Platte River from as far away as Canada, Alaska and the Great Lakes states to find a wintering area with an abundant food supply.
They have become winter residents of wooded areas adjacent to the Platte and reservoirs, the supply canal and area below Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District hydro plants.
Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District, in cooperation with area Chamber of Commerce, makes the J-2 plant available for eagle viewing during the winter months. Schedules and details can be accessed through the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District website.
Enjoy this Johnson Lake Eagles video (with sound on). Video was produced February 27, 2021 and shared with permission of the photographer.
Johnson Lake has been referred to as Nebraska's best-kept secret partly due to the pure enjoyment of lakeside living, but also due to the number of attractions, activities and outright outdoor fun!
The Lake offers a wide variety of on-the-water fun including boating, sailing, water skiing, Jet Skiing® and wakeboarding. Johnson Lake is known across the region for excellent fishing (boasting some of the best walleye fishing the country), hunting and wildlife viewing.
The fun isn't all about being near or on the water. The area offers a local 18-hole golf course including 11 courses within a 50 mile radius. The hike and bike project provides residents and visitors with 7.6 miles of off-road trails at the lake.
Other attractions include two public beaches, two state campgrounds, shopping, and annual events such as the Memorial Day Community Garage Sale, local county fairs, Elwood Carnival, Fourth of July Fireworks Show, fishing tournaments, sailing regattas, Antique Shows (Lexington).
Come see for yourself. We guarantee you'll have a great time!
See Service Listing for businesses and phone numbers.
For more details on these and other events at Johnson Lake and the surrounding community, please contact the Johnson Lake Chamber.