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Miriam from Columbus, NE on 06/21/2021 07:14 AM
Does anyone know if dogs on leashes are allowed on the Cowboy Trail? Or is it prohibited since horses are on the trail as well?

Alex from Lincoln on 06/21/2021 08:21 AM
Pets must be on a leash no longer than 6', but yes they are allowed.

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hoteling the trail
kt22mike from Cape Cod on 05/11/2021 04:19 AM
is it possible to do the entire trail staying in hotels and eating in restaurants? Is there a recommended strategy to do this (which places to stay each night etc.)? Ideally a 4 or 5 day itinerary.

Any shuttle services or buses to get you back to the beginning of the ride?

Jess from Omaha on 05/11/2021 04:50 PM
It's definitely doable but you will likely have one long day.

Valentine to Basset - 64
Bassett to O'Neill - 48
O'Neill to Neligh - 41
Neligh to Norfolk - 35

Valentine has a brewery, restaurants and is a nice place to start and your first day could be a long day to Basset which has a nice down town hotel.

I would also make sure to stop in Atkinson, they have a developing nice town and a nice brewery and pizza restaurant.

Newport has a nice self service pool haul on main street. Johnstown has a nice bar with food.

Another option would be:

Valentine to Ainsworth - 47
Ainsworth to Atkinson - 48
Atkinson to Ewing - 40
Ewing to Norfolk - 54

All of the towns mentioned have hotels listed and a lot of the towns listed have food but you will want to verify.

Have fun

SherryO on 05/11/2021 05:29 PM
The interactive map is very good. You can tailor your trip for your fitness level and side trip interests. Don’t rush it because the best thing about the trail is the interaction with some of the nicest, salt of the earth, people you will ever meet.

SherryO on 05/11/2021 05:35 PM
The interactive map is very good. You can tailor your trip for your fitness level and side trip interests. Don’t rush it because the best thing about the trail is the interaction with some of the nicest, salt of the earth, people you will ever meet.

Gilbert Pena from raleigh on 06/20/2021 01:28 PM
I will be riding the trail real soon with this schedule:
* 29 June - Dropped off @ Econolodge Valentine
* 30 June - Valentine to Ainsworth 47 - Rodeway Inn
* 1 July - 48 miles to Atkinson - Sandhills Guest House
* 2 July - 40 miles to Ewing - Two Rivers Motel
* 3 July - 54 miles to Norfolk - Picked up @ Trail Head!
I am bringing a beach cruiser with fat tires!
I am looking forward to a fun ride!

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Spring Valley Park in Newport
Charles on 05/23/2021 06:19 PM
This campground seems abandoned - we scoped it out in May 2021.
The grass was mowed, but the water was off and that bathrooms were locked. The nearby house seemed abandoned and the buildings were nearly falling over.

The other commenter is correct about the pool hall - its located directly south of the trail in the middle of Newport. They have various snacks + cold drinks for sale using the honors system. I called a phone number on the vending machine outside and was told that I could camp behind the pool hall and that there was water in front of the city hall nearby. There didn't appear to be any restrooms, but there were a few homes that seemed occupied nearby.

Cynthya from Lewis,KS on 05/23/2021 09:30 PM
Agree about The Eight Ball(I think it is called). We were there in 2014...did not realize you could go in. We were back the next day and a local told us it was open and honor system. It is a nice little place...but as facilities.

Luke from Omaha on 06/16/2021 01:57 PM
+1 for the Newport Pool Hall. Good spot for camping w/water just down the road by the community center and church. Melissa and Shawn have a special thing going there, and talked to us about plans to possibly install a restroom near the pool hall for bike campers. I hope travelers stop and support the pool hall and their efforts. Was truly one of the highlights of our trip.

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Neligh to Norfolk
Peter Sheridan from Santa Rosa California on 06/14/2021 06:52 PM
A few miles out of Neligh there is a detour. It's the section that veers away from the highway and a missed scenic opportunity. Connect back to the trail where it becomes visible from the road. The stooges that work on this trail set a sand trap for me this morning that I couldn't get out of. Despite having fairly good mountain bike skills six inches of loose material and about twenty feet of it got the best of me and I went down before I could unclip. Surprisingly the rest of the trail is solid and quick going. Don't know why the trail conditions are so inconsistent. Neligh to Norfolk is pretty scenic with river views at the end. Lots of opportunities for food and water along this section.

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O'Neill to Neligh
Peter Sheridan from Santa Rosa California on 06/13/2021 08:20 PM
Trail conditions in this part are good. A few stretches have the red rock fines laid to thick. I don't know what possessed whomever to do this. Somebody should get a tractor and scrape it off. It will never sink in to the base. The parts with the grey rock are the best with only a thin layer on top of the base. You can make good time on this. Ewing has a market but it's closed on Sunday. Up the road there is a Hiway Mart with snacks and drinks. You can see it from the trail on the left. After Clearwater there is a detour pointing to the highway. The trail bridge is out. There is no signage on where to get back on the trail. The best thing to do is ride on the road till you see the orange pylons where the trail used to be. This part has been washed out by the river. After you pass these look for the next dirt path back to the trail and your on your way to Neligh in about two miles.

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Spring Valley Park in Newport
Martin Bassani from Louisville, CO on 04/19/2021 01:58 PM
Has anyone camped here? I could not find any information anywhere which shows it is OK.

Alex from Lincoln on 04/21/2021 08:58 AM
Have not camped there before. I have camped at the park in town next to the little shelter they have.

Cynthya B from Lewis, Kansas on 04/21/2021 09:43 AM
There is a small pool hall... The Eight Ball (I think) . Snacks and memorabilia. The camping may only be a small city park. Facilities??? There is nice camping in next town east, Stuart. It has been four years since we rode the trail.

Shawn from Newport on 06/13/2021 10:08 AM
You can camp at the Newport Pool Hall.

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Bassett to O'Neill
Peter Sheridan from Santa Rosa California on 06/12/2021 09:39 PM
Trail conditions were good all the way. We had a headwind almost the whole way and gave up and got on the highway about ten miles before O'Neill. This was the part that someone mentioned had goatheads so I can't comment on that. The road parallels at this point so we didn't miss anything and made better time. West to East is better but no guarantee that the winds may change. The Newport Pool Hall has water, drinks and snacks for cyclists. Stuart has a good grocery store with benches on both sides of the street to eat your lunch. Atkinson has a covered picnic area with cold water at the spigot.

Tony Stuthman from NORFOLK on 06/13/2021 07:09 AM
Hi Peter! Love the updates! It was great seeing you folks riding the trail Friday! Thanks again for using our shuttle! Hope the rest of your trip goes great!

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Valentine to Bassett
Peter Sheridan from Santa Rosa California on 06/11/2021 08:27 PM
Rode the trail today from Valentine to Bassett. The trail conditions were great with the wind at my back. I ride with full panniers on 32cc Panaracer gravel king sk and had no problems. The trail is hard pack with 1/4 rock fines. In some places the fines drift into small piles but are not a problem if you pay attention. Heading west at Long Pine the bridge is out. Detour to the highway and pickup the trail where you can find it on the left after the silos. The highway is great with little traffic, very polite drivers and lots of clean shoulder to ride on. About half way on the trail you will find that Johnstown has a picnic shelter, toilets and water.

Peter Sheridan from Santa Rosa California on 06/12/2021 09:28 PM
Someone mentioned earlier that you can connect to the trail after the detour heading east by heading out to the highway and turning right on 440th Rd.

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Favorite segment of Segment of Cowboy trail
DrGus78 from Atlanta, Ga on 03/05/2021 07:19 PM
My buddy and I are returning home in late August via Nebraska and are planning a full day to do part of the Cowboy Trail. We would like to pick out a 60-70 mile segment and cover that in an out and back. Since neither of us have been there any recommendations on favorite parts of the trail, places to see, lodging and places to eat would be appreciated.



Alex from Lincoln on 03/08/2021 08:40 AM
The trail between Valentine and Long Pine is typically considered the most scenic. Valentine to Johnstown and back would be about 72 miles. There's a fun bar in Johnstown called L-Bow-Room to have lunch at. There's lots of great things to do in Valentine as well like tubing/canoeing down the Niobrara.

Tony Stuthman from NORFOLK on 05/27/2021 08:07 AM
Lots of great things to do in Norfolk too! We've got tubing and kayaking on the Elkhorn River and the North Fork River Trail, as well as an amazing new downtown Riverpoint Shopping and Entertainment District!

opedaler from Ne nebraska on 06/09/2021 08:50 PM
Don't miss the canoeing/tubing/kayaking in Valentine. We've done that long before there was a cowboy trial. Outfitters there are very user friendly.

EDIT: I wouldn't recommend canoeing over the fourth of July......especially if you have youngsters along. It's very, very busy and there are a lot of college kids during that time the kids might see some things they shouldn't.

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Goathead Thorns
Anonymous from Ben Gericke on 06/09/2021 05:49 PM
For all those that cycle through, there are goatheads between Atkinson and Neligh. We went on the road for this section. We are on narrow tires and the loose gravel around Tilden made us work hard.

opedaler from Ne nebraska on 06/09/2021 08:41 PM
We've been riding round trips between Norfolk and Tilden and have had no problems, but I did stop a couple riding the trail from Valentine to Norfolk. I talked to them west of Neligh. They were currently on the shoulder of 275 because of a wash-out detour between Clearwater and a little west of Neligh. I gave them a heads up that there would be another detour between Neligh and Oakdale. They were from Alaska and it appeared they had extensive trail experience. They had wide tires and were loaded down pretty well, but also also mentioned thorn issues. Their problem was solved by going tubless and it eliminated the need to ride the road outside of flooding detours. They did carry tubes for emergency use, but had not had to use them as the slime plugged the holes sufficiently. I'm not sure how wide their tires were, but they were considerably wider than the 40mm we've been using on all limestone trails currently. It seemed to eliminate the soft surface problems some have mentioned.

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shuttle a vechile
Hal Wayne from Denver on 05/25/2021 06:51 PM
Want to ride oneway... Any suggestions on shuttling our car from Valentine to Norfolk ?? Would plan to ride the last week of june 2021.. Thanks..

Charles on 05/26/2021 09:59 PM
My friend and I recently used a uhaul for transportation. We rented one in Oneill, left our cars and put the bicycles in the uhaul. We then drove to Valentine and turned in the uhaul. An option to consider!

Tony Stuthman from NORFOLK on 05/27/2021 06:59 AM
North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk offers shuttle service. 402-316-0157
Total cost with tax is $401.25 for up to 4 riders.

Hal Wayne from Denver on 05/31/2021 01:05 PM
Did check with North Fork Outfitting, they would charge $401 for one person oneway even if you meet them at Valeentine for their return trip back to Norfolk, that was without any gear my body only..

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travel to valentine ne
Anonymous on 11/25/2020 09:37 AM
Are there any bus routes or shuttles to Valentine nebraska

Pepper from Grant NE on 12/10/2020 08:44 AM
Yes, I believe there Is a shuttle that runs from Norfolk to Valentine. Sorry, I don’t have details. ?? The Cowboy Trail!

Neil from Kearney/Plainview on 01/18/2021 12:35 PM
Thier is a place out of Norfolk NE that does shuttles. here is their website. I have never used them but have had friends who used them for a float trip.

Tony Stuthman from NORFOLK on 05/27/2021 08:15 AM
Hi folks! Full service Shuttle either way 402-316-0157 North Fork Outfitting on Facebook! Norfolk to Valentine shuttle is $401.25 tax included for up to 4 riders.(additional charge for larger groups)

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Panda Transportation in Valentine
De and Di on 03/28/2021 06:22 PM
Has anyone recently used Panda Transportation from Valentine to Norfolk?

Alex from Lincoln on 04/06/2021 09:00 AM
I haven't but the guy that did this writeup on is Cowboy Trail trip claims he did -

There is also North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk that does shuttle service for the trail.

Tony Stuthman from NORFOLK on 05/27/2021 08:03 AM
thanks Alex. My contact is 402-316-0157 or! North Fork Outfitting on Facebook!

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Bike Rentals/Full Service Shuttle
Tony Stuthman from NORFOLK on 05/27/2021 07:07 AM
Hey folks, North Fork Outfitting in beautiful Norfolk,NE offers a full service shuttle, as well as Specialized Rental bikes and gear! Call 402-316-0157 or visit for reservations. Weekends are booked thru June, weekday trips available.

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Wood Lake City Park in Wood Lake
Charles on 05/23/2021 06:13 PM
We camped here in May 2021 - excellent campground! There is water, toilets, electricity, around 10 picnic tables + 1 awning to keep out of the rain.
Bathrooms are well stocked with TP, napkins and soap. There is a guest book in a mailbox as well as a small electrical area - they ask for donations to support the energy used.

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Invite to Join in Pedaling the Trail next early July
Rickonabike from Brooklyn, NYC on 11/24/2020 04:10 PM
Anyone want to join a bunch of folks pedaling the Trail early July (July 5, 6 and part of the 7th) 2021?
I am with a non-profit bicycle touring club (People Cycling) and a group of us (24) are going cross country next year from Seattle to NYC.
On July 4 we go from White River, SD to Valentine so we can pedal the Cowboy Trail.
The fifth of July we pedal from Valentine to Ainsworth (short day, but our overall average is 62~) then on July 6th we continue to O'Neill. Then the next day we will only be on the Trail for about 30-40 miles, because we depart south towards Albion (probably after Clearwater or Neligh).
Anyone who wants to pedal along with us for any of what I mention above let me know. We are using indoor lodging and have a luggage truck (no SAG). And we ALWAYS have an evening happy hour (as long as you are nice we will give you a free beer!).
Regards, Rick of Bicycle Habitat, NYC

RobinG from Lincoln, Nebraska on 11/29/2020 07:27 PM
Myself and friends would be interested in riding with you on July 7.

Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau from Norfolk,NE on 01/07/2021 03:08 PM
Please contact us to help plan this trip! Visit or call 402-371-2932. We'd love to help.

MP from Hillsboro, OR on 02/17/2021 06:18 PM
I'm planning a similar solo trip about that time. When do you plan to leave Seattle? I'm trying to ride as many rail trails as I can manage going across the country. It would be fun to ride with you for a bit.

Robert Rose from Grapevine, TX on 02/18/2021 04:47 PM
I'm riding Seattle to DC (June thru Aug 2021). Looks like your group will be about a 2 weeks ahead of me as I anticipate riding thru Valentine on 7/19. Enjoy the ride!!

Rickonabike from Brooklyn NYC on 05/19/2021 07:44 PM
Just touching base - Rickonabike here and our x-c tour is set and we will be on the Cowboy Trail early July. Robin: love to have you join us (and any others as well) we are under the umbrella of People Cycling (dot org) a non-profit bicycling club. If you use my name at then tag on gmail dot com you can drop me an email. Or thru People Cycling

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Trail condition and how much highway riding has to be done?
Isaac Terwilleger from LINCOLN,NE on 05/13/2021 09:39 PM
Watched a video of a couple who rode the Cowboy within the last year. Lots of spots they needed to walk their bikes because the limestone and some red stuff was so soft. Also they had to ride on Highway 20 as parts of the trail looked like they were not rideable (like tall grass and no trail). Is the trail a thru trail. Will the trail be hard-packed in September?

Alex from Lincoln on 05/14/2021 03:02 PM
Greetings! There are some sections of the trail that still have damage from the 2019 flooding. The trail has been fixed with some temporary repairs to make it passable but some areas are a rough still. When the flood occurred, in addition to removing vast sections of the limestone surfacing, it deposited sand in many locations which makes the trail difficult to compact properly.

Here's a list of the main detours you will need to do this year.

- The Elkhorn river eroded around the the trail bridge over it between Oakdale and Neligh. Use the highway shoulder between Oakdale and Neligh for about 4 miles.

- Just west of Neligh there is a short stretch next to the Elkhorn river that has eroded into the trail right of way severely. You will be able to see some construction cones on the trail. You will need to ride on the adjacent highway shoulder for roughly 1/4 mile and then can jump back on the trail.

- Between Neligh and Clearwater there is a section of trail that is permanently closed due the Elkhorn river reclaiming the trail in this section. You will need to take 519th ave back to the highway and ride around on the highway for about 3 miles. You can take 517th ave and head south to get back on to the cowboy trail. There is a sign directing you to the highway when you should get off the trail. About a 2.5 mile detour for this one.

- The next closed spot is on the east edge of Long Pine. A large section of the trail embankment was washed out due to a culvert failure from the flood. To detour around, take 440th rd to the highway and then come back in to Long Pine and find the trail by the park on the main road, about 2.5 miles.

The online trail map shows the closed sections in red where impassable flood damages exist.

I recommend when riding the trail to use a gravel or mountain bike if possible. Something with a 40c+ tire width is best to help with the softer sections of the trail.

Charles from Fort Collins on 05/17/2021 05:03 PM
Seems like there is another trail closure according to the map, right outside of Valentine past the Niobrara bridge. Seems like a shame to miss the cool bridge view, so I might just ride over it and backtrack if needed along highway 20/83/Blue Star Memorial Highway.

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Park vehicle in norfolk ride to valentine and return where to leave vehicle
To Late from Kansas City on 05/12/2021 11:59 PM
2021 plan end to end and return -- Norfork to valentine--
Where is safe place to leave vehicle. This would be a--
My guess 8 or 10 day trip. Self supported, camping

Ray (webmaster) on 05/13/2021 07:39 PM
When my son and I did a multi-day trip about 5 years ago, we left our car at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park, where the trail starts in Norfolk. Just call the park office in advance and let them know. Of course car break-ins can happen any time and anywhere, but this felt like a safe place when we used it.

Another option - if you are spending a night in Norfolk at the start or end of your trip - many hotels would let you leave your car if you are spending money at their establishment. I don't know about specific ones in Norfolk, but you could call and ask a bunch of places if it seems like a good option to you.

Good luck, hope you have a great trip!

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Elms Motel in O'Neill
Anonymous on 05/12/2021 10:44 PM
Nice clean rooms. Friendly staff will be staying again. Best price in town

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Tagged: Elms Motel

Elms Motel in O'Neill
Anonymous on 05/12/2021 10:44 PM
Nice clean rooms. Friendly staff will be staying again. Best price in town

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Tagged: Elms Motel

Just Curious
Sammich from Loveland, CO/ Kearney,Ne on 05/03/2021 05:03 PM
Does anyone know of someone who has walked the entire trail yet? I am planning on walking from Norfolk to Valentine and back starting next week. Just curious.

JL on 05/03/2021 06:21 PM
Yes—if you google it some newspaper articles about it come up.

Bigtone from Coleridge on 05/06/2021 09:13 PM
Are you documenting your trip?

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Closest Amtrak station?
Angie from Vancouver WA on 05/01/2021 11:54 AM
Anyone know, what is closest Amtrak station?

Alex from Lincoln on 05/03/2021 08:35 AM
Lincoln, NE is about as close as you'd get to Norfolk, NE via Amtrak.

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Horse riding
Cris A Rodriguez from Nevada on 04/15/2021 05:43 PM
I am planning to ride from missouri to mt rushmore. Planning on using cowboy trail for part of trip. Any suggestions from folks who have ridden trail by horseback?

Marna from Belle Fourche on 04/15/2021 07:30 PM
Where are you starting from in MO?

Donna Rodriguez from Nevada, Mo on 05/01/2021 11:17 PM
Leaving from Nevada, Mo

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Getting on trail in Valentine
Nikki from Omaha, NE on 04/26/2021 11:29 AM
Planning our first trip to Valentine, planning on staying at the Econolodge and wanted to leave our car at the motel and jump on the trail somewhere nearby - hard to tell from Maps where would be the easiest place? Any recommendations?

Alex from Lincoln on 04/27/2021 08:17 AM
The trailhead in Valentine is right down the road from there. I would recommend starting there. Enjoy the trip!

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Cowboy trail in May:
Urban Trekker from Sparks Nv on 04/26/2021 06:02 PM
What are the average temps and wind direction mid May. Also are the shuttles between Valentine and Norfolk running.

Alex from Lincoln on 04/27/2021 08:15 AM
Mid 70's to mid 80's. But it can vary widely both directions day to day. Prevailing winds tend to hold up so West to East but it can certainly go both ways as well! Ha. Yes there is North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk. You will have to give Tony a call- (402) 316-0157

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Horse riding
Cris A Rodriguez from Nevada on 04/15/2021 05:43 PM
I am planning to ride from missouri to mt rushmore. Planning on using cowboy trail for part of trip. Any suggestions from folks who have ridden trail by horseback?

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Horse riding
Cris A Rodriguez from Nevada on 04/15/2021 05:43 PM
I am planning to ride from missouri to mt rushmore. Planning on using cowboy trail for part of trip. Any suggestions from folks who have ridden trail by horseback?

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