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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
Good riding.

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Cleveland Bike and Sport in Norfolk
stevo from Saint Louis, MO on 03/13/2014 09:30 PM
I went to this bike shop in 2012 as I was riding on the Cowboy and broke some spokes. They said if I left it there it would be ready in 3 days...Yada...Yada...Yada...I ended up going to a bike shop in Lawrence, KS that fixed it the same day and spent the rest of my time riding the Prairie Spirit Trail instead of sitting in a hotel in Norfolk waiting for my bike to be fixed.

Aaron D. Yates from KCMO on 03/16/2014 01:04 AM
Who cares? Stop being a whining infant about something that happened nearly two years ago. This forum is for info, updates and conditions about the Cowboy Trail.

crow from lincoln on 03/22/2014 03:51 PM
Again, I agree with Aaron, we don't care about stevo's bike shop problems!
We need and want updates on trail conditions on the Cowboy Trail.

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zbicyclist from Chicago on 08/19/2013 05:21 PM
I've not ridden this trail, but I know from riding other trails (e.g. Great Allegheny Passage, C&O canal towpath) that the right tires can make a substantial difference in the experience. Does this trail require full mountain bike tires due to the soft gravel, or would a faster tire (e.g. 35mm Schwalbe Marathon) be better?

Crow on 09/13/2013 05:01 PM
Again, don't waste precious vacation time on this trail! There are so many well maintained trails to choose from. It doesn't matter what tires you use, you will end up riding the nearby roads.

Aaron D. Yates from KCMO on 03/16/2014 01:12 AM
Sounds like the State should be paving the trail instead of using this lame "crushed crap" on the trail. Half of the trail isn't completed, and the part that is, no one can ride on. I had such high hopes for this trail years back. Why won't the State of Nebraska do something?! They are really missing the boat on this Cowboy Trail. Sad.

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Information-Gathering on the Cowboy Trail 2013
Matt Steger from Lincoln, NE on 04/17/2013 08:37 PM
I'm not sure if anyone is interested in joining me ...

I'd like to ride from Valentine to Norfolk this summer in order to assess the trail's current conditions. This would simply be an simply information-gathering.trip. The bigger and long-term goals should be obvious.

I would really like additional help and input with this "project" and welcome anyone to join me. My bicycle-touring skills are advanced.

Matt Steger from Lincoln on 04/17/2013 08:39 PM
Sorry about the typos in my post!

chris from St. Louis on 04/18/2013 12:17 PM

Depending on when you plan to go, I may be able to go with you. I really can't make it in June, but if you plan to go let me know when. I have done the Katy Trail six times and the Allegheny/C&O from Pittsburgh to DC once.

schreck on 11/19/2013 12:26 PM
I would be interested

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How is the trail now? Any improvements for 2014?
Patrick L from Independence, MO on 05/29/2013 06:24 PM
A group of us are considering the Cowboy Trail for a trip in May of 2014. All of the comments I am seeing are making me question our choice. Has the trail improved over the last year or so? Is there any work being done to improve it? Where would I find a good resource for information, either in Norfolk or Valentine? Thanks in advance for any help.

Ray on 05/30/2013 06:31 AM
Your best bet for info is probably the bike shop in Norfolk. Click Norfolk in the map above and you'll see it in the list of businesses.

Rails to Trails on 06/07/2013 11:03 PM
Why spend you time and money where the state and local support is not there ? KATY, GAP/C&O/Erie Canal, ... There are great trails out there. Don't waste your time in Nebraska.

Crow from Lincoln, NE on 08/25/2013 03:06 PM
There are so many wonderful Rails to Trails in SD, Iowa, NE, Kansas and MO. Why waste time and money on the Cowboy Trail, it is not a good trail to bike on. I would not choose the Cowboy Trail for my vacation ride!

gene from Indiana on 08/30/2013 11:16 PM
You can ride it but you'll possibly spend more time on parallel US 20 and US 275. Better get Kevlar tires because of the goathead sandbur. That sandbur is absolutely wicked.

Fl Carrell from Council Bluffs on 10/01/2013 05:56 PM
Wondering if a bunch of strangers could meet up on the cowboy trail in April and kind of start our own mini RAGBAI all the little towns along the way be the support needed. Frank

schreck from hastings,ne on 11/19/2013 12:24 PM
I would be interested in riding the trail in April

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State of trail
Simon Duke from Honthem, Netherlands on 07/28/2013 09:41 PM
The trail running east from valentine crosses the beautiful trestle bridge but soon deteriorates. More specifically, the section eat of Thatcher until almost Arabia was in bad shape. For almost five miles the trail is severely washboarded by agricultural vehicles. Even sections marked 'no motorized vehicles' shows clear signs of ATV and pickup use. In many cases the tire tracks lead into fields, suggesting local rancher traffic is making extensive use of the trail. The surface of the trail can also be challenging since the fine gravel is not compacted and can cause sliding where it has accumulated. I was disappointed after being converted to exploring this part of the world after cycling the marvelous Mickelson trail in SD twice.

crow from Lincoln, NE on 08/25/2013 03:03 PM
I agree, don't bother with the Cowboy Trail. I stick to the Mickelson Trail in SD, The Wabash Trace Trail in Iowa, the Homestead and the Mopac in NE. My favorite is the Paul Bunyan Trail in MN. It is over 100 miles long and paved!

Gene from Indiana on 08/30/2013 11:05 PM
Last year I rode from Bassett to Battle Creek in late September. I spent more miles on US 20 and US 275 than I did the trail. Some of it was closed and other places they were working on it. Several times I had to get off because of new gravel. Good people to meet there though.

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May 2013 Trail Update
Andrew Scheman from Chicago on 05/19/2013 06:15 PM
May 2012

Nebraska spent a fortune building the longest off-road bike trail in the country. However, it is currently unridable since the gravel is not compacted and it is like riding on sand most of the way. Also, the pink quartzite they have added to certain stretches is a much poorer riding surface than the white limestone on other stretches. It would take a very small additional investment to pay someone to steamroll the trail once a year and it would then be a jewel. It is my hope that this will happen and then be followed by positive comments from riders. If so, it will attract riders and much needed income to the wonderful communities along the route. On our trip, we did not pass one other biker over the 180 mile stretch we were on.

1) Unbelievably friendly and charming communities
2) Beautiful wide open countryside
3) Flat terrain for riding
4) Wonderful steaks (try Golden Steer in Ainsworth and L&B in Clearwater)
5) Wonderful breakfasts (try West End in O’Neill)
1) Pine Valley Resort cabins; outstanding
2) Stuart Village Inn (Stuart), Historic Golden Hotel (O’Neill), West Hill View Motel (Neligh), New Victorian (Norfolk); all clean and comfortable
Thorns and Bike Repair;
1) The western parts of the trail have goat thorns which easily puncture tires. We had no problem using Continental Punctureproof tires and Sunlite Puncture Resistant tubes.
2) We had a broken derailer hanger and found that the only top bicycle shop on the trail is Cleveland Bike and Sport, 407 E. Norfolk Ave, Norfolk. However, this shop was AMAZING and saved our trip. We had a car at each end of each day’s trip and shuttled the cars with us as we proceeded or we would have been in trouble (i.e. we were able to drive to Norfolk for our repair)

Crow from Lincoln, NE on 08/25/2013 03:11 PM
I agree with this comment. The trail communities and the surrounding area have so much to offer and the puzzle is no one seems to care and the trail continues to be useless. Who wants to ride in these conditions, when there are so many other wonderful trails to choose from. Not me.

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Mark from Leavenworth Kansas on 07/25/2013 06:11 PM
Rode the trail east 10 miles out and back from valentine, on road bike , trail was great! Wish I could go more but got dark on me.

Mark from Leavenworth Kansas on 07/25/2013 06:23 PM
Don't forget that valentine has the best river in Nebraska for canoe, kayak, and floating. several outfitters in town for shuttles and rentals. The bridge over the Niobrara is awesome!

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Tagged: Valentine

Cowboy Trail
Chris from Springfield, IL on 05/04/2013 10:19 AM
I have biked several trails in the US. Five of us will be biking from Crazy Horse, SD on the Mickelson Trail south to Edgemont, (South end of traill) and then on to the Cowboy Trail starting in Chadron, NE to the end at Nolfolk, NE. After reading all the reports of the Cowboy, do any of you suggest that we stay on the highway? Chris

Jim from Indianapolis on 07/15/2013 02:17 PM
The trail is fine. I rode 60 miles of it last September. The surface is hard enough; I disagree with those who say it is too soft. It is a wonderful ride. You're missing out if you don't take it. I'm going back this fall.

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Recent use
Anonymous on 07/02/2013 04:30 PM
Has anyone been on this bike trail recently. I'm thinking of doing a bike ride in memory of my grandson.

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Cowboy Trail - Valentine and Beyond
Kelly Sleeper from St Louis, Mo on 05/08/2013 10:04 AM
We have a group of about 10 folks heading that way the first of June.
As an out an back it looked fun and interesting and affordable. I see the incomplete section from Valentine to Chadron and was wondering if it is rideable even if not built up yet. We all ride larger tires 700x40's being the smallest of the group so single track and such is doable so long as we aren't walking for miles ... any knowledge of those areas as we could shuttle out and ride the entire 300 plus miles that way instead of an out and back.



Michele from Omaha on 06/01/2013 02:18 PM
You are probably already on your trip. I know it's in the 30's in Chadron today, so good luck. I do not believe you can bike from Valentine to Chadron, even without the trail build-up. We rode last year around the Norfolk area heading west and the trail was terrible. There were also bridges out from flooding a few years back and with the state's financial situation, I doubt they will be replaced.

Rails to Trails on 06/07/2013 11:01 PM
From the state park website, the funding for the flood repairs was coming from federal resources.

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Cross country need sggestion
Light Chang from Taiwan on 06/07/2013 10:12 PM
Hi, I am cross country by bicycle now, and here I am in Des Morines now, predict will arrive Norfolk about a week, I would like to consider thhe trail to lead to to Rapid city, my bike is road bike with 700X25C tire, is it possible to ride to Rapid city by the trail?

welcome to my blog:

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Allen’s Pizza Place in Bassett
Tanya Sybrant Cole from Bassett, NE on 05/28/2013 11:25 AM
Best darn food in the country. You will never leave hungry!

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David Clancy from Washington on 03/11/2013 07:12 PM
My father and I are interested in doing the entire trail this June. How much of the Cowboy Trail has been finished? If I were to arrive in Omaha what would be the easiest way to get to trail. How could we get back to Omaha from the finish line? Thank you for the support?

Bike with a Passion on 03/26/2013 06:19 PM
There are much better trails, that are supported by the State and local communities. Trails that are maintained and unauthorized vehicles kept off. The KATY in Missouri is fantastic. The GAP/C&O Canal is another one. The Mickelson trail in South Dakota. Don't waste your valuable time and money that are adverse to the cycling community.

Crow from Lincoln, NE on 05/01/2013 05:28 AM
I agree with the reply. I would not waste the money or time on the Cowboy Trail The Katy Trail in MO, the Mickelson Trail in SD are so awesome and well maintained.

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Conditions on the cowboy trail this year
Linda from Chicago on 04/10/2013 12:05 PM
We are planning to ride the full length of the Cowboy Trail in May. Has anyone been riding on it yet this year? If so, what are the conditions? Are there still parts of the trail that are closed? Appreciate any information you can give us.

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Carriage House Motel in O'Neill
Lorenzo from Calistoga on 03/11/2013 10:41 AM
The friendliest place in town. Both receptionists were helpfull and considerate. I was made to feel very comfortable. You must stop here for your night.Great restaurant around the corner.

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Trail musings
Crow from Lincoln, Ne on 11/21/2012 11:35 AM
I am wondering if the less than stellar conditions on the Cowboy Trail are accidental or a plan to eventually discontinue this trail? I know the ranchers and farmers in the area use the trail as a farm road for animals and equipment and would probably cheer if the trail was abandoned. If people like me don't ride the trail because of the poor condition of the trail, does that give everyone involved reasons to stop funds for the trail? It seems a mystery to me that those responsible for this trail don't see the economic advantages to surrounding communities. Just look at the success of the Katy, the Mickelson and the Wabash Trace trails. Just wondering. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Anonymous on 12/11/2012 07:15 PM
What sections are really bad? I was thinking about trying to ride the whole trail as an out and back this summer starting in Norfolk.

Crow on 12/16/2012 02:37 PM
Hi Anonymous, Perhaps the question might be what trail sections are good? As you can read, others attempting to ride this trail usually end up riding the roads instead of the trail. The trail is paved from Norfolk for a few miles and that is nice but other than that it is not too good. I haven't been back to the trail since the Spring 2012, so maybe there have been improvements. I had a goal of cycling the entire trail but now will focus on the other Rails to Trails. Good luck and let others know of your experiences on the trail next summer.

DD from Colorado on 01/15/2013 10:32 PM
Same. I was planning to do the trail end-to-end last summer, but it doesn't seem that the trail has the support. I'm not looking for a paved trail, but do not want to trip where I'm not wanted. Did the GAP-C&O Canal ride - what an experience! And the people I met were great. Looking at the Erie Canal trail this year. Everyone, there are many other trails to go on.

Russ from Indiana on 01/17/2013 11:09 PM
It is a good trail but I rode on and off US 20 and Us 275 for better speed. The state was working on the trail near O'Neill with that red gravel. It is flat but you better have kevlar tires. I had Bontrager Hard Case tires on my bike but got a flat on my Burley Bugger from the Texas Sandburr--even with kevlar tires on it. There's good people there and good camping. You might want to ride a short distance

Dave Kohrell from Lincoln on 03/03/2013 01:23 PM
Working on blog article while my son wraps up a slide deck from our June 2012 adventure. A group of 14, 11 on bike completed the whole trail in June for Boyscout Troop 7.
The trail was very rough from Valentine to Ainsworth - we changed about 12 flats that day - many on the same bikes. There were only 2 bikes that made it w/out a flat over our 4 and 1/2 days.
The communities and ranchers were very accomodating. We camped over night at Ainsworth, Atkinson, Ewing and Battle Creek. It was an outstanding experience. In our group were five boys ages 11-12 - they held up well. A couple got some sag wagon support on Day 2-4.
My son and I are planning a repeat next summer - this time w/ Kevlar, Double Tubed, Guard tires. While choppy, Valentine to Ainsworth can be done. Plus you won't need chiropractic care for awhile! ;-)

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Neligh Fred Penn Park
Anonymous on 01/28/2013 11:43 PM
The Neligh website also indicates primitive camping is available at Fred Penn Park.

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Tagged: Neligh

trail conditions
Toecutter from Norfolk on 08/27/2012 05:59 PM
The thorns are really bad on the trail right now. It has limited my riding of late. Does anybody know what sections of the trail are concrete other than Norfolk?

russ from Indiana on 11/17/2012 06:17 PM
O'Neill has a segment in town that is concrete or asphalt and probably about 1/4 mile. Other than than that, it's crushed limestone. Good luck.

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Richard Welch from Shawnee, OK on 10/08/2012 08:19 AM
If I wanted to bike the entire length of the trail, is there a return shuttle, or bus connections?

Jimmy K from St Charles, MO on 11/13/2012 08:55 PM
I would like this info as well.

Russ from Indiana on 11/16/2012 12:24 AM
Not that I know of. I was lucky that I got someone to take me from Battle Creek to Bassett. Unlike the Katy, this trail parallels US 20 and US 275. Most of the time it is less than 100 yards. The Texas sandburr is really wicked so get kevlar tires. Check with the bicycle shop in Norfolk.

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Best Places to Stay and/or Eat
Jimmy K from St Charles, MO on 11/13/2012 08:53 PM
I am a Missourian, and I was fortunate enough to ride the entire Katy Trail RTT this year. Now I want to do other RTTs! I am wondering how good the camping, lodging, dining, and night life is along the trail. On the Katy, we were able to find some great B&Bs, restaurants, and even a few pubs that were very fun.

Russ from Indiana on 11/16/2012 12:13 AM
Rode from Bassett to Battle Creek in late September. 20 to 28 miles per day pulling a burley trailer. Best place I camped was the city parks in Stuart, Neligh and Battle Creek. O'Neill has shut the hot water off at Carney Park. Each small town has some place to eat and drink. Carry snack packs with you for mornings. Get Kevlar tires because of the Texas "goathead" sandbur. Wicked. I bought Bontrager Hard Case for the trip. Ride this trail next year because they're working on some segments. US 20 and Us 275 parallel the trail so I rode that most of the time. For info, call the bicycle shop in Norfolk

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Wood Lake Campground in Wood Lake
Bob Clark from Bellevue, NE on 10/21/2012 09:07 PM
Great stopping place! Has electricity, water and shelters. There are bathrooms open seasonally. They were locked Oct 18th for winter. Be sure to sign the guestbook!

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