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Shuttle in Valentine?
 -  + We are planning to ride trail (west to east) end of August. hotels, not camping. We made arrangements with North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk to shuttle us on front end out to Wood Lake where we would ...
Discussion started 08/08/2023 12:25 PM by Tony - 1 reply (last reply by opedaler at 08/09/2023 12:39 PM)
Tony from Knoxville on 08/08/2023 12:25 PM
We are planning to ride trail (west to east) end of August. hotels, not camping. We made arrangements with North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk to shuttle us on front end out to Wood Lake where we would ride wrong way the first day to Valentine as a way to shorten ride on first day due to the half day of shuttle time. Then next day was hoping to shuttle the 26 miles back to Wood Lake and from there continue remaining ride heading east.
The issue is we are striking out in attempt to locate a shuttle, or even a bike shop in Valentine to help us accomplish this plan.! Anyone have any suggestions? Ideas?
If we don't do it this way, and rather shuttle all the way to Valentine on front end then our first ride day will be something over 60 miles (this after the 3 hour shuttle time in the morning) just to reach the first town with lodging. Too much! Thus the idea of starting at Wood Lake and splitting the first stretch over two days by paying for a shuttle. thanks!

 
opedaler from NE Nebraska on 08/09/2023 12:39 PM
If I'm reading your question correctly, you seem to be going from Valentine to Bassett on your first day. There is a nice place to stay there and it is 64 miles. You can however stop in Ainsworth which is 47.5 miles and also has lodging available. My wife and I are coming up with the same dilemma take an extra day and make the first day shorter, or ride 64 miles and get done a little faster. Ainsworth has three hotels listed and one in Long Pine. You might want to double check me on this, and correct me if I am wrong tho.


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Shuttle in Valentine?
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Very Enjoyable Ride
 -  + I rode a very enjoyable out and back from Neligh to Ainsworth. Started on 7/15/23 and returned to Neligh on 7/21/23. I was very lucky with the weather, most days it was low/mid 80's. Really nice for m...
Discussion started 07/25/2023 12:18 PM by CowboyMikeonaBike - 1 reply (last reply by Alex at 07/26/2023 02:54 PM)
CowboyMikeonaBike from Lincoln on 07/25/2023 12:18 PM
I rode a very enjoyable out and back from Neligh to Ainsworth. Started on 7/15/23 and returned to Neligh on 7/21/23.
I was very lucky with the weather, most days it was low/mid 80's. Really nice for mid July in Nebraska. Happy to report that I had no trouble with my Trek Dual Sport 3 with tubeless tires. No Flats! I've been riding for years but this was my first multi-day bike ride.
The trail was in great shape. Thanks Alex and the maintenance crew. Pay attention and avoid the few bumps, ruts & holes in the trail. One of the bumps turned out to be a huge turtle! I rode a leisurely pace of 30-40 miles each day. Stayed overnight in O'Neill (Carriage House Motel), Stuart (Stuart Village Inn), Long Pine (Bunkhouse), Atkinson (Sandhills Guest House Motel) and Ewing (2 Rivers Motel). All of the motels were excellent. The restaurants and mini marts were very accommodating. I was able to fill up my 3 water bottles with ice & water in almost every town I passed through. Although I had not planned any activities besides biking I had a lot of fun going to the drive-in movie in Neligh, the rodeo in O'Neill, the stock car races in Stuart, floated down Long Pine Creek, bought a cowboy hat at Ranch Land Western Wear in Ainsworth (perfect fit thanks to Joe) and even went to the Bassett Livestock Auction. I'm convinced, biking is the best way to experience the sandhills.
My advice is take it easy. Ride in the morning when it is cooler and less windy. Prepare for the worst and bring extra tubes but definitely go with tubeless tires. Stop and explore the area whenever you can. Find the best place to eat by looking for where the pickup trucks are parked. Lots to see and do. I always had service on my Verizon iPhone. I'm already planning my next bike trip on The Cowboy Trail.

 
Alex from Lincoln on 07/26/2023 02:54 PM
Thanks for riding the trail and taking the time for making this writeup! I'm glad you enjoyed the trip - getting off the trail at each town and exploring is key for a memorable trip.

Happy Trails!


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Very Enjoyable Ride
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bike shuttle
 -  + Canadian smoke is causing me to possibly rethink my planned trip in July along the Erie Canal trail in NY. I've always been curious about the Cowboy Trail. If I drive to one end does anyone know if th...
Discussion started 06/29/2023 02:38 PM by Katy Kelly - 6 replies (last reply by opedaler at 07/20/2023 07:26 PM)
Katy Kelly from Brown County Indiana on 06/29/2023 02:38 PM
Canadian smoke is causing me to possibly rethink my planned trip in July along the Erie Canal trail in NY. I've always been curious about the Cowboy Trail. If I drive to one end does anyone know if there is anyway (other than riding back) to get back to my car?
And any opinions as to going east to west or vice versa?
Thanks

 
Alex from Lincoln on 06/30/2023 08:03 AM
I tend to recommend west to east as there is a higher probability for a tailwind. North Fork Outfitting runs a shuttle along the trail. Another option is to rent a U-Haul in Norfolk and drive it back to Valentine.

 
Katy Kelly from Brown County Indiana on 06/30/2023 12:36 PM
Thanks Alex.

 
opedaler from NE Nebraska on 06/30/2023 04:26 PM
Crap Katy......my wife and I are just packing up to head to the Erie Canal. Smoke just about done us in on the Couer d'Alene trail a few years ago. I was hoping that would be the only time.

We plan on doing the Cowboy in August. I can speak for the east end of the Cowboy, and say the trail is in good shape there, and am hearing good things about the west but haven't ridden it. We're looking forward to riding it and when we do. we will ride from west to east. Along with what Alex mentioned there is also a gradual drop in elevation from the west to the east to the tune of about 1200' if memory serves.

If you ride it, I'd be very interested in an assessment here if you have the time.

 
Katy Kelly from Brown County Indiana on 07/03/2023 07:15 PM
Hi opedaler

Thanks for the message!

I hope the smoke stays away from you. I'm in southern Indiana and we had some bad smoke days last week so, given the unpredictability of wind currents, and not wanting to either 1. stay glued to my air quality app or 2. spend time in coffee shops or libraries waiting for the smoke to clear I decided at the last minute to change rides - I've had my eye on the Cowboy Trail for some time.

As well as the opportunity to see some prairies, visit Carhenge, and kayak on the Niobrara River.

I will post my assessment later on.
I'd love to hear how your trip on the Erie goes. Are you riding Buffalo to Albany?

Katy

 
Curtis Reeves from Presque lsle on 07/17/2023 07:23 AM
I'm going to take the trail I'm one day from east coast to Reno,Nv. Hope it's in good shape

 
opedaler from NE Nebraska on 07/20/2023 07:26 PM
Katy Kelly,
The Erie Canal ride went very well for us, no smoke until the last day when rain also made its presence known. Several accidents with the group on slippery bridges ,a couple fairly serious, for others however. Also one individual overheated and passed away in his tent during the night. A lesson for everyone who rides in heat and humidity.....stay hydrated, and rest when needed.

Still looking forward to doing the Cowboy trail. We've done portions of it quite often, but never the whole thing at once. It's a bucket list thing for us. Alex has convinced me to make the switch to tubeless slime however. I've been a diehard no slime guy, and had liners, thorn resistant tubes, and hard case tires all lined up, but a previous rider from western Ne (Gordon) told me nice try but you need to go tubeless so I guess we'll try it and see. I'll report how it goes.

I hope you enjoy your ride and Nebraska hospitality. Ride safe.


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bike shuttle
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Trail conditions now Valentine to Atkinson
 -  + Hello! Coming up to visit family on the Cowboy Trail! The last time I rode between Atkinson and O'Neill there were lots of "goat heads" and I got a flat. I am planning to ride a few sections this summ...
Discussion started 06/23/2023 04:42 PM by mtnbkrjen - 3 replies (last reply by Alex at 07/19/2023 08:31 AM)
mtnbkrjen from Phoenix on 06/23/2023 04:42 PM
Hello!
Coming up to visit family on the Cowboy Trail! The last time I rode between Atkinson and O'Neill there were lots of "goat heads" and I got a flat. I am planning to ride a few sections this summer with a shuttle drop off. How are trail conditions? TIA!

 
Alex from Lincoln on 06/26/2023 09:48 AM
I would say it is getting better but still recommend using slime in your tubes or run tubeless tires. Also if you do pick up a goat head, don't pull it out, the sealant will work better as the thorn acts like a plug.

 
Doug from Wichita on 07/18/2023 09:54 PM
I’m in valentine tonight with a desire to ride east a few miles tomorrow. Where do the goat heads show up? Our prime purpose of being here is to see and ride the bridge. We’re hoping to ride 10 out and 10 back if the trail isn’t stickers.

 
Alex from Lincoln on 07/19/2023 08:31 AM
We just used the goathead roller a few weeks ago from the Niobrara bridge going east on the trail about 4 miles. Let me know your experience, as we definitely picked up a good amount of goatheads and prickly pears.


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Trail conditions now Valentine to Atkinson
https://bikecowboytrail.com/talk.aspx?tid=11055&tonly=1

Storm Damage, Emmet/O'Neill Area
 -  + Hi all, We sustained some heavy storms over the weekend in the O'Neill area. We are in the process of cleaning things up but there may be downed branches we haven't gotten to for the next week. If y...
Discussion started 06/26/2023 12:14 PM by Alex - 0 replies
Alex from Lincoln on 06/26/2023 12:14 PM
Hi all,

We sustained some heavy storms over the weekend in the O'Neill area. We are in the process of cleaning things up but there may be downed branches we haven't gotten to for the next week. If you do find an issue please report it here: https://arcg.is/1HPvbv

Happy Trails!


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Storm Damage, Emmet/O'Neill Area
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Wood Lake City Park in Wood Lake
 -  + Everything Charles said in 2021 is still true. Nice little park, clean, well stocked bathrooms, running water, electricity. Plenty of seating.
Discussion started 06/21/2023 08:29 PM by Andrea - 0 replies
Andrea from Omaha on 06/21/2023 08:29 PM
Everything Charles said in 2021 is still true. Nice little park, clean, well stocked bathrooms, running water, electricity. Plenty of seating.


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Wood Lake City Park in Wood Lake
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Newport Pool Hall in Newport
 -  + We camped here, and it was a nice break in between some tough trail. The owners stopped by and were excited to have campers. While the pool hall has a water hydrant outside, there aren't bathrooms.....
Discussion started 06/21/2023 08:26 PM by Andrea - 0 replies
Andrea from Omaha on 06/21/2023 08:26 PM
We camped here, and it was a nice break in between some tough trail. The owners stopped by and were excited to have campers. While the pool hall has a water hydrant outside, there aren't bathrooms...but the owners were nice enough to open up the city gym so we could have access to bathrooms overnight.

Also always exciting to have some snack options you haven't been carrying with you. Neat little stop and friendly people.


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Newport Pool Hall in Newport
https://bikecowboytrail.com/talk.aspx?tid=11053&tonly=1

The trail between Neligh and Clearwater
 -  + I keep looking at the trail online from Google Earth and MSN maps and notice that the there is a bridge that appears to be washed out crossing the Elkron River. Has this been repaired or do I need to...
Discussion started 06/20/2023 09:44 PM by Matthew - 1 reply (last reply by Alex at 06/21/2023 07:52 AM)
Matthew from Iowa City, Iowa on 06/20/2023 09:44 PM
I keep looking at the trail online from Google Earth and MSN maps and notice that the there is a bridge that appears to be washed out crossing the Elkron River. Has this been repaired or do I need to go around. I am planning on riding the trail either in August or September.

 
Alex from Lincoln on 06/21/2023 07:52 AM
Here's a list of current closures and detours:

- A large bridge over the Elkhorn River between Oakdale and Neligh is still out so you will need to take the highway shoulder between Oakdale and Neligh for about 4 miles.

- Just west of Neligh there is a short stretch next to the river that has been eroded severely. You will be able to see some construction cones on the trail, you will need to walk adjacent highway shoulder for roughly 1/4mile and then can jump back on. Or if comfortable you can probably hike through the damaged section, stay away from the edge though.

- Between Neligh and Clearwater there is a section of trail that is permanently closed due the 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. 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.

On NGPC's online trail map it will show a closure just east of the Niobrara River trail bridge, it is passable at the moment but exercise caution. These detours are likely to remain the same for the remainder of 2023.


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The trail between Neligh and Clearwater
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Trail condition/tire size
 -  + My sons and I are planning to ride from Montana to Iowa to do RAGBRAI this summer, and are interested in including the Cowboy Trail in our trip. We'll be on road bikes, likely on tires in the 32-38 mm...
Discussion started 04/25/2023 02:03 PM by Pat Ryan - 2 replies (last reply by TOB at 06/05/2023 03:36 PM)
Pat Ryan from Butte, Montana on 04/25/2023 02:03 PM
My sons and I are planning to ride from Montana to Iowa to do RAGBRAI this summer, and are interested in including the Cowboy Trail in our trip. We'll be on road bikes, likely on tires in the 32-38 mm width range. I see from older posts that the trail condition has improved recently. Is this a good choice for road bikes or should I look into a different route?

 
Alex from Lincoln on 04/26/2023 11:44 AM
I would say 32mm is the minimum to use on the trail, but definitely doable. You will have a better time with 38's if you can swing those. Worst case you can use HWY 20/275 shoulder as a backup if the trail ends up not being your cup of tea. Sounds like a great trip!

 
TOB from Iowa on 06/05/2023 03:36 PM
Pat - Could you share the route you plan to take from Montana to Sioux City? I have been looking for a good Missoula, MT to Valentine, NE route. Thank you.


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Trail condition/tire size
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Trail log
 -  + My wife and I started the trail today from Ainsworth. We made it to Stuart averaging a comfortable 10 miles per hour. 75 degrees, little to no wind. Trail in great shape. Scenery may not rival the Mic...
Discussion started 05/22/2023 01:34 PM by Eli - 1 reply (last reply by Alex at 06/01/2023 09:02 AM)
Eli from Rexburg, Idaho on 05/22/2023 01:34 PM
My wife and I started the trail today from Ainsworth. We made it to Stuart averaging a comfortable 10 miles per hour. 75 degrees, little to no wind. Trail in great shape. Scenery may not rival the Micklesen Trail, but beautiful just the same.

 
Alex from Lincoln on 06/01/2023 09:02 AM
Thanks for the trip report!


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Trail log
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Neligh Deli
 -  + Wanted to give a shout out and recommendation for the Neligh Deli in Neligh. It is a short distance from the trail and offers daily lunch specials. The owners would like to cater to bikers and you c...
Discussion started 05/27/2023 02:47 PM by Trevor - 0 replies
Trevor from League City, Tx on 05/27/2023 02:47 PM
Wanted to give a shout out and recommendation for the Neligh Deli in Neligh. It is a short distance from the trail and offers daily lunch specials. The owners would like to cater to bikers and you can even order on-line and have it ready for pick-up for you fkt aficionados!


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Neligh Deli
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a thorny trail in May
 -  + Unless your absolute favorite thing to do in the whole world is to patch bicycle tube punctures, then thorn-resistant tires, slime, or other thorn mitigation measures are an absolute MUST to ride thi...
Discussion started 05/24/2023 10:40 AM by J Winch - 2 replies (last reply by Trevor at 05/27/2023 02:32 PM)
J Winch from Mazomanie, Wisconsin on 05/24/2023 10:40 AM
Unless your absolute favorite thing to do in the whole world is to patch bicycle tube punctures, then thorn-resistant tires, slime, or other thorn mitigation measures are an absolute MUST to ride this trail. I rode the entire trail from Norfolk to Valentine as a series of out-and-backs over seven days (May 13-19, 2023), with just regular MTB tires. Stay on the main travelled part of the trail as much as possible. More than half of the 12+ punctures I experienced were after pulling my bike to the right side of the trail, though still on the limestone trail. The absolute worst section (from a thorn perspective) is between the Elkhorn gravel plant (2-3 miles west of Atkinson) and Stuart. I experienced two double punctures over this 6-mile section - one set heading west to Stuart, and one set on the return to Atkinson headed east. Highway 20 is close by over this section, and unless you are a rail-to-trail "purist", consider riding this 6-mile section on the ample 6-ft+ shoulder of Highway 20 to avoid the thorns. A 6-ft+ shoulder is available for the entire length of the Hwy 275 and 20 routes that closely follow most of the Cowboy Trail ( within 25-100 feet). The 16-17 miles east of Valentine were the most pleasant of the entire route, as they are well away from the highway and, until I got into Valentine city limits, thorn-free. Pack a sharpie pen so you can easily mark the puncture locations for patching

 
Alex from Lincoln on 05/24/2023 02:17 PM
Thank you for this valuable information and I'm sorry goatheads gave you trouble on this trip. We will hit the sections described as soon as we can with the new implement we have.

 
Trevor from League City, Tx on 05/27/2023 02:32 PM
Agree with the suggestion for hwy alternate in the Elkhorn Gravel Plant to Stuart section. On April 30th I did my last out-and-back of my trip from Atkinson to Stuart and had a rear flat somewhere between MM 98 & MM 100 and a front flat from a goat head on the return from Stuart to MM 100. I never went off-path but I guess I didn't get them all and must have left some for others to experience! :) Otherwise, I had no issues and really enjoyed the out-and-backs from Norfolk to Atkinson.


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a thorny trail in May
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 -  + Hi All – With traffic picking back up on the trail, I wanted to put up a reminder that we still have some closures on the trail. - A large bridge over the Elkhorn River between Oakdale and Neligh is ...
Discussion started 05/23/2023 07:34 AM by Alex - 0 replies
Alex from Lincoln on 05/23/2023 07:34 AM
Hi All – With traffic picking back up on the trail, I wanted to put up a reminder that we still have some closures on the trail.
- A large bridge over the Elkhorn River between Oakdale and Neligh is still out so you will need to take the highway shoulder between Oakdale and Neligh for about 4 miles.
- Just west of Neligh there is a short stretch next to the river that has been eroded severely. You will be able to see some construction cones on the trail, you will need to walk adjacent highway shoulder for roughly 1/4mile and then can jump back on. Or if comfortable you can probably hike through the damaged section, stay away from the edge though.
- Between Neligh and Clearwater there is a section of trail that is permanently closed due the 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. 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.

On NGPC's online trail map it will show a closure just east of the Niobrara River trail bridge, it is passable at the moment but exercise caution. These detours are likely to remain the same for the remainder of 2023.

A bit about goatheads - all trails and roads pose potential flat hazards, best you can do is try to mitigate and be prepared with extra tubes. I have had luck running slime in my tubes and if I do pick up few goatheads, don't pull them out, the thorn acts like a plug and helps the sealant seal the air leak. We are trying some new mitigation measures to reduce the presence of goatheads this year.

I hope you come out to ride the trail!


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Cowboy Trail continue to Kilgore, NE?
 -  + My cousins and I are planning a tripto to NE to bike the Cowboy Trail. Does the tail go beyond Valentine,NE? it looks liik it is completed to almost Kilgore,NE. Is it completed to almost Kilgore or n...
Discussion started 05/20/2023 06:39 PM by Ron - 1 reply (last reply by Alex at 05/22/2023 08:44 AM)
Ron from Gettysburg, PA on 05/20/2023 06:39 PM
My cousins and I are planning a tripto to NE to bike the Cowboy Trail. Does the tail go beyond Valentine,NE? it looks liik it is completed to almost Kilgore,NE. Is it completed to almost Kilgore or not? Any info on the Trail west of Valentine would be greatly appreciated for planning our trip. Thank you.
Ron

 
Alex from Lincoln on 05/22/2023 08:44 AM
The trail is developed, surfaced, and maintained between Valentine and Norfolk NE. Besides the 15 mile segment between Rushville and Gordon, the trail west of Valentine is not developed yet. Hope you enjoy your trip!


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Cowboy Trail continue to Kilgore, NE?
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West Hill View Motel in Neligh
 -  + What is the cost for one night for one person? Thank you
Discussion started 05/21/2023 06:23 PM by ron - 0 replies
ron from Gettysburg on 05/21/2023 06:23 PM
What is the cost for one night for one person? Thank you


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West Hill View Motel in Neligh
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Cowboy Trail continue to Kilgore, NE?
 -  + My cousins and I are planning a tripto to NE to bike the Cowboy Trail. Does the tail go beyond Valentine,NE? it looks liik it is completed to almost Kilgore,NE. Is it completed to almost Kilgore or n...
Discussion started 05/20/2023 06:33 PM by Ron - 0 replies
Ron from Gettysburg, PA on 05/20/2023 06:33 PM
My cousins and I are planning a tripto to NE to bike the Cowboy Trail. Does the tail go beyond Valentine,NE? it looks liik it is completed to almost Kilgore,NE. Is it completed to almost Kilgore or not? Any info on the Trail west of Valentine would be greatly appreciated for planning our trip. Thank you.
Ron


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Cowboy Trail continue to Kilgore, NE?
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 -  + Some heavy rains have caused localized erosion near the trail surface at Cache Creek, appx 2.7 miles east of Tilden. Also undermining caused a depression of the trail approach to the Claire Creek brid...
Discussion started 05/17/2023 08:08 AM by Alex - 1 reply (last reply by Alex at 05/19/2023 07:21 AM)
Alex from Lincoln on 05/17/2023 08:08 AM
Some heavy rains have caused localized erosion near the trail surface at Cache Creek, appx 2.7 miles east of Tilden. Also undermining caused a depression of the trail approach to the Claire Creek bridge, appx 2.5 miles east of Oakdale. Please exercise caution in these spots.

Claire Creek
https://goo.gl/maps/S5FSxvTfq4Fuojmm6

We will be working on Claire Creek the next few days.

Cache Creek
https://goo.gl/maps/HKBhzUPm9tFUfsme8



 
Alex from Lincoln on 05/19/2023 07:21 AM
Claire creek is fixed - these are passable.


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Skinner's Motor Court in Ainsworth
 -  + Does anyone have any experience with Skinner's Motor Court in Ainsworth? Clean? Comfortable? Decent? Thank you. Steve F, Roseville CA
Discussion started 04/28/2023 04:15 PM - 2 replies (last reply by Richard at 05/16/2023 09:46 AM)
Anonymous on 04/28/2023 04:15 PM
Does anyone have any experience with Skinner's Motor Court in Ainsworth? Clean? Comfortable? Decent? Thank you.

Steve F, Roseville CA

 
Alex from Lincoln on 05/02/2023 10:01 AM
I'm not sure if Skinner's is still open? I just called and the call wouldn't go through. I can recommend the historic Bassett Lodge for an overnight stay or there are the usual chain hotels in Ainsworth too.


 
Richard from Hastings on 05/16/2023 09:46 AM
Bassett Lodge,& cafe is outstanding, as I stayed there awhile back following the Cowboy trail with my car! (Walking problem) So many blueberries in the pancakes, I couldnt count them! Very good resting place!


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Skinner's Motor Court in Ainsworth
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04/28 Ride Valentine > Norfolk
 -  + Hello, I'll be riding the Cowboy trail solo from Valentine to Norfolk starting Friday morning 04/28 and aiming to arrive in Norfolk around lunch hours 04/30. My legs of the trip are as follows: Day 1...
Discussion started 04/20/2023 02:11 PM by Daniel Zavadil - 2 replies (last reply by Daniel Zavadil at 04/26/2023 10:54 AM)
Daniel Zavadil from Bozeman on 04/20/2023 02:11 PM
Hello, I'll be riding the Cowboy trail solo from Valentine to Norfolk starting Friday morning 04/28 and aiming to arrive in Norfolk around lunch hours 04/30. My legs of the trip are as follows:

Day 1 Friday 04/28 - Valentine > Bassett (63 miles)
Day 2 Saturday 04/29 - Bassett > Neligh (89 miles)
Day 3 Sunday 04/30 - Neligh > Norfolk (35 miles)

If anyone wants to tag along or has feedback for this plan, feel free to respond in this thread or contact me on Facebook. Supe excited to book this stretch.

 
Chris smith from Helena, MT on 04/24/2023 11:27 AM
Daniel, I’d love to join you, but I’ll be doing the Mickelson with my family that same time. Let me know how it goes. I’m planning to ride the Cowboy Trail (and maybe the Katy) in September. If your plans change maybe we can ride together in the fall.

 
Daniel Zavadil from Bozeman on 04/26/2023 10:54 AM
Thanks Chris, pretty set on this duration, however September will probably be much more predictable in terms of the weather! Enjoy and hope to see you around MT!


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04/28 Ride Valentine > Norfolk
https://bikecowboytrail.com/talk.aspx?tid=11040&tonly=1

2026 ride
 -  + We are planning a ride from Santa Clara, CA to Brooklyn, NY. This ride will take place in 2026. We have come through that area in 2011 and 2021. In 2021 I was in contact with you about using the trail...
Discussion started 03/31/2023 03:49 PM by Bay to Brooklyn - 2 replies (last reply by Dougt at 04/05/2023 10:22 AM)
Bay to Brooklyn from Santa Clara, CA on 03/31/2023 03:49 PM
We are planning a ride from Santa Clara, CA to Brooklyn, NY. This ride will take place in 2026. We have come through that area in 2011 and 2021. In 2021 I was in contact with you about using the trail. We did get on a section of it and tire and tube exchange was needed on both wheels due to flats caused by several punctures at once. We would love to use the trail but cannot afford the risk having the team experience these issues. Do you know how much maintenance the trail receives throughout the riding season. We will be leaving Cody on August 21stheading to Bassett. We can modify our route if the trail is in good conditions. If not we will stay on our current route. you can see more about what we are doing by visiting baytobrooklyn.org. all my contact information can be found there.
Thank you

 
Alex from Lincoln on 04/05/2023 08:10 AM
Greetings! Thanks for reaching out. I understand your concern about puncture vine, it can be nasty at times and can certainly ruin a trip if not prepared for a double flat. We are attempting some new mechanical control methods this year which actually picks up the seed, often referred to as a goathead. I hope this greatly reduces the presence of puncture vine on the trail. Check the forum to see if cyclists report fewer issues with flats from goatheads in the coming years. All trails and roads pose potential flat hazards, best you can do is try to mitigate and be prepared. I have had luck running slime in my tubes and if I do pick up few goatheads, don't pull them out, the thorn acts like a plug and helps the sealant seal the air leak. I hope you come out to ride the trail!

 
Dougt from Castana on 04/05/2023 10:22 AM
A promising sign last year was that the trail had a new maintenance man, Tom Theis who covers the trail from O'Neill to Valentine, and the trail was in a much, much better condition than it has been in the four or five years that I've ridden it out and back. He was keeping the goat heads down, and mowing and trimming were much better than in the past so hopefully he's taking care of it again this year! Keep up the good work tom!


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2026 ride
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Horse friendly camping along the trail?
 -  + Hi, I see that there is camping in several of the towns along the trail, but what if you're riding the trail on horseback? Is there anywhere to camp with your horse? Thanks.
Discussion started 03/27/2023 09:33 AM - 1 reply (last reply by Alex at 03/28/2023 07:41 AM)
Anonymous on 03/27/2023 09:33 AM
Hi, I see that there is camping in several of the towns along the trail, but what if you're riding the trail on horseback? Is there anywhere to camp with your horse? Thanks.

 
Alex from Lincoln on 03/28/2023 07:41 AM
I don't have that information available unfortunately. Check with the each city you would like to stay at. Many have rodeos or do 4h livestock events and have corrals with hay and water for a fee or may permit horses at the campground. Google each city office and you will find their phone number and can point you to who to call to set it up.


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Trail Closures
 -  + I will be hiking the Cowboy Trail starting 23 May. Just wondering about the Lone Pine trail closure and detour. For someone hiking and NOT riding, can you make it past the trail closure/issues or do...
Discussion started 02/17/2023 03:07 PM by Al - 0 replies
Al from Colorado Springs on 02/17/2023 03:07 PM
I will be hiking the Cowboy Trail starting 23 May. Just wondering about the Lone Pine trail closure and detour. For someone hiking and NOT riding, can you make it past the trail closure/issues or do you still need to take the detour?


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Shuttle Service / Bus
 -  + Any way to get back to Norfolk from Valentine if one rides solo one way?
Discussion started 02/11/2023 01:31 PM by Flint Stone - 1 reply (last reply by Alex at 02/13/2023 08:33 AM)
Flint Stone from Maple Grove on 02/11/2023 01:31 PM
Any way to get back to Norfolk from Valentine if one rides solo one way?

 
Alex from Lincoln on 02/13/2023 08:33 AM
North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk offers shuttles and is great. 402-316-0157 or https://www.nforkoutfitting.com/

Other option is to rent a uhaul truck in Valentine and drive it back to Norfolk but I have heard the service can sometimes be spotty as it's more of a car dealer / shop that happens to have uhaul rentals. Highly recommend calling and planning well in advance if you go this route.


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Tour de Nebraska bicycle ride announces 2023 route
 -  + Registration is now open for the 35th annual Tour de Nebraska that will take bicyclists on a 250-mile loop through east central Nebraska in June 20-25 [2023]. ... Highlights of the 2023 tour include t...
Discussion started 12/08/2022 10:13 AM by Ray (webmaster) - 1 reply (last reply by opedaler at 12/25/2022 05:21 PM)
Ray (webmaster) on 12/08/2022 10:13 AM
Registration is now open for the 35th annual Tour de Nebraska that will take bicyclists on a 250-mile loop through east central Nebraska in June 20-25 [2023].
...
Highlights of the 2023 tour include the Hwy. 14 Brewing Company and a street festival in Albion, Divots Brewery plus live music in Norfolk, a two-day gravel adventure that includes the Cowboy Trail, as well as tubing and kayaking options on the Elkhorn River.
...

Published by North Platte Bulletin 12/7/2022
Full article: https://northplattebulletin.com/tour-de-nebraska-bicycle-ride-announces-2023-route/

 
opedaler from Ne nerbraska on 12/25/2022 05:21 PM
My wife and I have ridden this ride numerous times and will most likely again this year. As with all group rides, weather is a central figure in how much the rides are enjoyed. Hopefully, we get weather like last year, and not the year previous. One of the changes this ride has made is staying two nights in a town before being required to move on. This minimizes the weather element. There are only three days of riding where the riders must get to the next destination point. This gives a few days to sit out because of inclement weather, or just rider fatigue, if needed. Most don't, but there are days that just aren't that fit for riding so staying in the tent, gym, or hotel and relaxing and not being forced into getting to the next point is a nice option. Also, some modifications into rider safety during extreme heat, and excessive wind or rain were made last year, and was much appreciated. Earlier starting times for heat (if needed), more sags for excessive wind, and unexpected issues were also added.....and appreciated.


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Spring Ride on the Cowboy Trail
 -  + I'm planning to ride the Cowboy Trail from Valentine to Norfolk in the spring of 2023 as part of a three trail trip: Katy, Cowboy, and Mickelson. What's the earliest I can expect decent temperatures a...
Discussion started 11/06/2022 12:45 PM by Montana rider - 2 replies (last reply by opedaler at 11/08/2022 10:13 AM)
Montana rider from Helena on 11/06/2022 12:45 PM
I'm planning to ride the Cowboy Trail from Valentine to Norfolk in the spring of 2023 as part of a three trail trip: Katy, Cowboy, and Mickelson. What's the earliest I can expect decent temperatures and riding conditions on the Cowboy trail?

 
Alex from Lincoln on 11/07/2022 12:08 PM
Greetings! If you are ok with colder weather it is doable as early as late March. Depending on our precipitation during the winter, there may still be snow drifts in spots. I typically think that mid - late April is about when we get into decent weather, 40's overnight and low 60's during the day. That all being said I've been on the trail in early May and encountered snow storms so YMMV. Best bet is to watch forecast and gear up appropriately as the weather can be unpredictable at times.

 
opedaler from NE Nebraska on 11/08/2022 10:13 AM
It appears that if following your order of rides you will start with the Katy, move on to the Cowboy, and finish it off with the Mickelson. The Katy will certainly be warmer, and the Mickelson will certainly be colder. I'm older so cold weather doesn't interest me as much as it did when I was younger. For me PERSONALLY I'd wait until at least until May if I could. There's also the potential for soggy riding from melted snow much earlier than that imo. Since you've picked all limestone trails I'm assuming you're aware of what it takes to ride these kinds of trails.....the good things....and the bad. My wife and I did a three-trail ride to your north a few years ago (Centennial, Coeur d'Alene, and the Hiawatha). We've also done the Katy, Cowboy, and Mickelson. I've enjoyed them all, but found timing pretty important on all of them. I've seen too much smoke up north late in the year, and too much rain south at times. Imo if you have to nail down a timeline, you'll just have to take a little risk, but the later you can wait to make your decision the better imo.


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Temporary trail blockage in Battle Creek
 -  + There is debris blocking the trail in Battle Creek from a grain elevator tower that collapsed from a recent wind storm. The co-op is having a contractor clean it up on Thursday next week but for the t...
Discussion started 10/26/2022 03:03 PM by Alex - 0 replies
Alex from Lincoln on 10/26/2022 03:03 PM
There is debris blocking the trail in Battle Creek from a grain elevator tower that collapsed from a recent wind storm. The co-op is having a contractor clean it up on Thursday next week but for the time being you just need to detour around the debris by using city streets.

Here is the location of the blockage: https://goo.gl/maps/MyWfTHrJPPxbsL6C9



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Trail from O'Neill to Valentine superb!!
 -  + I've done the trail from Norfolk to Valentine and back for the last 5 years. Every year from O'Neill to Valentine the trail would suffer from varying degrees of suckitude.....unmowed, untrimmed, coun...
Discussion started 10/16/2022 12:00 PM by Dougt - 1 reply (last reply by opedaler at 10/24/2022 06:49 PM)
Dougt from Onawa, Ia on 10/16/2022 12:00 PM
I've done the trail from Norfolk to Valentine and back for the last 5 years. Every year from O'Neill to Valentine the trail would suffer from varying degrees of suckitude.....unmowed, untrimmed, countless goatheads, etc. This year it was great, actually better than the trail east of O'Neill. We found the reason for this was a new man taking care of the trail from O'Neill west. I think that his name was Tom Theis and he just took the job this year. We ran into him twice, which is the first time that I've ever run into anyone taking care of the trail. He's taking the job seriously and we talked about his battle with goatheads, using a roller to compact the trail, and the many things he's doing to make the west end of the trail a joy to ride. I hope they can keep him. As always, from O'Neill east the trail often suffers from thick gravel that isn't compacted in areas. I was surprised when Tom told me that he has a roller to compact the new gravel, because they apparently never use it from O'Neill east. If the trail can keep Tom, and take care of the issues that always are present east of O'Neill, the Cowboy Trail could be right up there with the Katy or Wabash. Looking forward to next year!

 
opedaler from Ne nerbraska on 10/24/2022 06:49 PM
This is music to my ears. I only wish I had this information before we rode the Katy and Mickelson again this year. I would have really, really liked to spread the word.


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Chadron to Valentine
 -  + We are considering the Cowboy Trail for next summer. Is the trail doable from Chadron to Valentine? Or is that just a hope for the future? Thanks
Discussion started 10/15/2022 08:44 PM - 1 reply (last reply by Alex at 10/17/2022 09:27 AM)
Anonymous from Minnesota on 10/15/2022 08:44 PM
We are considering the Cowboy Trail for next summer. Is the trail doable from Chadron to Valentine? Or is that just a hope for the future? Thanks

 
Alex from Lincoln on 10/17/2022 09:27 AM
The trail is not developed west of Valentine except for a 15 mile stretch between Gordon and Rushville. Hwy 20 is actually pretty decent to ride on if you are wanting to go all the way to Chadron.


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Trail Damage Between Bassett and Newport
 -  + Unfortunately we had some damage to the trail occur between Bassett and Newport. Someone decided to drive livestock down the trail for about one mile. Use this google map link to see the damaged area....
Discussion started 09/06/2022 11:40 AM by Alex - 3 replies (last reply by opedaler at 09/13/2022 08:38 PM)
Alex from Lincoln on 09/06/2022 11:40 AM
Unfortunately we had some damage to the trail occur between Bassett and Newport. Someone decided to drive livestock down the trail for about one mile. Use this google map link to see the damaged area. We should be able to clean this up early next week but for the time being the trail is passable here but will be rough from the hoof prints.

https://goo.gl/maps/jeJgkciUyLiDaa6o8


 
Cynthya from Lewis,KS on 09/06/2022 12:15 PM
Sad.... it's been 5 years since we rode. Saw places then where cattle and tractors (not 4 wheelers, but saw those as well) left marks on the trail. Not so bad to impede ride, but...
I hope to ride the trail again. Would love to see it finished to Chadron... but I know take time, $$ and workers. All hard to come by and coordinate.

 
Alex from Lincoln on 09/12/2022 03:49 PM
This segment has been dragged and rolled with a compacter. Note that it will need some rain to harden completely but is in a lot better shape now.

 
opedaler from Ne nerbraska on 09/13/2022 08:38 PM
I hope the necessary party was sent the bill!


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Just finshed the trial 8/1
 -  + My 11-year-old and I completed the trail from Valentine to Norfolk in two and a half days (7/29-8/1). My son was running on standard 700 X 35 tires with Mr Tuffy tire liners and thorn resistant tubes...
Discussion started 08/04/2022 04:17 PM by Shege - 3 replies (last reply by opedaler at 08/27/2022 04:13 AM)
Shege from Lincoln on 08/04/2022 04:17 PM
My 11-year-old and I completed the trail from Valentine to Norfolk in two and a half days (7/29-8/1). My son was running on standard 700 X 35 tires with Mr Tuffy tire liners and thorn resistant tubes. I was running 700 X 40 Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires with a thorn resistant tube on the rear, standard tube on the front. Neither of use suffered any flats. Everyone I talked to about the trail told me horror stories about all the flats people get on the trail, but we seemed to have lucked out. We were very conscious about not riding our bikes on grassy (green) areas around the trail. If we needed to leave the trail, we always dismounted our bikes and walked them. Before we remounted the bikes, we inspected the tires for thorns. My son found two thorns this way but removed them before they could do any damage. My wife sagged for us, so we were able to travel light and took a “rest” date in the middle to check out some of the attractions. We also got extremely lucky with the weather. The first day was only in the 80s and the other days were in the low 90s. The day after we finished it was 103 in Norfolk. The winds were not really a factor. We did have a 15 mph side wind on the second day, but that was just a little bit of a nuisance. If it would have been a head wind it would have been a much more difficult ride. Below are my notes on the trail and some of the other things we did. Our main issue was that ground squirrels like to dig holes on the trail and if you aren’t paying attention, you can lose control of your bike.

Day 1 - Valentine to Johnstown. Rode 36 miles in the morning and then went tubing down the Niobrara River in the afternoon. The trail surface was generally in good condition and hard packed.

Day 2 - Johnstown to Ainsworth- surface was generally good with a few light gravel/sandy spots where holes had been filled in. There is about a mile or so of trail in Ainsworth that is paved.
Ainsworth to Long Pine- surface was generally good with a few light gravel/sandy spots where holes had been filled in. The bridge outside of Long Pine is a slightly smaller version of the one in Valentine and is pretty cool.
Long Pine to Bassett – The bridge just outside of Long Pine is out so you will need to detour to the highway for a few miles and then you can get back on the trail. The trail was pretty good the whole way with no issues. We stopped at the Bassett Lodge for lunch. I recommend the chicken fried steak sandwich and my son recommends the bacon cheeseburger and brownie sundae.
Bassett to Stuart – there are long stretches that have a lot of sand/light gravel on them. This was challenging but did not require us to stop. The trail gets better as you get closer to Stuart.
Stuart to Atkinson – trail was pretty good throughout.
Atkinson to Emmett – trail was generally good with a few sandy/light gravel spots.

Day 3 – My son called for a rest day. We went to Ashfall Fossils Beds in the morning. If you are into fossils at all this is a must see. In the evening we went to a chicken dinner at the American Legion hall in Atkinson (last Sunday of every month) and then to dirt track car races in Stuart (every Sunday in the Summer).

Day 4 – Emmett to O’Neill – trail was good, there were some washouts at intersections.
O’Neill to Inman - trail was generally good with a few sandy/light gravel spots. There is a long-paved section in O’Neill. We saw a lot of thorn plants but fortunately no thorns.
Inman to Ewing – there was one very sandy/light gravel section right outside of Inman where we had to dismount and walk for a short distance. The remainder of the section was good.
Ewing to Clearwater – trail was generally good.
Clearwater to Neligh – there are two detours, you can jump on the highway and back onto the trail. Other than that the trail is in generally good condition.
Neligh to Oakdale – trail was closed right outside of Neligh. We took the highway all the way to Oakdale
Oakdale to Tilden- a lot of sections with heavy sand/light gravel. We had to dismount and walk on two portions.
Tilden to Meadow Grove– Starts out with heavy sand/light sand. We had to dismount and walk on one section. The trail improves as you go.
Meadow Grove to Norfolk – this portion of the trail is really good. The last few miles into Norfolk are paved.

 
JKann from Iowa on 08/08/2022 09:36 PM
Thank you for your post. We'll be doing the trail later this week and your update is fabulous! Appreciate you taking the time to write it!

 
Estes from Kansas City on 08/17/2022 01:49 PM
Thanks for the great information!!!

 
opedaler from Ne nerbraska on 08/27/2022 04:13 AM
Great post. Thanks! Oh, and congratulations for completing the journey. I bet your son talks about this for a long time.

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