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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Cowboy Trail.
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Robert from Long Beach Ca on 10/09/2020 10:58 PM
I have a fear of heights. Is this a problem on the Cowboy Trail?

Bob Clark from Topeka on 10/14/2020 01:20 AM
Several bridges are VERY high, so not sure if it's for you.

Cynthya from Lewis,KS on 10/14/2020 05:18 AM
My first thought was the first bridge east of Valentine. It is high and crosses a long span. The view is fabulous. My husband is not one who likes heights.... but he made it. It's a sight worth seeing...but??? It's 3 miles east of Valentine. You could ride to.. look see and ride back.

There are other bridges... that first stands out in my mind. To my memory none of the others are quite as long...not nearly that high... I mainly enjoyed the view. I'm not bothered by heights, but have to say the first bridge out of Valentine is high abd long, but it is a sight to behold

WEST of Valentine
Ted Wuebben from omaha on 07/14/2020 11:18 PM
looking to ride WEST of Valentine.. The trail Is "undeveloped"

Is there a trail really there? but hard to ride? or should I just count on taking the highways instead.

Renée from Cape Cod, MA on 07/21/2020 08:23 PM
Hi, You can pick up the trail again heading west in Gordon ( on the right) to around Rushville ( maybe not all the way there). Between Gordon and Valentine it looks like there could be a very undeveloped trail.

Hope that helps,


MP from Valentine on 10/10/2020 09:04 PM
West of Valentine is mainly a grassy trail. Areas closer to communities do have more of a dirt trail from what I've noticed driving Hwy 20. A few weeks ago as I walked the trail, I met a biker using the grassy trail west of Valentine, so it's possible.

Robert from Long Beach Ca on 10/09/2020 10:58 PM
I have a fear of heights. Is this a problem on the Cowboy Trail?

tire size
Kathleen from Cincinnati OH on 10/09/2020 07:25 AM
Thanks for responses to my previous questions, now I have a few more.

Can you use 28 mm tires on the trail? Or do you need bigger ones?

Alex from Lincoln on 10/09/2020 03:17 PM
While it is possible with 28c tires, your experience will be better on the trail with at least a 35c. Ideally stuff the widest tire you can in your bike frame and run a lower psi to make your bike more supple. Running tubeless with sealant is best as well in case goatheads are present or at least tubes with some sealant in them.

from Norfolk to Omaha
Kathleen from Cincinnati OH on 10/09/2020 07:27 AM
So the NDOT map suggests using 275 to get back to Omaha from the eastern end of the trail but that road has trucks traveling at 75 mph! Any other ideas about how to get back on county roads (far less traveled)?

Alex from Lincoln on 10/09/2020 03:04 PM
The NDOT map is not recommending using 275, the map shows the traffic volumes of the road and marks 275 as red which is a high traffic roadway and thus should be avoided. Utilize roadways that are either purple or green which are lower traffic routes according to the map. Note that the width of the line indicates whether or not the road has a shoulder and also the width of that road shoulder.

best sections
Ellen from Chicago on 09/27/2020 07:06 PM
Can anyone suggest the best parts to do? I don't want to go on the highway and it sounds as if the trail does that in a few places. Thanks

Alex from Lincoln on 09/28/2020 11:04 AM
Many regard the stretch between Long Pine and Valentine to be the most scenic but it depends what you're into. And the trail doesn't go on the highway at all but runs adjacent to it in some areas. It's usually separated by at least 50 - 75 feet. There are some damaged areas though that require detours. See NGPC's map for where those areas are.

Ellen from Chicago on 09/28/2020 12:16 PM

Rob from Omaha on 10/02/2020 11:20 AM
I would echo Alex's reply. WAs up in the Valentine/Longpine area last weekend. Some people ride on Highway 20 where the trail parallel's it but there is no need to. Beautiful country!

Kathleen from Cincinnati OH on 09/26/2020 06:16 PM

Three of us are planning to ride from Seattle to Omaha next June. I think we might use the Cowboy Trail to cross NE.

Two questions:
1. Will we have to worry about goatherds that time of year? (She asks, hoping the answer is no)
2. Any advice about getting from Norfolk to Omaha?

And where is the bunkhouse?

Alex from Lincoln on 09/28/2020 11:11 AM
There is always the potential for goat heads in the summer, just have to be prepared. To get from Norfolk to Omaha, take a look at NDOT's bike map. It shows highway usage so you can pick a route with low traffic.

I think you're referring to the Long Pine Bunkhouse? If so:

Rob from Omaha on 10/02/2020 11:16 AM
Go tubeless and as others have mentioned don't pull them out. I was on a section of it last weekend in the longpine/valentine area with no issues.

best sections
Ellen from Chicago on 09/27/2020 07:06 PM
Can anyone suggest the best parts to do? I don't want to go on the highway and it sounds as if the trail does that in a few places. Thanks

best sections
Ellen from Chicago on 09/27/2020 07:06 PM
Can anyone suggest the best parts to do? I don't want to go on the highway and it sounds as if the trail does that in a few places. Thanks

best sections
Ellen from Chicago on 09/27/2020 07:06 PM
Can anyone suggest the best parts to do? I don't want to go on the highway and it sounds as if the trail does that in a few places. Thanks

Carriage House Motel in O'Neill
Henry on 09/24/2020 11:23 AM
Nothing about this place has changed, even with new ownership! The staff is still rude and the place is unprofessional and incredibly unclean!!
My recommendation is to take your money elsewhere!

Trail from Valentine west
Pepper from Grant NE on 09/18/2020 10:10 AM
Just wondering if anyone knows the condition of the Trail from Valentine west... or possibly Chadron east?

Alex from Lincoln on 09/22/2020 09:09 AM
The trail west of valentine was never developed. Recently though a 15 mile section between Gordon and Rushville, NE has been completed.

Cynthia from Omaha on 09/23/2020 04:36 PM
Going about 10 miles west of Bassett there is a bridge out with a decent detour.

East City Park in Ainsworth
Heidi R Richey from Cumberland on 09/12/2020 01:17 PM
Wondering if there are hot showers available at this campground.

Alex on 09/15/2020 08:11 AM
Not 100% sure but there is a pool there so most likely they do.

Pepper from Grant NE on 09/18/2020 10:13 AM
I have camped at the City Park and there are not showers, but nice restrooms!

Trail Report late August
Dougt from Onawa, Ia. on 09/08/2020 04:40 PM
Two of us did Norfolk to Valentine and back Aug 24-29 and I thought I'd give a trail report since I never got responses to some of my queries. This may be helpful to the Parkinsons group taking off in a few days.
Best maintained area of the trail is Norfolk to Battle Creek, so enjoy that. On both sides of Tilden we ran into areas of thick, loose gravel that is rough to ride. My brother floated over it with 4" tires but I had to put a foot down a few times with my 2" mtn bike tires. One detour to the highway between Oakdale and Neligh, two between Neligh and Clearwater.
After leaving O'Neill we started running into goatheads and started checking every 6-10 miles and removing them. Seriously, we removed DOZENS of them over the 400 miles of riding. I had new tires, Tuffy strips, and x-heavy tubes and never actually had a flat but had slow leaks in both tires the last day and a half. I'll probably look into slime before next year. There's a detour just outside of Long Pine on a gravel road.
It was very hot and very windy for 2 or 3 of our days and two water bottles just didn't do it so water up every chance you have. Long Pine/Valentine is short on water stops. 8 miles outside of Valentine we saw a windmill pumping and watered up with cold water, not even knowing whether it was good water or not, nor caring that much in the moment. The trail is open all the way to Valentine.
In 6 days of riding we met one couple doing the trail and one guy riding solo, and in O'Neill we met 2 couples from Omaha who had decided that this was a lot tougher than the Wabash Trail(correctly) and were calling it quits and heading home.
I always say that this ride the way we do it isn't an easy, fun ride, but more of an adventure. It's addictive but come prepared. Good luck!

Tim on 09/09/2020 10:42 AM
Yes, I rode the trail from Valentine to Norfolk 9/3-9/5 as well as Hwy 20 from Hay Springs to Valentine 9/1-9/2. I rode part of the trail from Rushville to Gordon but it was loose and somewhat difficult. I ride a 29er hardtail tubeless so thorns weren't a concern. The trail is in good shape there but not enough riders to pack down the loose rock and create a hard trail. Lots of local riders between Norfolk and Battle Creek on my last day. I only saw one other cyclist between Valentine and Ewing. I did Valentine to Bassett, Bassett to Ewing, and Ewing to Norfolk. I wish they could get the entire trail done to Chadron, but it was an amazing ride between Valentine and Norfolk.

Norfolk to Valentine
Ted Wuebben from omaha on 09/08/2020 02:59 PM
Is the City park in Ewing available for camping our first stop

We are riding from Norfolk to Valentine starting Thursday sept 10th As board memebers of Parkinson's Nebraska (an organization that helps people with Parkinson's and their care givers on a daily bases) we will be stopping, shopping, eating and hopefully making more people aware of how we can help those who suffer from Parkinson's.

we hope to do about 50 miles a day

Sherry Olson from East Ellijay on 09/08/2020 03:43 PM
Do you have a site following your journey? Wonderful cause. Wish you the best!

William Regan from Morro Bay, ca. on 09/03/2020 08:17 PM
What direction is best to ride? Start in Norfolk or Valentine?

Alex on 09/04/2020 11:00 AM
Both have the pros and cons. Riding Valentine to Norfolk gives you prevailing winds. Norfolk to Valentine, you end with the bridge over the Niobrara River. I live in Lincoln so I prefer Valentine to Norfolk so it's only a 2 hour drive home vs 5 hours when I finish the trail.

William Regan from Morro Bay,ca. on 09/04/2020 08:25 PM
Thanks Alex!

Fastest Known Time
Jon Fye from Omaha on 08/31/2020 09:53 AM
Does anyone know what is the fastest time on foot to complete Norfolk to Valentine?

Alex on 08/31/2020 10:46 AM
There's been a few Ultra marathons on the trail. I think one guy ran the whole thing in a weekend a few years ago.

Favorite 100 mile stretch
Marc from Boston, MA on 08/24/2020 08:35 AM
My Son and I have limited time for a bikepacking trip. We can cover about 100 miles.

Any recommendations on which section of the trail would give us the most bang for the buck? Scenery? Point of interests? etc.

We can both tent camp and hotel stay as necessary

We are from New England so this is some new landscapes for us.


Marc from Boston, MA on 08/24/2020 08:36 AM
Oh, we would cover about 25-30 miles in a day in order to take our time

SherryO on 08/24/2020 09:13 AM
Every part of the trail has it's own beauty but if you can only do 100 miles, start in Valentine. You’ll get more diversity of landscapes. Stay at the bunkhouse. It’s fun part of history.

Cynthya from Lewis,KS on 08/24/2020 09:46 AM
My thought is the same as Sherry.... each part has its own beauty, but one of the highlights in my book is the old rail trestle just outside of Valentine. I have not ridden since 2017 and hear there is flood damage in places... but it it is all beautiful and worth the ride.

Alex on 08/24/2020 10:00 AM
I would recommend doing Valentine to Long Pine and either staying in the bunkhouse or Long Pine SRA if interested in camping. It think that would be about a 110 mile round trip.

Alex on 08/24/2020 10:00 AM
I would recommend doing Valentine to Long Pine and either staying in the bunkhouse or Long Pine SRA if interested in camping. It think that would be about a 110 mile round trip.

Marc from Boston, MA on 08/24/2020 01:01 PM
Thank you for the posts!
Seems starting in Valentine is the way to go!

Is something like this possible?
Drive to Valentine, leave the bikes, drive the car to say Atkinson get a ride back to Valentine and then bike the 100 miles straight?

Are there places of business and trail angels that with compensation would be open to something like that?

SherryO on 08/25/2020 07:52 AM
I talked to a couple that rented a car to set their own shuttle and just drove it the day before. They said it was cheaper then the shuttle cost.

SherryO on 08/25/2020 07:58 AM
I talked to a couple that rented a car to set their own shuttle and just drove it the day before. They said it was cheaper then the shuttle cost.

Bob Clark from Topeka on 08/27/2020 06:53 PM
Loved Long Pine area

Long Pine Detour
JL on 08/23/2020 09:33 PM
Hello All—What is the detour situation outside of Long Pine? The Nebraska parks map says that part of the trail is still out. Thanks-JL

Dougt from Onawa, Ia. on 08/23/2020 10:42 PM
Ha! Good luck getting a response from anyone. I posted a week ago asking about several detours shown on some maps but not others and got nothing! I don't know what the moderator is up to...

Two of us take off tomorrow from Norfolk to Valentine and back. I recall that last year that portion of the trail was closed but it was well marked and the detour was just 2 or 3 miles of gravel. Not a problem at all compared to some of the possible detours like the one east of Valentine which I can get NO information on.....

Alex on 08/24/2020 10:03 AM
The closed sections of the trail are on NGPC's trail map are accurate. The trail just east of Long Pine is still closed. Utilize the highway or gravel roads to detour around.

Jess on 08/26/2020 01:30 PM
We road the trail in mid July and a Long Pine local showed us how to detour in Long Pine w/out getting on the Highway.

Where the trail crosses main street:
Turn right (S) on main street and go a very short distance to 1st Street

Turn Left on 1st street and go east on 1st street until you hit a paved asphalt county road (maybe 1/4 mile)

Merge/turn left on to asphalt county road and head North East to gravel road 877 which is right before a bridge for the closed part of the cowboy trail (again, maybe a 1/4 mile)

Turn right and head east on Road 877 about a mile until the first intersection and take a left and head north less than a mile and intersect the trail again where it crosses the road.

It is really easy and quick.

Advice for a newbie!
Debbie from Poole (on the Jurassic Coast), Dorset, UK on 07/29/2020 04:24 AM
I've only just heard about the Cowboy Trail and it's peaked my interest!Any info from anyone who has ridden part of/all of the trail would be gratefully received! It's something I would love to do as part of my bucket list....defo not this year because of Covid-19 but at some point in the not too distant future. Would the trail be suitable for a couple of English women (47 & 58) to do? Plenty of places to stay en route etc? Can't wait to hear back from any of you!! Thanks!!

SherryO on 07/29/2020 06:20 AM
My husband and I rode it out and back parking in Norfolk. You can camp in the campground in Norfolk and make instant friends with the park staff. We camped at city parks and resupplied at grocery and convenience stores. Wonderful locally owned restaurants with awesome food and friendly people. Don’t be surprised if a rancher or a veteran sit down with you to have a cup of coffee. Stay at the bunkhouse, you’ll get your key from the mayor of the town and learn about the area. We found trail conditions good. We rode tubeless with stanz on our tandem. Lots of wildlife. In Valentine, we paddle the Niobrara River, a beautiful wild and scenic, float past the tallest waterfall in Nebraska. You can rent a canoe. We had wind and tornado warnings but that only added to the adventure. Enjoy!

Cynthya from Lewis,KS on 07/29/2020 08:06 AM
My husband and I rode the trail in 2017 at ages over 60. There is camping available in all of the towns along the trail that we stopped in. We traveled in an RV so that was our place of residence though we have camped along other trails. Motels out West maybe more sparse; closer to Norfolk you'll have more. That said it has been 3 years since we've ridden and they have had flooding which is cause some problems along the trail. Somebody that's more recently ridden can clarify that information. We did have a great ride, met nice people and got through the rough spots in the trail just fine.

Brad Hayward from Bolivar Missouri on 07/29/2020 11:24 AM
My buddy and I rode the western half from Atkinson to Valentine and back first week of October 2017. Here are a few of our take wasys: The Nebraskans we met were the most hospitable and friendliest people we'd ever been around. Run tubeless system on tires. It will drastically reduce likelihood of flats. Be aware of the "goathead" puncture vine thorns that you might run across occasionally on the trail. If they show up in your tires, DO NOT PULL THEM OUT!!, just leave them. The camping was really great in the towns of Atkinson, Ainsworth, and Valentine, mostly we stayed in city parks. The scenery and country is AMAZING!!We had an outstaning trip and are going to do the eastern half this fall.

Lynn L from Eugene, Oregon on 07/29/2020 10:00 PM
We (two ladies in our mid-50s) are planning to do this trip, hopefully in 2021.

Can anyone tell us about their experiences riding from Valentine to Chadron? We'd love to do the ENTIRE trail, not just the Norfolk to Valentine section. Specifically, will we be walking our bikes? Are there locked gates? Will water be available? We have hybrid tires (1.75").

Thanks to all!

Carol from Chippewa Falls WI on 08/20/2020 07:14 AM
A few ladies from Wisconsin are looking for a bike adventure. We both have Trek road bikes. What is the best route with paved roads? I don't know how our bikes would do on the crushed limestone.

Alex on 08/24/2020 11:30 AM
Carol - I'd recommend using this road traffic map our DOT made to find a good route. It shows what roads have low traffic and if they have shoulders.

What is the trail riding surface like?
Rough Rider of Houston from Houston, Texas on 08/22/2020 08:22 AM

What is the trail surface like? I would like to use my commuter bike and not a mountain style bike on this trail. This is mainly because I will also be riding on many actual roads as part of my overall trip.

Alex on 08/24/2020 11:24 AM
Most of the trail is a crushed limestone trail with some sections in town being paved. I would recommend a tire width of at least 35c or 1.5". There are some softer spots on the trail due to the flooding from last year that have been patched but not permanently fixed. If it gets too soft in an area the highway is easy to jump on to from the trail.

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