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Trail Conditions
Rob from Lincoln on 05/08/2012 04:46 PM
We're taking a ride from Atkinson to Valentine and back next Friday. Can anyone comment on the trail conditions on that stretch?

Abby from Fort Collins,CO on 05/15/2012 03:47 PM
Did you hear anything back? We aren't riding until June but would like to see more discussion on the forum!

David @Colorado from Denver on 05/16/2012 10:27 PM
I delayed a planned Cowboy Trail trip for another year - going to do the Allegheny, C&O Canal Trail instead. No progress on trail repairs, no progress on trail extension, and poor reports on trail maintenance.

Rob from Lincoln on 05/21/2012 11:51 AM
Hi Abby,
Just got back from the ride. We started in Stuart and rode to Valentine. 85 miles each way. The limestone is a little thick due to minimal traffic but not unrideable by any means, however, there has been some cattle and horse traffic so some of the stretches were bumpy for around 100 yards in a few spots. One stretch just north of Johnstown was so bad I had to walk my bike for about a 1/4 of a mile because the trail was so rough. I jumped on highway 20 after that all the way to Valentine. A friend continued on the trail and said he came across a lot of washboards up to around 6 miles south of Valentine.

On the way back I took highway 20 until Basset and was much better. Minimal hills for a few miles but flat the rest with good shoulders. You could take highway 20 all the way to O'Neill with minimal hills and still have a good ride, or hop on the trail for a change of pace, but highway seemed faster and more comfortable in the long run. We had several flats primarily south and north of Ainsworth with thorns and one or two on the rest of the trail also, but highway we had no flats.

Regardless, the scenery was great and we'll definitely be doing it again next year. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Anonymous on 05/22/2012 10:19 AM
Thanks so much! It helps a lot. We'll be traveling with 2 kids, the 11year old will ride her own bike (she is very experienced but still only 11!!) and 8 yr old on a tandem. How was the traffic on 20? We've decided to take a car as a sag since we are also bringing our dog (and heaven forbid she should get hot :)). So I figure we can always shuttle the kids past a bad part. Just my husband and I are planning to do the GAP/C&O the end of September.

Anonymous on 05/22/2012 03:52 PM
The traffic on 20 was fairly busy. Quite a few semis. Not sure I'd take a child on the shoulder. I would stick to the trail. I would say about 70% of the trail was parallel with highway 20 so getting off the highway to the trail was pretty easy. Where were you going to start and finish?

Anonymous on 05/23/2012 10:16 PM
We are going to start in Valentine and finish around Neligh or wherever we end up. We are going to leave a car at the police station there. Since we are taking a sag wagon this time it seems pretty easy. I've never done a ride with any kind of support. This will probably lead to overpacking. :) Thanks for the traffic info. She was a trooper last year riding with logging trucks in Idaho but it took a few years off my life!!!

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Current Trail Conditions and Re-opening
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission from Lincoln, Nebraska on 06/03/2011 10:33 AM
Thanks everyone for your interest in the Cowboy Trail. Here at Game and Parks Commission, we just learned this site existed so sorry for the delay on getting responses back about current trail conditions.

The following press release is set to go out today and should answer most of the inquiries. If any questions still exist, feel free to shoot an email directly over or post a follow up here. Thanks again.

Cowboy Trail Re-Opened from Norfolk to Valentine!
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recently re-opened 68 miles of the Cowboy Trail, which was damaged in the June 2010 flood of the Elkhorn River. Approximately 72 miles of trail, from Norfolk to O’Neill, were closed and multiple bridges damaged from the event. Three areas of the trail remain closed due to safety concerns, but alternate routes have been designated around those segments. The alternate routes take users on street, so the rules of the road apply. Cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians should stay alert when using the designated alternate routes. The map of the trail, including the alternate routes may be found at: Users may encounter rough surfacing in some locations, but the trail is still passable. Those areas of rough surfacing have been identified on the map.

A new bridge is being designed to replace the old Railroad Bridge along with a wash out of the trail near Norfolk and is expected to be completed by spring of 2012. Trail surfacing repair to 11.5 miles of trail from Norfolk to Neligh will occur by the end of fall of 2011. An additional 12 miles of trail from Neligh to O’Neill and replacement of a bridge near Ewing are slated to be completed by fall of 2012. Funding for these projects will be from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Recreational Trails Program of the Federal Highway Administration and the Cowboy Trail Maintenance Cash Fund from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Pat from Lincoln, Ne on 04/02/2012 05:56 PM
It is April 2012 and I didn't see any evidence of "trail surfacing repair" on the trail between Norfolk and Oakdale. The trail is not crushed limestone and is very soft and looks like repairs were done with sand. Tough cycling. There is damage from farm and livestock use. On the trail website nothing is noted about the bridge not being completed and no explanation of where to access the trail.
It would have been so lovely to have the expected "Rails to Trails" surface that I find on the Katy, the East Mopac, the Homestead, Wabash, Jamaica and other Rails to Trails in surrounding states.
Is there a volunteer group that could help maintain the trail?

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Observations about the Trail and this Website
Barry from Minneapolis on 06/28/2011 05:11 PM
We tried to do the trail starting June 19 in Valentine, but after 2 days called it because of pouring rain, hail and tornado warnings. These things happen, so that's not a gripe about the trail. We made it about 80 miles before being rained out.

But the trail, at least the parts we were on, has "issues". I have ridden hundreds of miles of "rails to trails" in the last few years. Crushed limestone is a good surface material for these kinds of trails, even in wet weather. But the Cowboy trail is not crushed limestone - it is small gravel (not "crushed gravel" as stated on this site)that, especially when wet, your wheels sink in and it feels like you're riding in 2 inches of peanut butter. We were doing 7mph on the trail and, when we switched to the road, were doing 13 mph - that's just not an acceptable variation - we quickly made the trip a road trip, which was fine, but not why we came, we wanted a trail ride. Even when dry, there was a significant speed loss on the trail, way more than with limestone. I think this was a pretty significant design flaw when they built this trail.

The trail is supposed to be off limits to vehicles, but at least on the 80 miles we covered, there were some adjacent ranchers that apparently used the trail like farm roads, which created a lot of ruts and washboarding in the trail, again we had to switch to the road to move at more than a couple of mph.

The Cowboy Trail is through pretty country but the part we were on was almost entirely right next to the highway, useful since we ended up riding most of the way on the highway, but it would have been nice to have the trail farther away on occasion.

Finally, a comment about this site. It fails to note a lot of facilities along the trail. Ainsworth in particular shows no facilities on this site, but it is one of the larger towns on the Trail, with several large chain motels and a number of restaurants, bars and other facilities. I'm not sure if this

Pat from Lincoln, Ne on 04/02/2012 05:46 PM
I agree with your write up of your ride last June. I rode from Norfolk to Oakdale in March and was so disappointed in the trail. Yes, not limestone and lots of sand. I was creeping along at 7 miles an hour on my Fargo with 2.2 tires. Lots of livestock and tire tracks on the trail. I was hoping the trail was in better shape around Valentine and LongPine but it doesn't sound like it.

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Fees, Permits?
Tom from Mammoth Hot Springs, WY on 02/21/2012 12:27 AM
Are there any fees or permits needed to use the Cowboy Trail?

Russ from Indiana on 04/01/2012 11:50 PM
No fees or permits to ride the trail. If you plan on camping, you might have fees. Neligh has a $5 fee for the city park but Battle Creek has no fee for their park. You can ask at other places.

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Trail condition
Bike Guy from Yankton,SD on 08/17/2011 03:45 PM
Rode from Battle Creek to Tilden yesterday(8-16-11)Trail condition is terrible. sand 3" deep many places,deep holes and overall not a good experience.

Russ from Indiana on 08/19/2011 11:43 PM
Thanks for the comment on the trail. I heard the bridge was out between Norfolk and Battle Creek. My plans were to ride the trail in late September pulling a Burley Bugger. Any suggestions?

Pat from Lincoln, Ne on 03/31/2012 04:08 PM
Yes, from Battle Creek to Tilden still as of 3/24/12 pretty rough trail with sand and holes. But still fun and a hard workout. :) The bridge is also still out between Norfolk and Battle Creek. I wandered around for quite a while and did find the way back to the trail. I should have asked someone before starting the ride. It is a short ride on the paved road to a place where I could access the trail. Rough trail but a good ride.

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Peppermill Steakhouse in Valentine
RNJ from Valentine, NE on 01/17/2012 06:15 PM
The Peppermill is now known as the Peppermill Restaurant and E.K. Valentine Lounge. It has moved to 502 East Highway 20 in Valentine.


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Anonymous on 11/10/2011 12:58 PM
Noticed some errors on this website in regards to the attractions in O'Neill:
Yum Yum Chinese doesnt exist in O'Neill (I have lived here almost all my life and never even heard of that restaurant.) & unfortunatly the Lil Irish Billiards closed down. Sun Mart is now called Super Foods...just so ya know.

Russ from Indiana on 11/15/2011 12:01 AM
You're correct about things on the trail. The state of Nebraska needs to have an intern or somebody update this website or another site. While I only went to Neleigh, the Fountain Cafe has been closed for five years. Daddy's Cafe is open but not listed. Tilly's convenience store in Battle Creek has an ATM machine but tha'ts not listed. There's a need to attract more riders and tourists but the updated information is not there. Great people. I think I'll be back next year and ride more.

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Tagged: O'Neill

Russ from Indiana on 11/05/2011 12:14 AM
Rode the Cowboy trail for two days from Battle Creek to Neiligh and back. Camped at the City park in Battle Creek and Neleigh in late September. Great places. If the restrooms aren't open in Battle Creek, a person might go to the Police Department at City Hall and ask them to unlock them. Also, Tilly's convenience store has an ATM when needed. Temps at night were in the 30s but had a good time.

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Wood Lake
Bob from Bellevue,NE on 10/04/2011 06:52 PM
It's not listed but there is a wonderful campground here right on the trail! There is a modern bathroom and electricity. Sign the guest book and leave a donation. I spent a very nice evening there.

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Tagged: Wood Lake

Ted from Grand Island,Ne on 06/20/2011 06:26 AM
I have never done a trail this long and also recently had my bike stolen. So I plan on getting a new bike and all new packs for it. I was wondering what kind of gear I would need for a ride from Norfolk to Valentine and back and also what kind of packs I would need to store it all. I plan on taking no more than 9 days riding. I plan on camping in the city parks. So like food, water, camping stuff, firstaid..etc. If someone could give me a rough list of the easiest/smallest stuff I could use for the trip I would appreciate it.

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Cowboy Trail trip, the whole story
Jimmy P from Omaha on 06/13/2011 10:49 PM
Cowboy Trail, June 9 – 11, 2011
Started out at the Trailhead in Norfolk, just south of Hwy 275 on Hwy 81 on June 9 at about 10:00 am. I rode a Giant Iguana mountain bike. I have never ridden more than 30 miles in a day, but I have been riding regularly 2-3 times a week since March. My Dad rode a Raleigh touring bike. He is an experienced commuter and road cyclist and had finished BRAN in 2010. Our Logistician (my grandfather) pulled a camper to each of our planned overnight stops, and we ended each day with a few stories and a hot meal.

Temperature at the start was 55-F, winds out of the northwest at about 5-10 mph. Overcast skies with rain showers and thunderstorms scattered in the area.

The trail closure just west of Norfolk was well-marked, and the detour was a paved county road.

Stopped in Battle Creek as the first BRAN riders were heading in. Waited out a thunderstorm at a filling station over coffee and snack cakes. Continued back on the trail as the rain eased and the lightning stopped. Despite the moderate rain, the trail was firm and comfortable.

Stopped for lunch at the Sportsman’s Bar west of Meadow Grove. Go for the lunch buffet. This stop required less than 1 mile on Hwy 275 out of Meadow Grove.

After lunch, we continued past Tilden and Oakdale on the trail. Our water supply was adequate, so we did not look for water at either town.

Stopped for water at the Neligh City Park. The trail west of Neligh was becoming increasingly “soft,” as we were preceded by heavier rains than we saw in Battle Creek. High amounts of gravel and a soft base resulted in enough rutting to put us to work. Don't worry, we didn't hurt the trail any.

The trail closure east of Clearwater was not marked. It was evident by the lack of trail. It became completely washed out…and we could see the bridge out a couple hundred yards ahead. The closest detour was an unimproved county road heading north about 250 yards to Hwy 275. It was

Jimmy P from Omaha on 06/13/2011 10:51 PM
It was 1-3 inches of thick mud, which we tried unsuccessfully to ride. My bike was so full of mud that we were forced to ride Hwy 275 into Clearwater and wash off at a filling station (the hose out back). Miserable but pretty fun at the same time.

The rain increased to a heavy downpour, so we continued on Hwy 275 to Ewing. This was our first overnight stop, and we camped at the City Park (water, electric and dump station, no restrooms). We had planned to make 10 mph on the trail, but arrived over an hour past schedule due to the weather and trail conditions. Our logistician had the camper heated and the grill going which was a welcome sight.

June 10.
Overnight was cloudy and cool, but no rain. At dawn, the temperature was about 50o F with overcast skies, winds still northwest at about 5 mph. We decided to rejoin the trail, heading out at 7:15 am, but quickly found it too soft to ride, and continued west on Hwy 275 about 3 miles west of Ewing.

We passed Inman on the highway without needing water or supplies.

We stopped for coffee and snacks in O’Neill. The cloud ceiling began to scatter out, but the highway shoulders still held water so we stayed off the trail until Atkinson. We passed Emmet without stopping there because it was a bit south of the highway, as was the trail.

In Atkinson, we ate lunch at a restaurant downtown, I don’t remember the name, although “Hunter’s Welcome” was their claim. Pretty decent burgers.

Weather now was partly cloudy and the temperature was approaching 70oF, so we rejoined the trail in hopes that it had firmed up throughout the morning.

From Atkinson to Bassett, the trail was in good condition. Though at times, the gravel was deep enough to cause steering problems (a runner’s delight), it was still very good overall. We stopped at the City Park in Stuart for water, though it was on the north side of town, still not too far a ride.

Stopped for water at Grandma’s Park in Newport:

Jimmy P from Omaha on 06/13/2011 10:51 PM
: A small park which we didn’t even notice until a local resident pointed it out, and features only water and a picnic table. The Spring Valley Park was south of town along Hwy 20, which we were not inclined to visit on account of its distance from the trail.

Stopped for the night at the City Park in Bassett. Now, the “Cowboy Trail Park” in downtown Bassett is nothing more than an empty lot with a water pump and camper electricity behind a warehouse near the creamery. People in town didn’t even know about it. It is close to the trail, but you’d miss it if you didn’t know it was there. The City Park, however, was on the south end of town along the highway, and had water, restrooms and showers available. No dump station for campers.

June 11.
Overcast skies, temperature about 50o F, calm winds. The trail from Bassett to Ainsworth was the best condition for cycling along the entire trail. Long Pine Creek was beautiful. Ainsworth to Johnstown, rough trail (from livestock movement) forced us to ride considerably slower, and we eventually picked up the highway into Johnstown. The City Park had water and a table, which was convenient while I fixed a flat.

To make up time from the flat, and allow us to sit down for lunch at Wood Lake, we continued on Hwy 20 into Wood Lake. Lunch at the Wood Lake Cafe (delicious), fixed another flat. Could have been sand burrs, I don’t know, and I haven’t looked closely yet at the tubes to see. We picked up the trail out of Wood Lake on principle, and continued toward Valentine. We had stiff winds from the southeast at 20 mph, which helped our mood. We knew there would not be water at Arabia, so we carried another 2 quarts at the day’s start in preparation for the Wood Lake to Valentine leg.

Jimmy P from Omaha on 06/13/2011 10:52 PM
Because we came to ride the Cowboy Trail, not the highway which is sometimes near the Cowboy Trail, we tolerated very rough trail conditions toward Valentine, especially west of the Arabia Ranch. Very heavy ranch use, including large numbers of horses, cattle, pickups and ATVs, had damaged the trail. Some heavy equipment had rippled the surface at points and displaced the gravel into rows and mounds. The posts which blocked vehicle traffic were removed on portions of the trail east of Valentine, and we paid dearly for the poor conditions, in terms of slow travel and high pain. Our reward was the most beautiful tour of the Sandhills one could hope for, with sights the highway cannot reveal. Wildlife was prevalent with marshy conditions along the trailside, about every kind animal that lives in the Sandhills was close by.

195 miles in 3 days. Maybe next time we’ll take 4 days.

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Trail near Wood Lake
a from a on 03/12/2011 10:13 PM
From past to current date, 3/12/2011 seven or more dead livestock (cattle and goats) in various states of decay are next to the trail at this date, near an adjacent livestock operation within the city limits. This is just west of main street before the old rail road bridge on the north side of trail near and around hay bales and pens within 15 or so feet of the trail.

Jimmy P from Omaha on 06/13/2011 10:38 PM
Those creatures were not present on 6/11/2011.

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Tagged: Wood Lake

Super 8 Motel in O'Neill
Jason from Papillion, NE on 06/12/2011 12:34 PM
Stayed here one night in June 2011. No laundry room and hot tub was closed. Didn't have a reservation so I got a smelly smoking room. Otherwise an okay hotel. Next to a truck stop.

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Stuart Village Inn in Stuart
Jason from Papillion, NE on 06/12/2011 12:32 PM
Stayed here one night in June 2011. Adequate hotel room. Checked in and out at the convenience store next door.

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Norfolk to Valentine
Dave from Lincoln on 06/09/2011 12:32 PM
I plan to start Monday from Norfolk.. Did the trail about three years ago and had a great time. Pulling a BOB trailer....just like the pioneers only alittle faster. Camping in city parks. Where's a good place in Norfolk to park my truck for the week?

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Riding the trail
Craig Hamnett from Manchester, UK on 06/08/2011 12:02 AM
Currently shacked up/escaping the heat in Norfolk and I'm going to be riding the trail over the next 2 days, stopping at O'Neill in between.

I shall endevour to report back on the trails current condition once I get to Valentine.

I'm doing this as part of my ride across America - feel free to join me if you fancy doing some riding!


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volunteer help
Gary Redinger from Caledonia, Missouri on 06/05/2011 10:52 AM
From the amount of trail damage it sounds like you should form a volunteer organization like the Ozark Trail assn.
and the Highland trail assn.
to help build and maintain your Nebraska trails.

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Steve Iskovitz from Pittsburgh on 05/30/2011 10:31 PM
Hey, where is everyone? I'm thinking of riding the trail later in June. Are there any changes I should know about? Has there been much traffic on it lately, or have people been hiding out from all the storms?

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trail condition
jerry from fremont on 04/08/2011 09:08 AM
Can anyone tell me if the trail is rideable from norfollk to o'neill?

Sayre from Bensalem, PA on 05/19/2011 09:53 PM
My sister lives in Norfolk and bikes the trail regularly but there is a bridge that was washed out a few miles out of Norfolk on the way to O'Neill which will probably cause you some problems. Not sure why they don't have anything posted about this on the website...

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Kids and trail
Janie from Fort Collins on 05/03/2011 07:39 PM
We are looking for a trail ride to do with a 7 and 10 year old. Love the Katy Trail but looking for something closer to home. (CO). How is the surface looking for this year? Really soft is not appealing. How far from the highway is the trail? Thanks for any help!

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parking @ Ainsworth
K .Jordan from Platte City on 04/18/2011 01:34 PM
Can we park @ Ainsworth and ride to Valentine- leave the car locked up for a couple of days (and return within 3 days)

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Mule Ride
Amy Nagler from Laramie, Wyoming on 03/20/2011 05:08 PM
I'd love to ride my mules along the Cowboy trail. Is the whole trail open to equines? Are some parts of the trail more equine friendly? What about camping or boarding spots?

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catching a return ride to our vehicle
Anonymous from Kansas on 07/24/2010 04:13 PM
If we came up to bike the trail and needed a return ride back to Norfolk is there some type of transportation available from the towns along the way? Maybe a bus? We are not sure how far we'll go before we want to go back.

Anonymous from Kansas on 07/24/2010 04:17 PM
I checked out the rest of the forum. Who is Mary Bott in Stuart and what does she charge for a return trip? Thanks,

Anonymous on 07/31/2010 01:01 AM
My friends and I just finished the ride today, we drove a vehicle to the YMCA in Norfolk Mary met us there and drove us to Valentine, and then we rode back to Norfolk in 4 days. The first 15 miles of the trail from Valentine are the most scenic, after that the trail gets soft. We did most of the ride back to Norfolk on US20 and 275.

Tom from Kansas City on 08/02/2010 08:59 PM
Contact Mary Bott in Stuart. She will pick you up and drop you off anywhere on the trail. She picked us up in Norfolk and dropped us off in Valentine. She charges $1 per mile


Steve Iskovitz from Pittsburgh on 03/12/2011 12:59 AM
I was thinking of riding the Katy Trail in Missouri and then the Cowboy Trail. If I double back a bit to Sedalia, MO, I can catch a train to KC, but how to get from KC to Norfolk?

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Tom from Kansas City on 08/02/2010 09:03 PM
The Trade Winds motel is fantastic? Very clean, modern and located across the hwy from the trail. I highly recommend it

Kathryn from Omaha, Nebraska on 12/30/2010 07:18 PM
Where is the Trade Winds motel located? Valentine? Can you recommend any other B&B's or motels along the Cowboy Trail?

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Tagged: Valentine website problems
Dean Wisleder from Springfield, Illinois on 11/16/2010 09:48 PM
Is there an email address and/or phone number I can use to report problems with this website? A phone number is preferred. Thanks.

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Bridge Crossings
Alf # 2 from Council Bluffs, Iowa on 04/29/2010 04:08 PM
Am planning on riding the Cowboy Trail this year. Was wondering if riding a tri-cumbent would be possible? The width is 31.5 inches. HELP!

Ric from Omaha on 05/20/2010 11:25 AM
Yes, a trike is fine on the trail, and there is very little traffic. Worst part is the darn posts keeping vehicles off the trail at all intersections. They are fine for regular bikes, but tight even for my Tour Easy recumbent...a trike would really be tight...but then you can go a bit slower and not fall over.

Bob from Bellevue on 10/29/2010 11:51 PM
The barriers at the high bridge at Long Pine are the narrowest I have found and I had to lift my 3 wheeler recumbent over them. Worth it for the view from there tho.

Dean Wisleder from Springfield on 11/16/2010 09:39 PM
Interesting that there are other tricycle riders. I hope to ride the trail from Norfolk to Valentine and back in 2011 on my LoGo recumbent trike. I have a choice of pulling my camping gear in a two-wheel trailer or loaded on the trike's rear rack. Any thoughts on which is the better choice considering the narrow trail spots?

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optional camping
arialupo from Tulsa, OK on 03/12/2010 12:04 AM
Your web site looks wonderful. I will certainly
try to ride the cowboy trail.
I was wandering about the camp spots and if
there were any to accomandate a small pop up
camper? I've done the Katy trail three times
and each time I had a great time. I'm looking
forward to riding the cowboy trail.

PS I added your web site to favorites.

Ray (webmaster) on 03/16/2010 08:32 AM
Thanks for the compliments, I'm glad that you found the website to be helpful!

Honestly I am not sure about all the details on the campgrounds. In general, the city parks will only accommodate tents, while the state parks and commercial campgrounds will handle popup trailers and bigger things. But that's just a generalization - I would suggest calling them in advance to be sure.

Eventually I plan to have more details about the campgrounds and other businesses - if anyone has any details about any trail businesses that you think would be helpful, feel free to go to the page for that business within this website and add your comments at the bottom (or just let me know).

Happy trails!

Bob from Bellevue on 10/30/2010 12:02 AM
I have taken my small travel trailer over the entire route and checked every possible camping location along the trail. I am building a tent camper to pull behind my bike for a spring 2011 trip. I will try to add this info to your wonderful website as soon as I can. Thanks for this great resource.

Dean Wisleder from Springfield, Illinois on 11/16/2010 09:33 PM
Bob, I'm confused. How does one take a small travel trailer "over the entire route" of a bike/hike/horse trail?

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Flooding along the trail
Traci from Norfolk on 06/15/2010 01:17 PM
With the recent heavy rains, there's been a lot of flooding issues for many of the communities along the trail.

Here in Norfolk at the very beginning of the trailhead we have flooding problems from the Elkhorn river.

If you're planning a ride/hike in the near future, check ahead for flooding conditions since so much of the trail runs along the river. You'll also want to be aware that the trail condition will be somewhat deteriorated from runoff.

Traci from Norfolk on 06/17/2010 11:13 PM
Okay, now I'm sad. The water is receeding but part of the Broken Bridge has collapsed. They say the total damage to the trail is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not sure just how much damage there is further upstate, but I'm sure it's significant.

Kyle Anderson from Bolivar, Mo. on 06/18/2010 04:56 AM
Can anyone give me some idea what the trail condition is like between Valentine and Oneill? I'm planning on riding that section of trail July 1 weekend. I planned on doing the entire trail but the recent flooding I doubt I'll try from Oneill on to Norfolk.

Todd Macken from Platte Center, NE on 08/26/2010 09:37 AM
I would like to know, if the trail has been reconstructed and fixed yet? Because, I am looking at doing a fund raiser, and have individuals or groups get a sponsor to donate a dollar a mile for every mile they ride (or whatever amount they want to donate per mile). I would like to do something next spring or fall.

bike rider from tilden on 09/09/2010 10:31 AM
rode from tilden to clearwater labor day weekend 2010...ok from tilden to oakdale..from oakdale to neligh they have trail closed but bridges and trail are intact and ridable..from neligh to clearwater there is a bridge out couple miles east of clearwater that goes over elkhorn river. can take country road north 1/4 mile to hwy 275 then west over river and then south on country road and get back onto trail and on into clearwater

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shuttle back to start of trail?
Kyle Anderson from Bolivar, MO...grew up in Butte, NE. on 04/21/2010 04:05 PM
I want to do this trail later this summer since I grew up in northern Nebraska and I'm familiar with areas. This is probably impossible or a stupid question but wondering if there was anyone that has contacts with someone in Valentine, NE. or Norfolk, NE. if a person started the trail from one end to the other and left your car at the beginning and could get a way to get shuttled back to your car with your bike?

Traci from Norfolk on 06/14/2010 04:44 PM
I guess you would have to know someone. There's no "official" shuttle service for the CT.

Tom Martens on 06/15/2010 04:07 PM
Contact Mary Bott in Stuart. She will pick you up and drop you off anywhere on the trail


Ray on 07/28/2010 02:36 PM
Panda Transporation in Valentine provides shuttle services for the trail: 402-376-1313

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Trail closure
Tom Martens from Kansas City on 06/30/2010 03:23 PM
The Cowboy trail is closed between O'Neil and Norfolk, due to flooding.
Does anyone know what hwy 275 is like? Hilly? Flat? Shoulder?
Is it feasable to ride this road?

Traci from Norfolk on 07/06/2010 05:06 PM
Highway 275 is, for the most part, fairly flat. The flood waters have subsided, but soft shoulder areas are slightly eroded. To be honest, a lot of people ride the highway shoulder - especially from Tilden to Neligh - because the trail is kind of soft. The shoulder is a hard shoulder through this area and safe to ride. Not very scenic though.

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Nebr.Trails Council flooding pics
Marilyn Woerth from Brownville, NE on 06/28/2010 01:56 PM
Hi there Cowboy Trail fans there are some pictures of the flooding on the Nebraska Trails Council Facebook page. Also if you would like to be in the link of any email blitzes the Nebraska Trails Council sends out send your name and email to

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scenic areas
Kathy Dobb from Shawnee, Kansas on 05/17/2010 09:17 AM
We are planning to try the Cowboy Trail this summer. We love the Katy Trail and have gone there several times. Are there some areas along the Cowboy Trail that are more scenic than others? Is the trail chat like the Katy? Is there a guidebook about the trail that we could order?

Ric from Omaha on 05/20/2010 11:14 AM
I have ridden the CT from Norfolk to Atkinson numerous times...kind of. Only about 10% of the trail in this section is away from Hwy 275/20 and scenic. The other 90% runs adjacent to the Hwys so I ride on the Hwy shoulder which is very nice. The trail gets to be somewhat soft west of Tilden, so it's a struggle with my 1 1/8" road tires. No guide book I am aware of. All the towns along the way have places to camp and eat, but nothing real fancy. Norfolk/Neligh/O'Neill are slightly bigger towns. Trail chat???...probably not.

T Martens from Lees Summit, MO on 06/08/2010 03:17 PM
Nebraska Cowboy Trail A users guide
by Keith Terry

Hiram from Knoxville on 06/08/2010 04:59 PM
We rode last summer from newport to Neligh in two days. We found the trail to be very soft almost the whole way. We easily ride 10-12 mph on the katy, but struggled to go much above 6-8 mph on the Cowboy. With two panniers my mountain bike sunk into the ground about an inch on average. The locals we tlaked to said that most riders they saw wee using the highway shoulder rather than riding the trail itself. It seemed to us that the contractor that the state was using for trail construction had not done any compaction work after laying down the trail bed.

I'd get the trail guide to pick your route, its pretty clear about which sections are next to the highway and which are away from it.

The section jut east of newport was the prettiest we rode thru. We stayed at the Golden Hotel and loved it.

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July ride
Tom from Kansas City on 03/29/2010 08:01 PM
Hi, I am an avid Katy rider and I am looking to try ride the Cowboy this summer. How is the grade of this trail? Lot's of hills or is it more gradual like the Katy?
Also, is water pretty abundant?

Ray (webmaster) on 04/05/2010 10:08 PM
It's fairly flat, since it was originally a railroad route. There is a slow staedy climb as you head west. Check out the elevation chart.

Ric from Omaha on 05/20/2010 11:29 AM
Grade is pretty much coasting ever, at least on the Norfolk to Atkinson stretch. Abundant water? each town. (about every 10 miles), otherwise it crosses the Elkhorn river a few times.

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dave from murphys ca on 04/29/2010 06:53 PM
is it better to from Valentine to norfolk? I see it is downhill, and the winds are usually from the west are they not?? will you answer this using MY email address so I can see the answer??

Ric from Omaha on 05/20/2010 11:21 AM
Have only run Norfolk to Atkinson.

Downhill west to east, but it is so gradual, you would not notice it on the CT. Winds can be an issue and can be from several directions...North in the winter, South/Southwest, and even Southeast in the summer. They quite often are 20-30mph and above, so if you're lucky, they will be at your back. Good luck there.

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expanding Eastward?
John Mead from Originally AInsworth Nebraska on 05/08/2010 02:36 AM
I know the Chicago North Western ran from Omaha (at Least) and was wondering if they were planning on extending it further east from Norfolk? Coming From Missouri I would like to get the easiest and safest route to Ainsworth.

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Spring time
Anonymous on 04/05/2010 10:00 PM
Quick, get out and enjoy the trail!

Anonymous on 04/05/2010 10:05 PM

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