Hit the TrailsJun 20, 2013 10:37AM ● By Bailey Hemphill
One of the state’s premier destinations for trail seekers is Chadron State Park, tucked into the northwest corner of Nebraska. Mountain bikers come from far and wide to ride what are considered to be the top single- and dual-track destinations in the nation.
If hiking is more your style, head to Toadstool Geologic Park north of Crawford, Neb. Here, you will discover an unexpected, lunar-like terrain that’s perfect for exploring. Or take in the natural beauty and winding trails of western Nebraska’s Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering, Neb. Here, trekkers will discover rocky buttes and picture-perfect wilderness virtually unaffected by the passing of time.
The eastern end of the state offers a bounty of outdoor adventure as well. Hikers and bikers alike will enjoy the Cowboy Trail between Norfolk and Chadron, the nation’s longest rail-to-trail project in progress. The trail’s signature sites are its long bridges that offer spectacular views.
For mountain bikers, the Steamboat Trace Hike/Bike Trail along the Missouri River or the more metropolitan MoPac Trail West in Lincoln are great choices for an invigorating excursion.
Despite being surrounded by nearly a million people, Bellevue’s Fontenelle Forest is a haven of deep solitude with 17 miles of walking trails. In North Omaha, Neale Woods Nature Center’s nine miles of trails weave through heavy forests, hilltop prairies, and riverside woodlands.
With a state park system that stretches from border to border, you don’t have to go far to find quality trails. Spend a weekend camping at Branched Oak Lake State Recreation Area or rent a cabin or teepee at Platte River State Park—parks near the metro that offer several hiking and biking trails. Indian Cave State Park is almost 30 minutes southeast of Nebraska City, Neb., and near the city of Shubert on the Missouri River. It’s a 3,052-acre region that’s ruggedly pristine and has 22 miles of hiking and biking trails.
Hundreds of trails are waiting for you to explore, so go to VisitNebraska.com to find one to tackle today. Or order the new Nebraska Bicycle Map at transportation.nebraska.gov.