In Hitting the Trail: A Panoramic View, the Omaha World-Herald shines a spotlight on some of the best trails in their region:
Badger Ridge. Steamboat Trace. The Cowboy Trail. Pawnee Buttes. Vedauwoo.
The places are as colorful as the names. The outdoor experiences they offer are as varied as the land they cross.
These are a few of the memorable trails across the Midlands – from the loess hills of western Iowa to the river bluffs, prairies and buttes of Nebraska to the granite and pines hills of southeastern Wyoming. Not forgotten are hundreds of miles of concrete trails coursing in and out of communities from Council Bluffs to Scottsbluff.
Nebraska and Iowa – surprisingly to some – provide a multitude of opportunities for walking, hiking and cycling. Trails across this 500-mile region span a series of diverse ecological zones, from humid woodlands to arid high plains. Scenic rivers and trout streams lace the land. Hundreds of cold and clear Sand Hills lakes – many on public land – dot the map.
Some of the trails highlighted include:
- Cowboy Trail – 31 miles of trail will be added this year, connecting Norfolk and Valentine, for a total of 195 miles. This scenic trail includes two long railroad bridges. The longest is more than a quarter-mile long and 140 feet above the Niobrara River.
- Steamboat Trace – Trail follows the Missouri River valley. The 22-mile trail passes through Peru, low farmland and the tree-covered river bluffs along the Missouri. Popular hike-bike trail with access to excellent small-town eateries.
- Wabash Trace – Converted railroad right-of-way running over 60 miles through southwest Iowa countryside to Blanchard on the Iowa-Missouri border.
- Homestead Trail – Lincoln has about 60 miles of trail. They connect to the Homestead Trail, which will eventually connect to Beatrice. The Homestead Trail now runs 13 miles from Lincoln to Cortland. There is a 7-mile gap from Cortland to Pickrell. Six miles from Pickrell to Beatrice is complete. The trail will eventually stretch 60 miles from Lincoln to Marysville, Kansas.
- Indian Cave State Park – Horses share this hiking-biking favorite. The park offers 22-miles of rugged trails. The Ozark environment is home to a number of plants and bird species unique to southeastern Nebraska.
- Mo-Pac Trail – Lincoln’s longest trail continues 25 miles east to near Wabash.
- Platte River State Park – One of the best sites for hiking and mountain biking. “If you like adventure and don’t necessarily want marked trails, go to Owen Crossing and have at it,” said Carol Rosenow of the Omaha Hiking Club.
Learn more: Nebraska Bicycle Trails