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Share your comments, questions, opinions, and advice on the Cowboy Trail.
 
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Can I take a team of horses and a covered wagon on this trail?
 - 
Randy Koenig from Sioux Rapids on 07/21/2019 08:27 AM
Hope to do the entire trail.

 
Bob from Topeka, KS on 07/21/2019 08:56 AM
I'm afraid you can't. There are posts in the middle of the trail to prevent motorized traffic. I even had to carry my 3 wheeled bike over one at a bridge.

 
Cynthya from Salina on 07/21/2019 10:08 AM
I believe horses are allowed, however, a wagon, while not motorized, would be heavy? If wet, would cut up the trail. As well as the blocks mentioned in another post.


East City Park in Ainsworth
 - 
mwalsh23 from Boulder, CO on 07/18/2019 10:58 AM
Talked to Wendy with the City of Ainsworth. No reservations allowed at the park. It is rarely full. They make every effort to accomodate cyclists even if the sites are all full.


Cowboy Trail closures
 - 
Tandem Touring from Michigan on 06/27/2019 04:02 PM
Husband and I are considering taking the Cowboy Trail in September starting at Valentine and riding to Norfolk. I am reading about closures. Are there closures on this trail? Would the conditions as they are today be too difficult for a tandem bicycle? Is there a shuttle system from Norfolk to Valentine to get our car?Thanks for reading this post and responding.

 
Alex from Lincoln on 06/28/2019 11:00 AM
Yes there are closures on the trail. See maps.outdoornebraska.gov/trails for current trail closures. Typically to get around the closures you ride on the shoulder of HWY 275/20. For your tandem, I would say it depends on your tire width on the bicycle. A road tandem would have trouble but if you have greater than a 35c/1.5" tire width you'd be alright. The wider, the better when you're on the trail. For a shuttle look up North Fork Outfitting in Norfolk, NE.

 
Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 07/13/2019 08:37 PM
You can give me a call at 402-316-0157 North Fork Outfitting. I shuttle to Valentine, as well as bike rentals and some gear too...
I have a long trailer so the tandem is no problem.


Prevailing winds?
 - 
Bob White from North Conway NH on 07/12/2019 10:01 AM
I noticed on this sire there's a elevation profile for the trail showing Valentine higher than Norfolk elevation. Does anyone know what the prevailing wind direction is in Nebraska? I know the weather usually flows across the country west to east and wind can blow from any direction, but is the general prevailing wind also west to east??
Thanks!

 
Alex on 07/12/2019 10:13 AM
Prevailing wind is from west to east. And yes you lose elevation that direction as well. It is a rail bed so the grade is 3-5% usually. But the wind can become your hills :)


Long Pine
 - 
Keith from Omaha on 07/06/2019 11:01 PM
Is there a safe overnight parking option in Long Pine? Riding from LP to Valentine and need to leave car overnight

 
Alex from Lincoln on 07/08/2019 10:46 AM
I think you can park at the bunk house/city office overnight. Just give them a call and ask - 402-273-4120. Otherwise if you have a park permit there is Long Pine SRA.


biking from Ainsworth ? which direction is the best
 - 
S&J from Oklahoma on 06/15/2019 09:56 PM
We are planning to bike from Ainsworth on 6/16. Can anyone tell us which direction you would recommend...going east or west? This is probably the only time we will be able to bike this part of the trail. Thanks!


Trail Status Valentine Eastward
 - 
Mrwhiskers from Bartlett TN on 06/04/2019 03:53 PM
Is trail open eastward from Valentine?
Is Norflok to Battle Creek open?

 
Alex from Lincoln on 06/05/2019 08:19 AM
This map has the most current information on closed segments of the cowboy trail.

https://maps.outdoornebraska.gov/Trails/



 
johnr from Bellingham, WA on 06/12/2019 11:33 PM
The trail east of Valentine is open-ish. I just rode as much of it as possible last week from Valentine to Battle Creek. In fact, the best part of the trail, in my opinion, was the 15 - 20 miles directly and immediately east of Valentine. Here the trail wanders far from Highway 20, through the sand hills. Peaceful and beautiful. As you travel east pretty much anyplace that the trail crosses the Elkhorn River, the bridge has been washed out and there is no crossing the Elkhorn right now, so one must detour to Highway 20. It's worth it, however, to ride right up to the washout and then turn around because the sight of it is awesome. Much of the Cowboy trail between Valentine and Battle creek in right next to Highway 20 (literally 20 feet from the road) and not all that interesting.


Norfolk Daily News article
 - 
Emily C. on 06/10/2019 04:32 PM
Hi all, I'm a reporter for the Norfolk Daily News and I'm working on an article about the Cowboy Trail. How have your plans been affected by trail closures? What does the Cowboy Trail mean to you? If you'd like to share your thoughts and experiences, feel free to reach out: ecase@norfolkdailynews.com.

Thanks!
Emily Case
Norfolk Daily News


Dogs
 - 
Bill from Vancouver, WA on 06/10/2019 08:08 AM
Got chased by two dogs inbetween Battle Creek and Meadow Grove. One bit me. Reported this to Tilden PD who forwardedto County Sheriff's office.


State map says Cowboy Trail is open between Oakdale and Neligh but it is definitely NOT
 - 
Karl from West Nyack,NY on 05/29/2019 07:06 AM
Riding the trail (and 275/20) the next few days. Yesterday, I found out the hard way that the state map at
https://maps.outdoornebraska.gov/Trails/
is NOT a complete depiction of closures - that map shows the trail as open between Oakdale and a Neligh, but there is a huge washout at the elkhorn river bridge with swirling water in it.

There were “Trail Closed” signs, which I made the mistake of ignoring assuming the map would be up to date.

-Karl

 
Dougt from Onawa, Ia. on 05/29/2019 09:51 AM
It's good to hear from someone about current trail conditions and hopefully you'll keep posting about conditions over the whole trail. I'll do it again in Sept and plan on Norfolk to O'Neill for my first day and my last day. It looks like a lot of that will be detoured off of the trail from the map that is posted. Any info is appreciated. Thanks!

 
Alex from Lincoln on 05/30/2019 03:59 PM
The map has not been updated yet but will be shortly to show Bridge 211, west of Oakdale, being closed. That damage occurred very recently.

-Alex

 
Opedaler from Northeast Ne on 05/31/2019 02:09 AM
This poor trail just keeps getting hammered. I don't know what the future holds for the Cowboy trail. I hope it is resilient because from what I can see some major repairs are needed.

 
Cynthya from Salina on 05/31/2019 07:10 AM
Let's hope the weather lets up and the state of Nebraska goes to bat for the tell. We rode The Trail in 2017 from one end to the other and back. There were rough spots then, but we enjoyed the ride and planned to come back.

 
John from SD on 05/31/2019 07:12 AM
Yesterday, (May 30th, 2019) I was on the section of the trail from Norfolk to Battle Creek. This section of the trail was open and not damaged. When I arrived to Battle Creek to continue on the trail, there was a large sign posted "Trail Closed Until Further Notice". That's when I turned around and headed back to Norfolk.


tires
 - 
Clark Martinson from Houston on 05/28/2019 09:02 PM
joining BRAN this weekend and plan on riding Valentine to Atkinson Cowboy trail. Can a carbon fiber bike with 25 cm Continental Gator Slkins work? Or would a Steel touring bike with 32 cm Panasonic Graveling tires be a better choice?

 
Dougt from Onawa, Ia. on 05/29/2019 09:46 AM
I rode the trail both ways last Sept and would imagine that conditions are worse now after the flood. I'm a road biker but wouldn't even consider a road bike for this trip. I rode a mtn bike with 2 1/2" tires and had no problems, but there were areas that were rough. Look for my posting about trail conditions.


Electric Bike on the Trail
 - 
Tom on 05/25/2019 04:07 PM
I am exploring the possibility of riding an ebike on the trail. The model is a Radpower Radmini, which is a folding multi-purpose trail bike with 20" wheels, 4" knobby fat tires with puncture protection (Kenda K-Shield), and front suspension. I have two questions. The first is - are there any prohibitions against an ebike on the trail (it's a Class 2 bike with throttle capable of a top speed of 20mph)? Second question - I would plan on about 35 miles per battery charge, so I am hoping there are spots along the trail where I can plug in and re-charge the battery (I am trying to avoid the weight and cost of a second battery)? In reading several posts I see where some campsites have electricity and others don't. I would hope the locals along the trail would not have any issues if I had a meal in a cafe while charging up the battery.

And just so this doesn't become a discussion between ebikes v. human-power bikes, I am a senior who has physical issues which make the ebike option one that actually allows me to even consider this trip. Thanks for your understanding.

 
Tom on 05/25/2019 04:14 PM
One clarification: the ebike has a pedal assist feature, which provides motor assistance at a specified level of power. It's not a question of simply using the available throttle as if it were a moped or scooter. I do intend to pedal the bike at a low power assist, hopefully most times at 3 or below (range is 1-5).


Ewing City Park in Ewing
 - 
Scott Bigler from Boulder, UT on 05/16/2019 06:34 PM
Our first night is planned in Ewing. Is there actually no place to camp? Suggestions, please.

 
Cynthya from Salina on 05/17/2019 10:05 AM
We camped at an RV park in Ewing. Most of the little towns have some kind of City Psrk and were very accommodating. I would think you could camp at RV park as well. At the time we were there, there were plenty of goat heads.


riding the cowboy triail
 - 
Lori from Berthoud, Colorado on 05/05/2019 10:37 PM
We are planning to bike the trail over Memorial Day weekend, but after reading some of the posts, we are wondering if the trail is open after some flooding? We plan to begin in Valentine and work our way east. Look forward to an update. Thank you.

 
Lux from Lincoln, Nebraska on 05/15/2019 09:25 AM
Here’s a link to the latest information from the trail manager, Alexander Duryea:
http://outdoornebraska.gov/cowboytrail/

“The cowboy trail will not be entirely open from Valentine to Norfolk for quite some time due to the flood. We are on pace to open Norfolk to Battle Creek, Valentine to Long Pine, and some other sections by May 1st but if we have any further flooding it could delay the opening of those sections. I am working on a map that has open and closed sections that should be posted on www.outdoornebraska.gov/cowboytrail in a week or two. That map will be updated as we are able to repair sections of trail so check back there for updates. You will likely have to find detours around the closed sections. There are several bridges, more on the eastern end, that are out – they will be marked on the map. There are tons of great gravel roads that you can utilize for detours as well as the highway.”

 
Alex from Lincoln on 05/15/2019 11:55 AM
Hi Folks,

The map is live here: https://maps.outdoornebraska.gov/Trails/

It has not been added to our cowboy trail web-page yet but should be added soon. The map will be updated as we complete repairs but it probably won't be changing much in the next month. Utilized the highway shoulder or gravel roads if you have an appropriate bike for that to detour around the closed sections. And please stay off closed bridges, there are a few you will have to detour around.

-Alex


Two Rivers Motel in Ewing
 - 
Cindy Sheets from Perkins, OK on 05/07/2019 01:09 PM
We camped at the Two Rivers Motel one night while riding the Cowboy Trail last summer. The owner, Vonnie, was hands-down the most hospitable person we met during our week-long ride. Despite being booked full, she allowed us to camp in her backyard, and she even provided firewood and use of her firepit. Such a lovely and interesting person! We're so glad we found that place.


Cowboy Trail is Temporarily CLOSED due to Flooding
 - 
Alex from Lincoln on 03/14/2019 09:12 AM
Hi folks the Cowboy Trail in many areas is closed due to SEVERE FLOODING as of 3/14/19. I will post updates on here when I can get out and assess the damage.

 
Tim from Louisville Colorado on 03/19/2019 06:57 PM
Is the flooding bad, does anyone know if the trail will reopen after the flood? I'm planning on a ride this spring.

 
Dan from Evanston, IL on 03/20/2019 04:00 AM
I'm planning a ride across Nebraska in June. I assume (and hope for our Nebraska friends' sake) that the trail is open by then. But will its condition likely be such (e.g., pitting, deep holes) that it would be better to take a different route across the state? I know that this is speculative, but if someone has insights on this, I would be grateful to hear them. Thank you.

 
J Rowse from Louisville on 03/30/2019 03:59 PM
Watching..... hoping to ride trail in August

 
Karl from West Nyack, NY on 04/02/2019 11:04 AM
I am hoping to ride this in late May/early June, so I will be looking for updates also, I guess route 20 is also an option. How far west did the flooding go?

 
Nathan from Madison, WI on 04/08/2019 10:49 AM
Have been saddened to see how bad the flooding has been. We have been planning to ride the Cowboy Trail in early May, Valentine to Norfolk. Hoping that can still happen. We would also appreciate any local, first-hand updates as to status and trail conditions. Thanks!

 
Alex from Lincoln on 04/10/2019 11:58 AM
Hi folks,

In the next couple weeks I will post a map on www.outdoornebraska.gov/cowboytrail that will outline the open and closed sections of the trail. This map will be updated as we complete repairs and can open up more sections. Currently the trail is still closed from Valentine to Norfolk but sections could start opening by May 1. Several bridges were structually damaged and will be closed for some time, requiring detours around them. The map on our website will be the most up to date for current closures.

Anyone with questions can reach me at alexander.duryea@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5443.


 
PatTheExpat from Stockholm, Sweden on 04/28/2019 01:37 PM
I planned on biking the trail in early July and need to access updates but the site www.outdoornebraska.gov has not been accessible since I first started trying it about a month ago. When I check if there's a problem, by running the address through downforeveryoneorjustme.com, it states that the site "looks down from here".
Not sure if that's because of recent change in European privacy law, that some US sites still adapted to, or if it's technical. Any ideas?

 
Ray (webmaster) on 04/28/2019 03:27 PM
Pat, that website is definitely up. And when I use the tool that you mentioned, it says "It's just you. outdoornebraska.gov is up."

If you're still not seeing it, try a different browser. Not sure if that will make a difference, but that's always my first suggestion when a website dosen't seem to be acting right.

If that doesn't solve it, then I would guess the website is blocking you because you have a European IP address - but I don't know WHY it would do that.

I could not find any way to reach the webmaster there, but I submitted a question through their general "Contact Us" page. Will post here if I hear anything.


Trail closure
 - 
Jonathan from Omaha on 04/24/2019 08:21 PM
How much of the trail is still open. How Far East can you currently ride the trail from Valentine.


Bike Hire
 - 
Keith minnett from Cambridge UK on 04/02/2019 02:45 AM
Hi
Can anyone advise if there is bike hire available in the vicinity.
Thanks

 
Alex from Lincoln on 04/23/2019 08:54 AM
Hi Keith,

Call North Fork Outfitting - (402) 316-0157

https://www.nforkoutfitting.com/

They are located in Norfolk, NE.


Parking
 - 
Cindy from Bartlett on 04/21/2019 08:00 PM
Where is a good place to leave your car in Norfolk while riding for several days?

 
Alex from Lincoln on 04/23/2019 08:49 AM
Hi Cindy,

The Cowboy Trail trail-head at Ta-Ha-Zouka park in Norfolk has a few dedicated spots for overnight parking. I've never had an issue leaving my vehicle there and it is patrolled by the local PD.


28mm tires
 - 
Kirk on 03/06/2019 10:10 AM
We ride 28mm tires. Amy comments about riding the Cowboy trail?

 
Steve McGregor from Hannibal, MO on 03/06/2019 11:18 AM
I rode the Clement XPLOR USH 35mm tire(with Tire Liners for the Goatheads etc) and they were ok. A few places where it is sub-irrigated(up from Bassett to Stuart) and they sunk in a bit. My friend rode with Schwalbe Marathon tires (they sort of have built in liners, and they were maybe 40mm but I think still had a wider profile and she did ok with them. I ended up with one flat (a goathead through the side of the tire) just west of O'Neal, and then after we finished the next day Lisa's tire was flat from something, never could find it..

 
Alex from Lincoln on 03/07/2019 09:11 AM
28c is a little on the narrow side, I recommend cramming the largest tire you can that still fits and running that at a lower psi for a nice supple ride as the Cowboy Trail is not the smoothest at times. The looser trail surface zaps any efficiency gains you'd have with a narrower tire anyways so I opt for comfort on CBT.

 
opedaler from Northeast Nebraska on 03/24/2019 04:30 PM
We ride the trail all the time with 28's no problem.....with a couple of exceptions. 1) There is a stretch where horse riders don't always adhere to the "side-of-the-trail" mandate. If they have been on the trail when it is soft, it can make riding pretty miserable, and 2) after a flooding spring, such as this year,when they are forced to fill in sports with loose gravel/stone/rock it can be a bit challenging until the firming process is complete. It isn't as bad as the Mickelson Trail, if you are familiar with that, but it can still be challenging.

Typically, I would say "no problem" this year all bets are off.

 
opedaler from Northeast Nebraksa on 04/21/2019 03:41 AM
Sorry I accidently put an updated post in the wrong thread. Rather than repeat it, I'll just direct you there. The gist of it is......My wife does feel better with 32's on up, and agrees with Alex. For added comfort go up a notch from your 28s.....especially this year.


trail conditions-thorns??
 - 
dougt from Onawa, Ia on 08/28/2018 11:30 AM
I'm planning to ride from Norfolk to Valentine and back the week of Sept 17. Some earlier posts mentioned bad thorns between Ainsworth and Johnston. Is that still the case? Any other comments on trail conditions or lodging greatly appreciated.
I'm planning on staying in O'Neill, the Bunkhouse in Long Pine($35!!!) and Valentine on the trip both ways. Any recommendations on lodging in O'Neill and Valentine?

How secure is parking in Norfolk for 5-6 days?

HOPEFULLY someone will respond to this post!

 
Jeni on 08/30/2018 09:28 AM
re the thorns: I was advised that I'd be okay if I just stuck to the middle of the path in the areas where it was so bad.

The parking in Norfolk sounds great. A patrolled lot, pictures of your car and your expected return date are sent to local law enforcement.

Nothing on the lodging, but best of luck to you.

 
dougt from Onawa, Ia on 09/02/2018 09:51 AM
Thanks for your response!! Other than you, posting a question on this site is like shouting into an empty canyon! Do you know anything about the detour off the trail west of Neligh and how far one has to go on the highway before being able to get back to the trail?

 
Cynthya from Salina, Ks on 09/02/2018 01:28 PM
My experience of trail is a year back. We picked up plenty of thorns, but no flats. Just a front tire we ended up airing up everyday. About two miles out of Clearwater going east you get detoured to highway. No clear mark back to trail. We were told first turn to your right. Excluding turns into private property. Maybe three miles? They need to put up a sign for bikers to know the turn.

 
dougt from Onawa, Ia on 09/03/2018 10:42 AM
Thanks for your info Cynthia!

 
Jon Stuthman from norfolk on 03/04/2019 05:20 PM
Parking at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk is free and patrolled by local law enforcement, haven't had any issues in the last 4 years. Give me a call at North Fork Outfitting 402-316-0157 if you need anything else.

 
opedaler from Northeast Nebraska on 03/24/2019 04:37 PM
We have always used bikes with liners and seldom had any problems. The past couple of years we have used hard-case 28's (no liners) and have had zero problems. Having said that, many of my friends have complained about flats (they used no liners, and had older tires) so carry tubes, or repair kits just to be safe. I've carried them for years and maybe used them once, or maybe twice. I threaten to take them out so I have more room for more candy bars but sure as I do.......

 
opedaler from Northeast Nebraksa on 04/21/2019 03:36 AM
About 28"s.....My wife told me after seeing my response that she agrees with Alex. Although we do, she feels MUCH more comfortable on 32's on up. 90% of the time she feels fine, but to be comfortable ALL the time, she would recommend a bigger tire. Mountain bikes aren't usually necessary, but you will see a plethora of them on the trail. After the repairs this year, I would agree, bigger is better.

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