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When complete, the trail will continue west another miles to Chadron. Ina short portion of this western extension —just over 14 miles, stretches of which have been improved with crushed limestone— opened between Gordon and Rushville. The entire pathway also includes more than bridges. The rail-trail follows the route of the old Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. The original corridor fell into disuse inafter which Rails-to-Trails Conservancy bought the corridor and donated it to the state of Nebraska for trail development. The rail-trail is mostly surfaced in finely crushed gravel, though some short sections are paved in the towns along the route.
Mountain or hybrid bikes will provide the best experience on the trail. An adjacent natural-surface path is also available for equestrian use. Communities along the trail are generally spaced about miles apart.
Although dedicated trail restrooms and drinking fountains are not available on the trail, these amenities are typically available from town parks and trailside businesses. In addition to water, it's also recommended that travelers bring spare tire tubes as Texas sandbur seeds puncturevine can occasionally be found on some sections of the trail.
Beginning on the trail's east end in Norfolk, you'll follow the Elkhorn River, which is lined with tall trees. The surrounding valley is picturesque, dotted with farmste and cultivated fields. There is a detour in this section, just east of Clearwater, where a bridge was washed out in ; the detour takes you from th to th streets via the shoulder of US Highway These grass-covered dunes, the largest in the western hemisphere, carry you along the trail en route to Valentine.
Here, the Cowboy Trail crosses the Niobrara River Valley—where five major ecological systems converge—via a dramatic 0. The Niobrara is a National Scenic River and offers exceptional opportunities for exploring the area by canoe, tube, kayak, or raft. This trail is a gateway to the Great American Rail-Trail, a nearly 4, mile developing trail that will connect the country from Washington, D.
Gateway trails represent those iconic trails that make possible the Great American Rail-Trail in each of the states it connects. Learn more at www. There are numerous access points and places to park along the Cowboy Trail. For more detailed information about trail access and parking, click on the link under Related Content. Flat with beautiful views. Visited in early Junerode Trail was very flat and worked well with our hybrid bikes.
It was a little bit sandy and thick for the first miles outside of Valentine but was fine after that. The bridge view was spectacular at Valentine. Beautiful scenic landscape, friendly people in the town of Valentine, and saw lots of wildlife. Would totally recommend. Trail from Norfolk to the west was well maintained. I stayed in Neligh to ride both east and west.
The bridge 6 miles west of Neligh looks to be permanently gone.
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Much of the trail parallels the main ro, but a small portion doesn't. The experience away from the main ro was great. I love the empty beauty of the Sandhills and you feel you're out in the middle of nowhere riding east from Valentine, on a stretch where the trail veers away from the road. I rode my hybrid 16 miles out and then back to the big cell tower where the trail res the road.
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There's been some ATV travel on the trail, but generally the surface was good. I met a cyclist or two close to Valentine, but that was it. On warm days, take plenty of water - there's little shade to be had. I rode 25 miles out and 25 miles back from Valentine, to Wood Lake. The Niobrara trestle is spectacular and only a couple of miles outside Valentine.
The grass was green and the sunflowers in bloom. The people at the motel where I stayed let me park my car.
I went in late August after viewing the eclipse over in Wyoming. The weather was hot and humid and very windy headwind going out.
Coming back the wind was lighter, but still a headwind! I camped at Wood Lake pop 60 in the town park no fee, no one will bother you, rest rooms, picnic tables, shade trees, grass to pitch a tent, electric hookups, excellent drinking water, small playground for. The only person I met was the Post Mistress who was helpful and friendly. The cafe is closed, contrary to the trail guide.
I was told there is a lady who serves coffee, out by the highway, but the town felt like a ghost town, except for a couple of friendly dogs who came over. I met no one else. Trail conditions were sandy in places and sometimes weedy with washboards where the farmers had used the trail as a road, despite "no motor vehicles" s. Usually I could avoid the washboards by riding in the center or edge of trail. This is NOT a manicured trail, at least at the western end. I used semi-fat mountain bike tires 26x2. I rode a few miles on the parallel highway which has good shoulders and is smoothly paved with very light traffic.
The places where the trail veers from the highway are the most interesting and scenic; the parts that parallel the highway are a bit boring. I met no other cyclists except within five miles of Valentine. Along the trail I saw two garter snakes, horses, a turtle, a frog, songbirds, ducks, and birds of prey.
The Cowboy Trail lacks the social component that more popular trails have. It presents a solitary and perhaps more peaceful experience because there are so few users. One amenity it lacks that more popular trails have are the rest areas with shelters every so often that also serve as gathering places for trail users to meet and swap stories.
In between towns there is really no place to get out of the weather and rest or eat a snack unless you sit on the ground.
I only explored the western end so perhaps the middle and eastern end have more facilities. The Cowboy is a very long trail and would make a good alternative to highways if you were planning on biking across the whole country. When you write a review its useful to know what kind of bike. While a 29 would make the ride easy.
My son and I drove up from Omaha to Norfolk and on to Long Pine for a biking, hiking, fishing weekend. Only rode the trail from Norfolk west for 5 miles, about halfway to Battle Creek.
That part of the trail was very nice - 2 miles of concrete and 3 miles of pea gravel. Nice bridge over the Elkhorn River. However, further west the trail parallels Hwys. We could see a lot of it from the road as we drove and the further west we drove, the worse it looked. There were sections where it was almost completely overgrown with weeds.
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Would not want to ride there at all. It's too bad, this could be a very nice trail, but central sections are very neglected if maintained at all. Hence, the 3 star rating. This trail has great potential but is just flat out ignored, poorly maintained never open all the way through and very rarely traveled without a flat tire, bring a spare or patches.
After a not very pleasant ride on the west end of this trail last fall, tried the East end in May Much nicer trail. Started in Norfolk and went out 1 mile past Battle Creek before impending rain forced me to turn around and head back.
Cowboy recreation and nature trail
No issues at all in the 11 miles from Norfolk to just past Battle Creek. Except for getting rained on, very nice ride! We did a 40 mile ride in Octoberstarting in Valentine and, except for the first 5 miles, the trail was not in good condition. A 2 or 3 mile stretch of continuous washboard almost made us turn around.
At about mile 18, we hit a stretch that was very overgrown with weeds and our tires become covered in stickers. That did make us turn around.
We did a few miles around town to give us a nice round 40 miles. I ride the trail regularly.
There is a new mile that starts on south 1st Street--south of where it appears the town ends, so keep going until you see the parking lot and a bridge for the trail. The cement continues until west of behind-the-Goodyear plant. Then it is crushed rock. The bridge washed out by that flood has been repaired, elongated, and now has a nice shelter to pull off the trail and have a break. It overlooks the river. Yesterday a blue heron flew with me as I rode over the bridge, and then "disappeared" into the shore.
I have ridden the 11 miles from 1st Street to Battle Creek and back. Have coffee with the locals at the gas station in Battle Creek, and the shopping at Red Bud Hardware is definitely worth the time! It has something for everybody to look at--tools, toys, pretties for the house, and great licorice from Australia. My family bicycled over miles of the Cowboy trail starting in Valentine.