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Trail from Valentine to Chadron
Don from Des Moines IA on 05/28/2020 05:41 PM
Hello. I plan to leave Des Moines mid June self contained and ride the trail from Norfolk to Chadron. From what I've gathered the trail does continue on from Valentine but the surface changes. Can anyone provide details on what I'll encounter after Valentine? I'm riding a gravel bike with 650B x 47 tires which have worked well on Iowa gravel and B grade roads. Also bringing tubes and patches. Thanks in advance!

Karl from West Nyack,NY on 05/28/2020 08:13 PM
Tried that last year this time. There is no trail west of Valentine - most places, the cattle fencing comes right up to the US 20 ROW. Occasionally you will see an old trestle or stream crossing where the RR used to be. But with a few small exceptions, you cannot ride it, plan to ride US 20.

Article for Adventure Cyclist Magazine
Chuck Haney from Whitefish, MT on 05/28/2020 09:21 AM
I'm coming over to ride from Valentine- Inman (looping down from Hwy 12) and writing/ photographing an article for Adventure Cyclist Magazine the first week of June. Are there parts of the trail that are closed on this section? Thanks.

Parking in Valentine
Bill Heistermann from Fort Collins on 05/25/2020 10:46 PM
Thinking about doing the trail out and back over the course of a week starting in Valentine. Is there a place to safely and securely park for a week? Thanks

Lynn M from Leigh on 05/25/2020 07:59 PM
FYI...there is no restaurant in Newport.
There IS a “pool hall” with snacks to purchase, so more of a vending situation.

Bridge by Valentine
Jess from Omaha on 05/14/2020 10:17 AM
Is the bridge by Valentine accessible from the west side? I see the approach on the east is closed.


Alex from Lincoln on 05/14/2020 10:56 AM
Correct. It can be accessed from Valentine. A trail segment between the HWY 20 parking lot and the Niobrara bridge is closed due to some flood damage.

Brenton Lammers from Lincoln, NE on 05/18/2020 10:40 AM
I just did the whole trail with my brother last week. We rode from Valentine to Norfolk. There were no closures near Valentine. It is all back open. Some of the trail was soft due to new gravel being put down and rain. There was closures out east. In several places where the road paralleled the trail it was much easier for us to ride the highway shoulder. Whenever the trail branched off from the highway we would get back on the trail.

Dougt from Onawa, Ia. on 05/18/2020 01:07 PM
Appreciate the trail status report. I do Norfolk/Valentine/Norfolk each year and it's often hard to find a trail condition report. Of course, last year it rained 11" over two consecutive nights and no trail report could have prepared us for that adventure!

Tim Dwyer from Omaha on 05/24/2020 06:49 AM
Thank you Brenton, most informative

Multiday Backpacking suggestions ???
Dave from Omaha on 05/23/2020 08:03 PM
I'm looking to plan a 4ish day / 60ish mile backpacking trip. Very flexible but would prefer to find sections that aren't all highway side. Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated. We should have two cars so I think a one way route is doable.

The Pretender from Colorado Springs on 05/17/2020 02:28 PM
Can you camp along the side of the trail or do you have to use the campgrounds?

Brenton Lammers from Lincoln, NE on 05/18/2020 10:36 AM
You can camp in almost all of the small towns along the trail. You are not allowed to camp along side the trails.

Hammock Camping
Brad from Waverly on 05/10/2020 07:02 PM
My brother-in-law and I will be biking the trail for 2-3 days this summer. We were hoping to hammock camp along the way. Do the camping areas along the route allow hammocks? I know that some campgrounds do not allow them.

Alex from Lincoln on 05/12/2020 11:19 AM
The camping areas along the trail are city parks or city owned campgrounds. I doubt you'd have any issue. If you want to find out for sure, contact the towns you plan on camping at and ask them.

Biking and camping from Valentine
Peg from Denver on 05/06/2020 08:57 AM
Four of us are planning to bike the Cowboy trail from Valentine to Norfolk starting May 16. Anyone know the status of traveling to Nebraska from out of state and also if campgrounds or town parks for camping are open? Any trail conditions we need to know about?
Thank you for any advice.

Alex from Lincoln on 05/07/2020 08:55 AM
Hi Peg,

The trail is open but does have some closures still from the flood sustained last year. You will have to detour around the areas marked as they are impassable for the most part, most use the highway shoulder to get around the detours.

As far as camping, the towns along the trail have city parks available for camping but as to their open status, you will have to call ahead.

Enjoy your trip!

LMorf from Leigh on 05/08/2020 04:44 PM
We have this same question! Three of us were planning on walking the trail this month/June. Are the detours troublesome and really out of the way? (I'm not sure how close the highways are to the trail.)

Is this trail paved
Smc from Joplin Missouri on 04/24/2020 02:18 PM
Is this a paved trail

Cynthya from Lewis, KS on 04/24/2020 03:34 PM
?????? Through some towns it is paved. For the most part it is gravel and some sandy spots. It can be little hard going but it's well worth riding. We wrote it almost 4 years ago on Ranz recumbent. Loved it even even through the rough spots. O would do it again. In answer to your question. No, the trail is not paved. But is a great ride!

Average miles per day
Mason from Neligh on 03/03/2020 08:21 AM
Planning a 2 day bike ride with friend. (50+ women in decent shape). Trying to figure out about how many miles per day is realistic (taking in a few rest and sight seeing in the trail). Anyone with suggestions of best parts to ride.

Ray [webmaster] on 03/03/2020 07:55 PM
This varies a lot from person to person - for some people it might be 20 miles a day, for others it could be 80 miles.

Luckily you are close to the trail, so you can go out there and take some test rides on weekends. Maybe try riding just 5 or 10 miles out and 5-10 back. If you still feel good, do another 5+5 or whatever feels attainable. Try again the next weekend, adding distance, to see what feels right.

Don't just go out and ride 50 miles without a little advance riding, or it will not go well. You might be in great cardiovascular shape with strong legs, but your butt will be screaming if you you haven't gotten some "saddle time" in advance.

So that's not a very straightforward answer, but it's (I think) good advice. Once you get out and do a few long rides, your body will tell you the ultimate answer of what distance works for you.

Good luck and happy trails!

Mason from Neligh on 03/04/2020 08:57 AM
Thanks. My family is from Neligh but I live in SW Iowa and have the Wabash Trace trail realy close. Did a 20 mile ride in about 4 hours-but was sore. Thanks for the tip

Rosie on 03/04/2020 01:11 PM
My friend and I, 50s and 60s, average about 20 miles a day, but we have done more. We are so recreational, and enjoy exploring every little town. We talk and talk and pedal and pedal and take pictures, and talk and talk and pedal and pedal.

Cynthya from Lewis, KS on 03/04/2020 02:15 PM
My husband and I rode almost 3 years ago. We would park in a town and ride 20 miles east one day and west the next day. So we could say we rode from Valentine to Norfolk and back. We had an absolutely wonderful ride and time. Love the trail
Lumps, bumps and all. All good!

Rosie from South Dakota on 03/14/2020 08:30 AM
My friend and I, 50s and 60s, just finished our longest days of 35 and 40 miles. That was big for us, but we still had fun along the way. We think exploring the towns are a big part of the trail. Very tired at the end of those days!

Is Valentine to Norfolk currently open and passable with hybrid bikes?
Jamie Bray from Lincoln, NE on 03/03/2020 04:18 PM
My wife and I have always wanted to ride the Cowboy Trail from one side to the other and were thinking of possibly attempting in late April, 2020. Can anybody please tell us if the current trail has been repaired to travel on since the flooding last year? Also, for those who have traveled the Cowboy Trail, are hybrid bicycles ok to travel with on this trail? We've biked the Katy Trail but from reading through these posts there seems to be quite a difference. Thanks for all your help!

Rosie from South Dakota on 03/14/2020 08:26 AM
A friend and I just finished the section from Norfolk to O Neill on March 12 and 13. The trail was often quite soft and resistant. There are marked detours for washouts and missing bridges. There was one large washout that needed some creative passage. Be aware, have fun, take the highway that parallels the trail when necessary.

Bike Rentals/Full Service Shuttle
North Fork Outfitting LLC from norfolk on 03/08/2020 09:43 AM
Hey folks, just fyi, we have solid tire 7 speed Specialized hybrid rental bikes, other bikepacking related gear for use on the trail, as well as a full service shuttle. Call 402-316-0157 for info or reservations!

Current conditions
Rosie on 03/04/2020 01:08 PM
Does anyone have "eyes on" trail conditions RIGHT now? Most interested in the section from Norfolk to O'Neill. Curious about early spring riding. Thank you

Pepper from Grant NE on 03/04/2020 04:38 PM
I have just talked to Games and Parks and he said from Oakdale to Neligh the bridge is washed out. Also, from Neligh to Clearwater should probably take the highway.

North Fork Outfitting LLC from norfolk on 03/08/2020 09:27 AM
Both are very short detours, the trail is 50 yards from the highway, so fairly easy.

Panda Trans
George from Poncha Springs CO on 02/24/2020 11:36 AM
Has anyone used Panda in Valentine for shuttle. I didn't get an answer when I called.

DandyDon from Fairfield, Ohio on 02/24/2020 06:01 PM
Last summer six of us used North Fork Outfitting and were shuttled from Valentine to Norfolk. It worked out just fine.

George from Poncha Springs CO on 03/04/2020 09:27 PM
Thanks for the info.

North Fork Outfitting LLC from norfolk on 03/08/2020 09:21 AM
Hi George, give me a call at 402-316-0157 to hook up a date.

Cowboy Trail Maps/Information
NG from Omaha on 02/26/2020 01:01 PM
Hi All,

I am an architecture student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. My thesis revolves around the Cowboy Trail. I would like to design campsites and bike shops along the trail along with other programmatic spaces. I was wondering if anyone had any information about the trail. I am looking for:
- Maps
- Drawings
- How towns along the trail use the cowboy trail

Any information would be awesome. Thanks!

Panda Transportation in Valentine
AJK from Overland Park, KS on 02/20/2020 10:27 PM
Do you do bike rentals or recommend a place that does? Family with 7 or maybe 8 riders .... too many for us to transport...

George from Poncha Springs CO on 02/23/2020 05:02 PM
What is the price from Valentine to Norfolk. Looking for late September.

Trail to Chadron
Stephen McGregor from Hannibal, MO on 02/10/2020 09:35 AM
So what's the trail like from Valentine to Chadron? Is it passable, it is fairly well kept? We've ridden all but that part and would like to come back finish it and then go on up to the Michelson for a couple of days of riding.


Karl from West Nyack,NY on 02/10/2020 10:28 AM
The trail from Valentine to Chadron is called US Route 20. I rode that way last May on a cross country ride, and was hoping to ride stretches of the “unimproved” trail, but it really doesn’t exist, and is behind cattle fences most the way. You might see a couple of old rail trestles off the road, but nothing rideable. I might be forgetting some rideable stretch here or there, but I don’t remember seeing any.

Cynthya from Lewis, KS on 02/10/2020 10:43 AM
We traveled Valentine to Norfolk and back in August of 2017. When we questioned in Valentine about the passability of the trail from Valentine to Norfolk the report was not encouraging, however that was not the case. The trail was passable better in some places than others, but definitely worth the trip.. My understanding is there is a short segment west of Valentine complete, but that for the most part, it is still rough and incomplete to Chadron. We have been hoping for that to open up. We would love to ride all The Cowboy Trail... Trail building takes time, money and people with the desire... Maybe with some
oordination, people wanting to ride could supply some labor...but takes coordinating and cooperation..

Alex from Lincoln on 02/11/2020 09:41 AM
There is 15 miles of newly surfaced trail between Gordon and Rushville, NE. Other than that, it is just the railroad bed (ballast/dirt) between Valentine and Chadron. Technically the cowboy trail ends about 5 miles east of Chadron at Mile Marker 400.

While a handful of people have attempted the portion west of Valentine, it is not easy and is not maintained as an open trail. I would not encourage anyone to do it, but it is possible if you're prepared. A fat bike or plus sized tire is almost required I'd say.

If you are seriously interested, give me a call - 402-471-5443

Fully supported Valentine to Norfolk 4 day bike Adventure Sept. 2020
North Fork Outfitting LLC from norfolk on 12/17/2019 12:38 PM
Hey folks, I want to promote a fully supported 200 mile 4 day Cowboy Trail Adventure ride in September of 2020. I am looking for volunteers from Neligh, O'Neil, and Long Pine or Bassett to use money provided to purchase food from local grocery and prepare it for the evening meal in the city park, along with local entertainment. I am planning to cap at 100 riders, who would either camp in the park or rent local hotel/motel rooms.(camping costs would be included in ride fees.) I will be calling a meeting of those interested in promoting your city in Norfolk in early January. Please get me your contact info if you would like to be included. Thanks!

North Fork Outfitting LLC from norfolk on 12/17/2019 12:41 PM
We will be donating a portion of the proceeds to help repair the flood damaged areas of the trail.

Trail Rider from Hampshire, IL on 01/02/2020 03:52 PM
I see that you are maybe planning a 4 day ride on the Cowboy Trail. I would love to ride with this group. I will keep watching for more information. What a great fund raising idea. I would gladly contribute.

North Fork Outfitting LLC from norfolk on 01/11/2020 10:45 AM
A bit more planning to do, but looks like the ride will be Labor Day weekend. $300 per person will include shuttle to Valentine, snack/water checkoints every 15-20 miles, 3 nights of camping with evening meal and local entertainment, town to town gear shuttle, 2 on trail support riders and 1 on highway, An event T-shirt and a local business "goody bag"! Please like us on Facebook for more info. We have a final planning meeting the first week in Feb., web site will be up to date and ready to start registering then.

North Fork Outfitting LLC from norfolk on 02/02/2020 01:03 PM

Panda Transportation in Valentine
Nancy Working from Golden CO on 12/29/2019 02:35 PM
Hoping to ride 100 miles of this trail from Valentine this spring. Where will you pick up along the trail and how much is the cost per person?

HEARTLAND FLOOD: The long road to recovery for Nebraska's Cowboy Trail
Ray (webmaster) on 12/07/2019 10:54 AM
Eight months after massive floods in Nebraska washed out chunks of one of the nation’s longest stretches of trail, crews are still trying to repair the scenic pathway used by hikers, bikers and horse riders

Source: WOWT

Full story:

Goathead thorns
Lee from DENHAM SPRINGS on 11/11/2019 10:13 AM
When is the WORST time for Goathead thorns? I'm planning a trip for the cowboy trail in late May or early June. Or should I plan for a different time of year?


Donna from Glasco on 11/11/2019 10:32 AM
Early spring before they firm up and dry out to reek their

Maynard from Lincoln on 12/05/2019 09:12 PM
The only place I found thorns was just west of Ainsworth, and it was only for 1/4 to 1/2 a mile. I bought thicker tires and put kevlar inserts in them. Never had a problem after that.

Alex from Lincoln on 12/06/2019 10:25 AM
I'll second "goatheads just west of Ainsworth". That's the only place I've ever had trouble getting flats with them on the entire trail.

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