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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Cowboy Trail.
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Cowboy Trail is Temporarily CLOSED due to Flooding
Alex from Lincoln on 03/14/2019 09:12 AM
Hi folks the Cowboy Trail in many areas is closed due to SEVERE FLOODING as of 3/14/19. I will post updates on here when I can get out and assess the damage.

Trail conditions
Beth from Michigan on 03/10/2019 01:34 PM
Husband and I enjoy tandem biking. What are the trail conditions and what is the surface of the trail made of? Asphalt? Dirt? Chipped stone? Thanks in advance for your input.

Cynthya from Salina on 03/10/2019 01:53 PM
The trail is a combination of all those surfaces. That and Sandy or lose gravel. It might be a real challenge for tandem riders. Be interesting to hear other thoughts.

Dougt from Onawa, Ia. on 03/10/2019 06:30 PM
Depending upon your tire choice it could be very challenging. Trail conditions get rougher on the western portion. I rode from Norfolk to Valentine and back last Sept and wrote a short review of the trip talking about accommodations and trail conditions. I did it on a mtn bike with tire liners and had no problems.

28mm tires
Kirk on 03/06/2019 10:10 AM
We ride 28mm tires. Amy comments about riding the Cowboy trail?

Steve McGregor from Hannibal, MO on 03/06/2019 11:18 AM
I rode the Clement XPLOR USH 35mm tire(with Tire Liners for the Goatheads etc) and they were ok. A few places where it is sub-irrigated(up from Bassett to Stuart) and they sunk in a bit. My friend rode with Schwalbe Marathon tires (they sort of have built in liners, and they were maybe 40mm but I think still had a wider profile and she did ok with them. I ended up with one flat (a goathead through the side of the tire) just west of O'Neal, and then after we finished the next day Lisa's tire was flat from something, never could find it..

Alex from Lincoln on 03/07/2019 09:11 AM
28c is a little on the narrow side, I recommend cramming the largest tire you can that still fits and running that at a lower psi for a nice supple ride as the Cowboy Trail is not the smoothest at times. The looser trail surface zaps any efficiency gains you'd have with a narrower tire anyways so I opt for comfort on CBT.

Greg from Bellevue Ne on 12/29/2018 08:33 PM
I was wondering if there is a transportation service that would drive us from Valentine back to the Bellevue area. Looking at options to do a self supported ride on the cowboy leaving from Norfolk and heading to Valentine

JOHN V. from PAPILLION, NEBRASKA on 12/30/2018 08:34 AM
When do you plan on riding and how many in your group?

Greg from Bellevue on 12/30/2018 10:08 AM
We are thinking late June or mid July and there would be 5 people in our group. We would leave from Norfolk and bike to valentine. Maybe tube and then would need a ride from valentine to Bellevue.

Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 03/04/2019 05:02 PM
I can do it, but that would be almost an all day trip for are you getting to Norfolk? Is there any way you could park in Norfolk, and then either shuttle to Valentine and ride back, or ride there and shuttle back? If either Norfolk option works, the Shuttle for 5 would be $400, for me to pick you up in Valentine and take you to Bellview would be closer to $700.(it would be 641 total miles and probably 12 hour trip for me and my helper....)

Greg Boettger on 03/05/2019 08:32 AM
We would come to Norfolk and park cars there. We just need to find a place to leave our cars. Then bike to valentine and once we get to Valentine, we would need a ride from Valentine to Norfolk. Hope that makes sense. We are looking at a pickup date from Valentine of June 16 or June 23 at about noon. Are those dates currently open for you? I hope to make the decision on the actual date by next week.

trail conditions-thorns??
dougt from Onawa, Ia on 08/28/2018 11:30 AM
I'm planning to ride from Norfolk to Valentine and back the week of Sept 17. Some earlier posts mentioned bad thorns between Ainsworth and Johnston. Is that still the case? Any other comments on trail conditions or lodging greatly appreciated.
I'm planning on staying in O'Neill, the Bunkhouse in Long Pine($35!!!) and Valentine on the trip both ways. Any recommendations on lodging in O'Neill and Valentine?

How secure is parking in Norfolk for 5-6 days?

HOPEFULLY someone will respond to this post!

Jeni on 08/30/2018 09:28 AM
re the thorns: I was advised that I'd be okay if I just stuck to the middle of the path in the areas where it was so bad.

The parking in Norfolk sounds great. A patrolled lot, pictures of your car and your expected return date are sent to local law enforcement.

Nothing on the lodging, but best of luck to you.

dougt from Onawa, Ia on 09/02/2018 09:51 AM
Thanks for your response!! Other than you, posting a question on this site is like shouting into an empty canyon! Do you know anything about the detour off the trail west of Neligh and how far one has to go on the highway before being able to get back to the trail?

Cynthya from Salina, Ks on 09/02/2018 01:28 PM
My experience of trail is a year back. We picked up plenty of thorns, but no flats. Just a front tire we ended up airing up everyday. About two miles out of Clearwater going east you get detoured to highway. No clear mark back to trail. We were told first turn to your right. Excluding turns into private property. Maybe three miles? They need to put up a sign for bikers to know the turn.

dougt from Onawa, Ia on 09/03/2018 10:42 AM
Thanks for your info Cynthia!

Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 03/04/2019 05:20 PM
Parking at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk is free and patrolled by local law enforcement, haven't had any issues in the last 4 years. Give me a call at North Fork Outfitting 402-316-0157 if you need anything else.

Website updates
Ray (webmaster) on 11/06/2018 09:53 PM
Welcome to the updated BikeCowboyTrail website!

If you've been here in the past, you may notice that the website looks different. It actually still has all the same information, forum discussions, and trip-planning tools as before... but now it features:

- An updated look (the site's design had been pretty much unchanged for nearly ten years!)

- Better maps - more fully using the features available in Google Maps

- "Responsive design", which is a web designer's way of saying the website should look good and work well in all different sizes of screens, from a desktop PC down to a cell phone

- A more interactive experience, with the website using cookies to remember the selections you've made and customize

- Improvements and added features to the tools such as the Trip Planner and Interactive map

I developed this new format on the Erie Canal site that I also run, After lots of testing, tweaking, and improving, the new format is ready to apply to the Cowboy Trail site.

Your feedback is welcome and appreciated - please send any comments to

Thanks and happy trails!

Alex from Lincoln on 11/07/2018 09:54 AM
Great updates Ray!

Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 03/04/2019 05:09 PM
Looks Great! There is a lady from Ewing that wants to get her hotel info added! She just emailed you. Have a great summer!

North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk
Dale Coon from GLENDALE HEIGHTS on 12/03/2018 12:52 PM
Do you shuttle bikes and people to Valentine to ride east on the trail. Are there services for shuttling baggage from town to town?

Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 03/04/2019 05:06 PM
Hi, give us a call, and depending on the number of days you plan to ride, we can work something out with your gear. 402-316-0157

Greg from Michigan on 10/23/2018 07:05 PM
Two of us are looking at riding the Cowboy Trail in May (probably west to east), would like to leave car at one end and shuttle to the other end. Looking for others to share shuttle, reducing the per person cost. We are somewhat flexible on dates.

Greg from Bellevue on 01/09/2019 09:44 AM
We are looking for something similar as well. We were planning on mid to late June and going from East to West and then maybe catching a float down the river in valentine. I am trying to find a shuttle service that would haul us back to Norfolk. If anyone knows of such a service, I would be very interested. .

Anonymous from Norfolk, NE on 01/21/2019 01:33 PM
North Fork Outfitters in Norfolk, NE has a shuttle service available. Information available at their website:

Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 03/04/2019 04:42 PM
Hey guys, I shuttle either way, and also have some great kayaking on 2 rivers in Norfolk! Give me a call at 402-316-0157 and we can get you all set up. The shuttle is $350 for up to 4 people and $50 per person after that, it takes about 3.5 hours.

Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 03/04/2019 04:48 PM
North Fork Outfitting

Summer Riding with kods
Maria andersson from Stockholm sweden on 11/19/2018 01:34 PM
We’e planning a crossUS trip by train and bike for the summernof 2019. Wed like to inkludera Therese cowboy trail in tjis trio. Is it possible to rent bikes and what’s it like ti tyske the trio during juli? We’re radonet tourtiders. Two adults and a 13yr DN a 7yr old

Cynthya from Salina on 11/19/2018 02:41 PM
We rode in August 2017. We had heat at time and one day of rain. July will be warm. Hopefully someone will tell about their experience in July. Kids should do fine. Unless things have changed there will be some weeds, stickers and rough spots, but manageable. We did not experience flats. There are some bicycle shops in Norfolk...hopefully one of them will respond. We enjoyed the ride and challenges that came along. I wish you a good ride.

John M Hoover from Avon, Indiana on 01/06/2019 09:04 AM
Ms. Andersson;
You need to be careful riding the Cowboy Trail in July. The temperatures can reach 34 - 37 centigrade. In this section of the USA there are few trees. It is a very sunny. The combination of high temperatures, sunny skies and no shade can cause heat exhaustion, dehydration and a very challenging experience. Have you considered a route that goes across the USA on the northern portion? Amtrak has a route that begins in Chicago and ends in Seattle. You can purchase a ticket that allows you to stopover at any station. Lycka till.

Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 03/04/2019 04:45 PM
Hi, North Fork Outfitting has rental bikes available. We also offer shuttle service. or call me at 402-316-0157

Goat Head Thorns
Dan from Evanston, IL on 03/02/2019 04:13 PM
I'll be riding the Cowboy Trail in mid- to late- June. How worried do I need to be about Goat Head Thorn? Thank you.

Alex from Lincoln on 03/04/2019 08:41 AM
I wouldn't worry about them but definitely be prepared for the possibility of having a double flat so bring at least two tubes on your trip. The best defense against them is simply staying away from the edges of the trail if you can as that's where they creep on to the trail. The only area I've had a problem was about 1/2 mile west of Ainsworth there was a bad patch and my buddy and I got double flats but that was several years ago. I haven't had an issue since on the trail.

Biker4 from PAPILLION, NEBRASKA on 01/08/2019 05:39 PM
From reading some of the comments it looks like the state of Nebraska still has a problem in maintaining the trail west of O'Neal.
It is too bad they do not do more to fix this issue. We would have a boom in cycling and more business to the smaller towns.

samsus on 02/12/2019 09:57 AM
maintaining = boom and more business is simply speculation. Many sections of the trail aren't even paved.

Biker4 from PAPILLION, NEBRASKA on 02/12/2019 11:33 AM
Maybe before we condemn and cast negative doubts we should all try and make all Nebraskans aware of what needs to be done to help support the trail in a way that will benefit all users. Improving the trail to make a better experience for all who ride or hike the trail will shed a positive image on Nebraska as a whole. The boom will come in time if we work together.

Don from Kansas on 02/13/2019 08:13 AM
Hikers appreciate services available along the trail... Paved? Has anyone rode or hiked. A Camino in Spain or rode anywhere in Europe? Biking is so popular in Europe, clubs in the smallest of populations... Roads? They don't need no stinking paved roads.

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