The Great American Rail-Trail crosses from Iowa into Nebraska on the iconic Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge—a 3,000-foot cable-suspension structure over the Missouri River. The preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail in Nebraska weaves through the urban areas of Omaha and Lincoln, connecting these population centers to the western, more rural, part of the state along one of the longest and most famous rail-trails in the country—the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail.
From Rails to Trails Magazine’s Spring/Summer 2019 issue
In Honor and Remembrance: Fort Robinson State Park
The 3-mile White River Trail connects Crawford, Nebraska, to a 22,000-acre park that attracts many visitors to the northwestern corner of the state. Fort Robinson State Park is a recreational haven, offering stagecoach tours and weekly summertime rodeos, Jeep tours and bike trails. But its history, spanning from frontier days to post-World War II, is a major draw. The state park and museum note the U.S. Army fort’s numerous historical contributions, including the all-African American Ninth Cavalry that was headquartered at Fort Robinson from 1887 to 1898, as well as the fort’s history during World War II as both a K-9 training base and a POW camp.
The park also remembers tragic histories. The post that initially provided security for the Red Cloud Indian Agency is also the site of the 1879 Fort Robinson Massacre, when dozens of imprisoned Northern Cheyenne were killed following a mass escape effort. That took place about two years after Chief Crazy Horse’s 1877 imprisonment and death there. Visitors can now stand where he was killed and reflect.
The “Great American” Route Through Nebraska
RTC’s route analysis defines the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail through Nebraska as 594 miles and 51% complete—comprising 304.1 existing trail miles and 289.9 gap miles. The Great American will be hosted by 22 existing trails through the state. Click the links below to view full trail descriptions on TrailLink.com.
Trails Along the Route
• Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
• Burt Street Trail
• Turner Boulevard Trail
• Field Club Trail
• South Omaha Trail
• Keystone Trail
• West Papio Trail
• Walnut Creek Lake Trail
• MoPac Trail (Springfield)
• Platte River Connection
• MoPac East Trail
Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail
Nebraska’s Cowboy Trail offers an authentic Old West experience with friendly small towns and sweeping views of the High Plains and pristine prairie. At a whopping 219 miles, it’s already the third longest rail-trail in the country and yet has 100 more miles awaiting future development. With the stunning bridge over the Niobrara River and a wildlife-rich backdrop—including roaming bison, wild turkeys, elk and prairie dogs—this is a bucket-list trail for true adventurers.
Like you, we can’t wait to see the Great American Rail-Trail vision come to life—but we can’t do it alone.
Support at the state and local levels is critical to the trail’s success. Help us reach 1 million pledges for the Great American, showing the strength and solidarity of the trails community. This is America’s trail. Together, let’s make it a reality.
Completing the Great American Rail-Trail: Catalyst Initiatives in Nebraska
In every state along the preferred route of the Great American, needs for completing the trail vary. To spur trail completion, RTC has identified initial catalyst initiatives—projects or challenges that would most benefit from RTC’s national breadth of resources. (View the complete list of catalyst initiatives and criteria here.) Through these initiatives, RTC will support local and state partners, investing time, expertise and organizational resources in specific projects that are critical to the ultimate completion of the Great American Rail-Trail.
Great American Rail-Trail Gap #55: South Bend to Wabash (MoPac Trail Gap)
RTC will work with the local partnership, including Bike Walk Nebraska, the Nebraska Trails Foundation and the Great Plains Trail Network, pursuing strategies to complete this gap in the MoPac Trail—the last significant gap to complete a trail between Nebraska’s two population centers, Omaha and Lincoln. RTC will provide technical and planning assistance in the form of strategic planning; local-property owner engagement; alternative analysis; completing a feasibility study; cost estimation; and design, engineering and construction assistance.