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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Cowboy Trail.
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Biker4 from PAPILLION, NEBRASKA on 1/8/2019 5:39:22 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 2/12/2019 9:57:55 AM
maintaining = boom and more business is simply speculation. Many sections of the trail aren't even paved.

Biker4 from PAPILLION, NEBRASKA on 2/12/2019 11:33:55 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 2/13/2019 8:13:06 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.

Trail west of Kilgore? from Central City on 2/11/2019 8:17:47 PM
I'm looking to hit up the Cowboy Trail this coming summer. Is there any trail west of Kilgore developed yet? Or does it end there?

Alex from Lincoln on 2/12/2019 8:39:48 AM
The surfaced trail ends at Valentine. But 2-3 years from now there will be surfacing completed from Gordon to Mile Marker 400 just outside Chadron. If you had a fat bike you could probably ride west of Valentine on the unfinished trail but it is very rough and has high weed growth in some sections.

Cowboy Trail groups win major grant

Ray (webmaster) on 2/11/2019 11:27:38 AM
WASHINGTON—Today, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) announced a $65,000 grant to be shared between two non-profit organizations—Cowboy Trail West and Northwest Nebraska Trails Association (NNTA)—working to move the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail (Cowboy Trail) closer to completion.

The trail, totaling 321 miles when complete, is one of the longest rail-trail conversions in the nation, spanning much of the state of Nebraska. RTC’s grant provides critical matching funds necessary for the two organizations to secure $700,000 in Recreational Trails Program funds offered by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission—funding that is necessary to advance the trail’s development.
Full article:
Source: McCook Gazette, Feb 8 2019

Don from Kansas on 2/11/2019 1:26:42 PM
I hope the towns and landowners along the trail will welcome the increased usage of the trail and increasing commerce as well. We aren't all city slickers with expensive bikes and time to waste. With that said bikers and hikers need to respect their state hosts and trails.

Damage on the trail

Alex from Lincoln on 2/4/2019 8:38:24 AM
Hi Folks,

Just FYI there is some damage to the trail West of Johnston where someone drove their cattle down the wet trail leaving many hoof-prints in it. The length of trail damaged is about 2 miles. Here is the approximate location:

I'd recommend avoiding this section and riding on the highway for a bit, unless you're up for a bumpy ride :)

I'll post an update once I can get it cleaned up.

Bike Ride Across Nebraska

Ray (webmaster) on 1/26/2019 11:58:39 AM
"Hundreds of bikers from across the state will peddle—across the state—into Fremont on the final day of the 39th annual Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska (BRAN) this June.
The theme of this year’s BRAN is “A Tale of Two Trails” which will provide participants the option to ride on the Cowboy Trail as well as on paved highway shoulders through the scenic sandhills of northern Nebraska.

Source: Fremont Tribune

Link to full article:


Greg from Michigan on 10/23/2018 7:05:08 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 1/9/2019 9:44:45 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 1/21/2019 1:33:26 PM
North Fork Outfitters in Norfolk, NE has a shuttle service available. Information available at their website:

East City Park in Ainsworth

Saddle Sore from Kittredge, CO on 1/5/2019 9:11:37 AM
Any information regarding open season, fees, reservations needed, amenities would be helpful.

Alex from Lincoln on 1/14/2019 9:45:09 AM
Greetings! The trail is technically open year round from Valentine to Norfolk. There is no snow removal on it so if you plan on riding in the winter prepare for that. There is no user fee for the trail and most towns have a campsite you can stay at for free or small fee. There are lodging options as well along the trail depending on the towns you choose to overnight in. Food and water is available in most of the towns as well. When are you thinking about riding?

Summer Riding with kods

Maria andersson from Stockholm sweden on 11/19/2018 1:34:22 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 2:41:36 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 1/6/2019 9:04:13 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.

Road vs Mt

Tommyt from Spokane on 1/4/2019 3:51:25 PM
Is the trail suitable for pure road bike or better with a cross-over or Mt bike...what is the surface like....thanks!

Dougt from Onawa, Ia on 1/4/2019 8:52:31 PM
Well, you can do anything if you're motivated enough, but I'd say that it would be pretty tough on the western portion of the trail. It gets rougher from O'Neill west, gravel is thicker, tracks from ATV's make it rough and vegetation on the trail. I'm a road biker but would recommend a gravel or mtn bike for this. I rode from Norfolk/Valentine and back last Sept and posted a review in Oct. You might find some helpful information if you read it.

Walking the Cowboy Trail

Anonymous on 12/31/2018 7:22:17 PM
I would like to know how many folks have walked the entire trail and what services are available along the trail. Can a person camp along the trail? How many miles is it between services such as camping, water and food? What about personal safety along the trail. Have there been any incidents, and if so, what kind? Do bikers use bells to alert walkers when they come up behind?

Don from Kansas on 12/31/2018 8:02:10 PM
I too have been considering the Cowboy trail - Hikiby also, following for interested providers/users.

J.L. from Lincoln on 12/31/2018 9:04:06 PM
I posted about my partial walk on 5/31/18. I am a female and walked alone. Never felt any threat or danger. However, I never camped and ended up staying at motels and the bunkhouse. If my feet could have continued I would of had to start camping due to cost and some towns don’t have the hotel option. I would advise calling ahead to make sure restaurants and services are available before going. In the time I was on the trail I never encountered another walker and only two bikers who I saw coming from a long way out.

Alex from Lincoln on 1/2/2019 1:41:42 PM
Greetings! Thanks for your questions.

Can a person camp along the trail? Camping is not allowed on the trail right of way. Most of the towns are 8-10 miles a part and offer places to camp in their city parks usually for free or sometimes for a small campsite fee.

How many miles is it between services such as camping, water and food? Most of the towns have all these services. Some of the smaller ones don't have grocery stores though. I have been able to find access to water in every town along the trail. Most restaurants or bars are happy to refill water bottles for you. Google maps is your friend!

Have there been any incidents, and if so, what kind? Do bikers use bells to alert walkers when they come up behind?

None that I've heard about. Every person I've met when riding the trail has been wonderful. This is one of my favorite things about the trail and as JL said - you won't come across other users very often :)

Hope you make the trip!


Greg from Bellevue Ne on 12/29/2018 8:33:54 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 8:34:02 AM
When do you plan on riding and how many in your group?

Greg from Bellevue on 12/30/2018 10:08:25 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.

Multi-night Parking in Valentine?

Kevin R from Twin Cities on 9/27/2018 5:20:36 PM
I've scrolled through many pages of the comment forum here but haven't seen anyone (yet) post anything regarding parking options for multiple nights in Valentine. Anyone out there have suggestions?

Alex from Lincoln on 10/4/2018 8:39:04 AM
Greetings! I have always parked at the city park on the North side of Valentine. It's a great place to camp as well if you are arriving the night before and leaving the next morning. Just a $5 camp site fee and plenty to choose from near a nice creek and a short trail system.

Joel S. from Springfield, MO on 12/13/2018 3:17:49 AM
I agree, the city park was a great place to rest when I rode the trail in October 2017.

Cynthya from Salina on 12/13/2018 9:30:45 AM
We also overnighted in Valentine City Park when we rode The Cowboy Trail in August of 2017. It had bathrooms, which I believe, include showers. Nice, quite place, with plenty of parking the time we were there. If you ride to the Trail Head from there, you will have a steep hill to climb out. The Trail head park would be nice, but I don't know if it is overnight? Would not be a quiet as City Park.

North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk

Dale Coon from GLENDALE HEIGHTS on 12/3/2018 12:52:30 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?

Website updates

Ray (webmaster) on 11/6/2018 9:53:00 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 11/7/2018 9:54:03 AM
Great updates Ray!

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