Hiking/walking whole Cowboy Trail -
Bee from Chadron, NE on 02/11/2015 08:50 PM
Really wanting to hike this whole thing. I think I can make pretty good pace. I know this is mainly biking on here and seems like most of the use is biking. Has anyone ever done the whole cowboy trail from Norfolk to Chadron? I've done research and read the user guide book on the trail but all the info only extends to Valentine. I know west is not finished yet and it sounds like it is unrideable but I am walking so I want to attempt it. Anyways any feedback would be nice. I really want to walk this whole 321 miles.
Ryan from Scottsbluff on 06/13/2015 08:34 PM
I want to hike it also.....have you gotten any more information?
steve k from saint louis, mo on 06/18/2015 01:31 PM
I traveled out to Casper, WY the last couple of weeks via U.S. 20 that goes through Chadron and Valentine and while there are sections that are complete it would be a tough hike between Chadron & Valentine. In addition, I seen other locals riding whats become of the trail on ATV's, and they may think you are a trespasser. In some towns, their were incomplete sections, which may be the result of the state no longer having proper easements so that is another problem. I did some biking between Valentine and Norfolk and found the trail to be in good shape. I would not be hesitant to try the completed trail between Valentine & Norfolk just be prepared to deal with the elements.
Ray from Philly on 07/29/2015 01:38 PM
I hiked from Norfolk to Merriman along the wonderful Cowboy Trail (and beyond it) and then shot north through Martin, SD (free camping in city park) to Pine Ridge and the Black Hills. It was a great hike, summer of 2009 if I recall, August maybe? Go walk it, you will love it!
Anonymous on 09/10/2015 12:35 PM
The 15 mile segment between Gordon and Rushville is almost complete. The trail has 2 miles of limestone and the rest is packed and sprayed for weeds. We should have all limestone completed by the end of next summer. Come hike. :)
Geri from Long Beach on 02/08/2016 08:12 AM
How long did it take you to hike Norfolk to Valentine, (or beyond?)? This fall I am planning this as my first thru-hike, and hope to photojournal it, so plan to take a leisurely pace. What kind of wildlife did you run into? (Any rattlesnakes?!)
Samsus from Long Pine on 02/11/2016 01:52 PM
FYI, there ARE rattle snakes in areas. I frequently (multiple times a week) walk over the bridge in Long Pine. The west side had a baby rattlesnake on the trail about 20 feet from the end of the bridge. I'd say the chances of running into one are rare. Also, lots of coyote scat (in case you happen to plan on camping on the trail).
Carriage House Motel in O'Neill -
Heather on 11/15/2015 06:23 PM
As of Oct 8th 2015 the Carriage House is under new ownership. Rooms are slowly getting remodeled. But we hope you come and visit us so you all can see for yourself.
Maynard from Oklahoma City on 10/25/2015 08:10 PM
When passing Johnstown stop by the L Bow room saloon!
The owner Ruth is very nice and she has a full kitchen and bar if you need to calorie up.
steve k from saint louis, mo on 09/30/2015 01:42 PM
How did your trip go? I think that an annual tour would be a good ideal. In Missouri, DNR does one for the Katy Trail and there is another one is South Dakota(done by the parks dept.) for the Mickleson Trail. I am familiar with the DNR Katy Trail and that one is 5 days/4 nights on a 220 mile trek of the Katy Trail. They charge around $350/person and that includes breakfast and dinner, camping, and bag shuttle. If you want to stay in a hotel, that is extra. They usally post details of their June trip in March of each year.
Anonymous on 09/30/2015 01:46 PM
Please ignore this comment. I intended to reply to a another post.
cycling Cowboy Trail Norfolk to Valentine and back -
Clan McMurry from Columbia, Missouri on 09/13/2015 09:36 AM
We just spent 9 days and 8 nights riding from Norfolk to Valentine and back. The towns provided parks with excellent camping and water and most have grocery stores. The trail surface is mostly good with some very nice and some quite rough sections. 2 flats due to puncture vine ( 2 Continental tires 2 flats, 4 Schwalbe tires 0 flats ). Just west of Ainsworth the trail is covered with puncture vine. We saw 3 enthusiastic and friendly cyclists. All of the folks we met were very pleasant and encouraging. Thanks Nebraska !
Alex Duryea from Lincoln on 09/18/2015 01:58 PM
Awesome! I'm glad you enjoyed your trip and appreciate you coming all the way from Missouri to ride the Cowboy trail. I will be heading out to do Norfolk - Valentine next Friday so thanks for the tip about the puncture vine past Ainsworth!
DM from Columbia, Missouri on 09/23/2015 11:53 AM
Alex, We stopped in Newport and couldn't find a store or restaurant. There was a soda machine that worked-75 cents and it doesn't take dollars. There are good stores and places to eat in Bassett. Hope you all have as much fun as we did! Also hopes this encourages more use of such a great trail!
DM from Columbia, Missouri on 09/15/2015 11:35 AM
Jo's market...A good little store; delicious cold milk! Friendly folks! Very close to the trail.
Cowboy Trail -
R-Ryder from Norfolk on 08/20/2015 02:25 PM
I've ridden the cowboy trail from Norfolk to Battle Creeks several times. Very flat and the pea gravel type of surface is decent. I plan to travel the C'boy trail from O'Neill to Atchison on Saturday (8/22). Anyone know about the surface conditions of the Cowboy Trail between those two communities?
Hiking the trail -
Azza from Chamberlain, South Dakota on 05/12/2015 07:47 PM
I'm considering this as a hike for summer '15. Anyone hike it or have suggestions? Can you camp anywhere along the trail? How's the water supply?
CDworak from Omaha on 06/04/2015 11:49 PM
I was thinking the same thing. Is it safe to do it alone? Kind of a NE "way of St. James"? Thanks!
Brian from Gretna on 06/05/2015 01:57 PM
I'm heading up there in July to through ride. If I go before you I'll send back a report on the state of camping and other amenities.
Ryan from Scottsbluff on 06/13/2015 08:36 PM
Look forward to your report Brian.
steve k from saint louis, MO on 06/18/2015 04:07 PM
Like most rail trails, I don't think you can camp anywhere along the trail. You have to make it to a designated campground. I camped at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park(Norfolk) 1 night($12) and Valentine City Park 2 nights($5/night) recently. Ta-Ha-Zouka Park is right on the trail while Valentine City Park is 1-2 miles, but it is easy to bike to.
Ray from Philly on 07/29/2015 01:28 PM
I have hiked the entire trail from Norfolk to Valentine and continued on all the way to Merriman/Martin and on to the Black Hills. It is a wonderful trail to hike with plenty of options for camping. You can go days without seeing another person while on the trail. In almost every town along the trail you can camp in the city parks for donation/free/small fee based on which city you are in. There are lots of wonderful things to see and people to meet along the hike. I would suggest starting in Norfolk at the city park (Tah ha Zouka?) and heading west. If you feel like camping for the night and are not near a city park, no worries, very few people use the trail once you get a mile or 2 away from each town. Find a nice little nook to the side of the trail, set up your tent, leave no trace and go to sleep. This trail is a great hike for anyone, but perfect for an still learning hiker. Also in almost each of the city parks along the trail, there are free hot showers with your camping stay. Hike it!
Anonymous on 08/08/2015 08:28 AM
Have any of you on this comment thread been to the cowboy trail yet to either hike or cycle?
cycling Cowboy Trail Norfolk to Valentine -
DM from Columbia, Missouri on 07/20/2015 09:41 AM
We plan to bicycle the Cowboy Trail in September, 2015. I am looking for information regarding current trail conditions. Any comments will be helpful. Thanks!
Anonymous on 07/20/2015 01:18 PM
I'm riding it now in July 2015. The bridge 40 miles out of Norfolk is still closed so you'll have to use the hwy for a stretch. The trail itself is pretty lose and slow going. Definitely rideable but not as nice as other RTs such as the Katy in MO. Its a bit overgrown in places. I don't think many people really use it. I'm about 35 miles from Valentine at the moment and have seen nobody since leaving Norfolk.
Anonymous on 07/20/2015 02:33 PM
Thank you for the update. We are very spoiled as we live near the Katy and ride it often. Sounds like the Cowboy Trail will be a great adventure! Have you camped along the trail at all? We are hoping to go out and back and camp along the way.
Ray on 07/21/2015 09:02 AM
Camping: last summer my son and I camped at the city park in Neligh, and we were happy with it. We even had entertainment - a baseball game in the adjacent field. Nice little town.
Kim from South Dakota on 07/22/2015 10:53 AM
We rode the trail last week-end. Its very nicely surfaced from Norfolk to Meadow Grove with new pea sized gravel.It appears to be an older gravel surface after Meadow Grove but we didn't travel too far outside of that town to know. Water is available in towns only via local C-stores/small pubs. Saw no other bikers from Battle Creek to Meadow Grove. Cell phone worked. Needed bike repairs and went to Clevelands Bike Shop in Norfolk and got all fixed up! The convenience store on the main highway in Meadow Grove had a variety of home baked pastries which looked delicious!
jedwards from Topeka, KS on 07/28/2015 05:50 PM
Rode the trail last week (July 20 to 24) but went from Valentine to Norfolk. Trail conditions were good to very good on all except a 6 to 7 mile segment about 5 miles outside of Valentine. Surface was OK, just a lot of vegetation growth on the trail ... some of it tall. Our group of 4 had no flats over the entire 197 mile trip. There were plenty of places to fill bottles and get snack items mid-day, all except Wood Lake which has nothing if you plan on going through there on a Monday. Overall, great fun, great hospitality along the way and no problems with the surface except as mentioned above.
DM from Columbia, Mo on 08/03/2015 10:56 AM
jedwards, What type of bicycles did you use on your ride from Valentine to Norfolk?
Norfolk to Battle Creek to Meadow Grove -
Retired Tarzan from Norfolk, NE on 10/21/2014 09:33 PM
Have ridden from Norfolk to Battle Creek 3 times--you can start at S. 1st St. and it's 11 miles to Battle Creek. Visit Goodies or Longhorn Bar for a great lunch or supper! And for an interesting store, be sure to stop into the Red Bud Hardware Store. Longhorn Bar and hardware store are on Main St. Goodies is just a bit south of Main.
Today I biked from Meadow Grove back to Battle Creek. A great, flat, fall ride. Saw a hawk & scared up a pheasant.
Surface is cement from 1st St. in Norfolk to a mile or so beyond Ta-Ha-Zouka Park. Then it's crushed limestone that makes for a nice, hard-surface path.
Hope to keep going west town by town this fall.
DM from Columbia, Mo on 07/22/2015 09:23 AM
That is helpful. have you continued west? Any information would be appreciated!
Segment Rides May 2015 -
MJ from Denver on 05/27/2015 09:39 PM
Our plan was to ride from Valentine to O'Neil with overnight stops along the way. Cold weather and rain kept us from doing the trail as planned, so we did day trips instead. Rode Valentine east for 10 miles and then back to Valentine (20 mph head wind on way back to Valentine). Trail was very nice - crushed limestone that was packed down well. Rode another segment of the trail Bassett to Long Pine. Had lunch in Long Pine, then back to Bassett. The trail for this portion was not as nice as the Valentine portion but very do-able. The trail was gravel, a bit thick and loose in many places. We do want to go back and do the trail, but learned that we should only plan on about 25 miles max a day. We are used to riding cement trails - switching to gravel trails was more of a workout than what we thought. An overnight stop in Bassett at the Bassett Lodge is worth a look into, great restaurant and lodge!
Norfolk to Battle Creek conditions -
Ryan from Wisner, NE on 06/27/2014 02:39 PM
I rode from Norfolk to Battle Creek a couple of weeks ago and conditions are perfect. Packed rock with slight loose on top. Better than a good gravel road in my opinion. I'm looking forward to riding farther on the next trip.
EV on 03/23/2015 10:58 AM
Hi Ryan! I am writing a magazine article on this trail - I'm looking for someone who has ridden the trail to do a quick email interview. If you'd be interested please email me at email@example.com
GH from South Dakota on 04/07/2015 03:35 PM
Ryan, thanks for the post. Planning on riding Norfolk to Meadow Grove next month. Rode the west end of trail last fall and it had a lot of washboard and loose gravel. Hoping for a better ride on the east end.
GH from South Dakota on 05/09/2015 07:18 PM
Rode from Norfolk to a mile west of Battle Creek and the conditions were great. Impending rain made me turn around 11 miles out from Norfolk. Averaged 12.5 MPH out and back. Rode May 1, 2015.
Wood Lake -
Moe from Cheyenne Wyoming on 04/21/2015 01:19 PM
Is there any horse stalls at the park. We need to stay 1 night on our way to Valentine?
Hiking in Aug-Sept -
Steven from Omaha on 03/31/2011 05:02 PM
I'll be hiking the Cowboy Trail as far west as it goes, on to Chadron then up to Bear Butte State Park above Sturgis this August/September. I've read in another post that water is available in every town, food or groceries too? I don't want to carry more that two extra days of food & water unless I need to.
Anonymous on 04/01/2011 12:02 AM
Never mind... I found the info on the site!
Rustle from Chadron on 02/11/2015 02:00 PM
So did you end up hiking the whole thing from Norfolk to Chadron? I am thinking of doing the same thing and yeah the stops seem like you can pack pretty light because of the many stops. Anyways just interested to see if you did it and how many days it took? Thinking I can do it in 25 days or less or so.
Cowboy Ken on 10/17/2014 05:31 PM
Coming down there to ride your trail tomorrow. I am going to dominate it! I hope there is beer along the way. And you have shoveled the sand off the path some.
ristan55 on 10/17/2014 09:20 PM
We keep the sand shoveled, and you will not beat my records. Free beer if you mention my name at George's
MM from Denver CO on 10/23/2014 01:26 PM
I think I passed by Cowboy Ken on the trail. He was taking a break by some hay bales on the side of the trail. Lots of washboard on the trail about 10 miles east of Valentine.
Meadow Grove to Tilden -
Retired Tarzan from Norfolk, NE on 10/22/2014 01:33 PM
This is a short one--5 miles, mostly adjacent to Hwy. 275. This is also where there is 1 bridge that is out, but it's probably only 30 - 40 yds. thru a mowed ditch to the highway, across the bridge, and back to the trail. Very easily navigated!
Sandhills Guest House, Atkinson -
Ray on 10/17/2014 10:28 PM
On a multi-day trail ride last July, I became very sick and had to end the trip. We made it as far as Atkinson and were lucky to get a room at the Sandhills Guest House. When the manager found out about my situation, she made phone calls and sent emails until she found someone to drive us back to our car in Norfolk (one of her relatives!). This kind act saved me a day's worth of time and a taxi ride that would have cost a couple hundred dollars. And besides all that, the motel is comfortable, clean, quiet, and reasonably priced. Can't say enough good things about the Sandhills Guest house.
Ainsworth to Long Pine -
Carol from Ainsworth on 09/29/2014 09:11 AM
Ainsworth to Long Pine is the best 10 miles of the Cowboy Trail because the trail is away from the highway. On my ride I saw horses, cattle, a garter snake, birds and a lonely coyote. The Sandhills start on the south and it is fun to ride the trestle over Pine Creek. It is a fun family ride.
Cowboy Ken on 10/17/2014 05:29 PM
Coming down there to ride your trail tomorrow. I will dominate! It looks like a fine ride.
Nancy Takes A Hike from Stockbridge MA on 04/23/2014 10:59 PM
There are LOTS of services in Ainsworth...It's a pretty big town with a city campground in the park, several restaurants and bars, shops, banks, an excellent supermarket, a Bomgaars and two national brand motels. There is even a place to get a latte.
Anonymous on 09/29/2014 09:07 AM
Goodrich ice cream is served at the Subway. Sellers cabin in the city park is worth a visit.
Sandhills Guest House in Atkinson -
Anonymous on 09/27/2014 09:52 PM
This place was wonderful. I asked if I could use the laundry facilities, and the manager insisted on doing all of my laundry for me, even after I warned her that it was filthy, stinky, sweaty trail clothing. Reasonable price, nice people, convenient location.
Subway in O'Neill -
Laurie Hacker from O'Neill on 03/14/2014 09:41 PM
My husband and I were at Subway (O'Neill) at 8:00 on 3-14-14. The young man who took our order and made our sandwiches was very rude. He was unintelligible when he spoke to us, and when I kindly asked him to repeat what he said, he became more rude. The change machine was not working. I understand that making change in this day of technology is difficult for some, however, the young man should NOT have responded to me in such a brusque manner. The bread for the sandwich was mangled and the meatballs were hard, dry and impossible to chew. My husband quietly took the sandwich back and explained the problem to the Devall girl. She was very, very nice and offered to make a different sandwich but my husband declined and asked for a couple of cookies instead. Another young man (blonde hair) brought coupons to our table, was apologetic and handled the situation politely.
The young man who initially waited on us went to the back of the store (or left) and we never saw him again. We've been patrons of the O'Neill Subway store since it's opening. We were very disappointed this evening and hope that you will speak to the young man about his poor behavior. We commend the way the Devall girl handled the situation and hope you will pass this compliment on to her. Thank you.
Aaron D. Yates from KCMO on 03/16/2014 01:01 AM
Why on Earth are you making complaints about the O'Neill Subway in a forum about the Cowboy Trail?! There's a customer satisfaction survey on every receipt from Subway. I suggest you go to that website and take the survey. It's about the only way you'll ever get through to anyone that cares enough to correct the behavior. This way, the store manager and owner will see your feedback.
Crow from lincoln on 03/22/2014 03:48 PM
I agree with Aaron, what the heck do we care about Subway and your problems? This forum is for info on the Cowboy Trail.
Anonymous on 09/08/2014 11:47 AM
What are you eating at subway for? There is a Mcdonalds in Oneill! lol.
NN from Columbus, NE on 05/15/2014 11:18 PM
Just wondering how the trail is from Battle Creek to Meadow Grove. I have a hybrid bike and am a fairly new biker so don't want to go the whole trip. I plan to stay in Battle Creek at the B&B, then take a day trip to Meadow Grove and back. Maybe would have enough tim to go on to Ashfall Fossil Beds the same day. Anyone out there who's done that?
crow on 05/20/2014 09:50 AM
I would be interested in your opinion of the trail from Battle Creek to Meadow Grove. When I biked it, it was just awful. Soft, rutted, full of thorns and used by farmers as a farm road for tractors and livestock. Not very scenic, mostly beside the paved roads. Maybe I am spoiled from biking super awesome trails, like the Homestead, Mopac, Steamboat all in NE and the Katy Trail in MO, plus the Wabash in Iowa.
Let us all know about your experiences.
Hildegard from Lincoln on 06/29/2014 01:47 AM
The B&B in Battle Creek has been sold, FYI. And Ashfall is quite a trip north from where the trail is.
Disappointing ride in O'Niell -
Anonymous on 05/28/2014 07:45 AM
I've not been more disappointed in a trail before. The trail is so sandy, that it's like trying to ride on a beach. In some places it's an inch thick. After 4 miles we ditched the trail and rode the rest of the day on paved country roads. Such a shame that this isn't ridable. It has such potential.
crow on 06/15/2014 10:04 AM
Yes, I agree, this is how I found the Cowboy Trail, horrible to ride on!
I did learn an interesting theory and not sure if correct, but I was told the trail was built to keep it open for a possible return to using it again for trains and the folks in charge of the trail are not the least bit concerned or interested in the trail construction (it was not build correctly!) or if anyone is able to bike on it. It is used by ranchers and farmers as a "farm road." The people up in the area are probably happy we can't ride the trail. :)
Thankfully there are so many other wonderful Rails to Trails in the midwest, that we have a huge choice of trails. This summer I am headed for the Mickelson Trail in SD,
Happy cycling and hiking this summer.
Hildegard from Lincoln on 06/29/2014 01:43 AM
There's a nice article from NebraskaLand Magazine about a complete ride on the whole trail. I recommend reading it.
Cowboy Trail conditions -
Crow on 06/21/2014 05:09 PM
I wanted to see first hand the Cowboy Trail from the Valentine area. I started at the trailhead in Valentine, early in the morning, June 17, 2014. The trailhead picnic shelter is nice and set in a gravel and dirt area. The trail heads east and is paved for a short distance and then is gravel and dirt. The trail surface was hard but covered with an inch or two of that red sand and is not pleasant to bike on. I only went out an hour and then turned around and headed back to Valentine. It was a workout to bike in the sand. The Valentine High Bridge is 1/4 mile long and was exciting to bike over. I didn't enjoy this end of the trail any more than I enjoyed the Norfolk end of the trail. It is like biking on a beach. I didn't go far on the trail as I was headed to Hot Springs, SD to bike the Mickelson Trail, which by the way is a beautiful trail in excellent condition.
Trail Status -
Bill Pendergraft from Beaufort, SC on 05/25/2014 05:08 AM
Our group just completed the GAP/C and O and are looking for the next trail to bike. What is the status of the Cowboy trail riding east? Thank you.
RR Biker from CO on 05/28/2014 07:23 PM
I'd do the KATY. Loved the GAP/C&O trip, KATY is next best. Planned to do the Cowboy Trail, but have not read anything positive, and the locals/state does not support the trail.
Bucket List -
Anonymous from Omaha on 03/16/2014 10:25 PM
3 of us are contemplating tackling the trail in late Aug or early Sept. How does it compare with the Wabash Trace in Iowa which we knocked out in one day? Is it really that deteriorated or are the people that have actually enjoyed it not giving positive feedback post ride?
Crow from lincoln on 03/22/2014 03:55 PM
The Wabash Trace Trail is so excellent, a wonderful trial to ride. I haven't had a good experience on the Cowboy Trail, but would love to hear if it has improved since I was on it. I thought the Cowboy Trail was pretty awful but maybe it has been worked on since then? Let us all know if you do ride it and tell us about the condition of the trail.