Hike & Go Seek! The Rail Trail – Nebraska

Cowboy Trail Norfolk Elkhorn River xing damaged 4.JPG

The Cowboy Trail is a rail trail in northern Nebraska. It is a multi-use recreational trail suitable for bicycling, walking and horseback riding. It occupies an abandoned Chicago and North Western Railway corridor. When complete, the trail will run from Chadron to Norfolk, a length of 321 miles, making it the longest rails-to-trails conversion in the United States. It is Nebraska’s first state recreational trail. The trail runs across the Outback area of Nebraska.

Long trestle bridge; twelve trestle pillars

Trailheads are located in Valentine and Norfolk. Completed sections of the trail are crushed limestone. There are 221 bridges on the trail; all bridges have been converted for recreational use. The bridge across the Niobrara River east of Valentine is a quarter-mile long (400 m) and 148 feet (45 m) high; the bridge across Long Pine Creek at Long Pine is 595 feet (181 m) long and 145 feet (44 m) high.

The trail parallels US 20 and US 275 for almost its entire length. A variety of landscapes are found along the trail: the Pine Ridge, the Sandhills, and the valleys of the Niobrara River, Long Pine Creek and the Elkhorn River.

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