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Nebraska Tour of the Great American Rail-Trail

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge | Photo by TrailLink user thejake91739

The Great American Rail-Trail® will be the nation’s first cross-country multiuse trail—a route that is entirely bikeable and separated from vehicle traffic across 3,700 miles between Washington State and Washington, D.C. Already, this cross-country route, a signature project of Rails to Trails Conservancy, is inspiring enthusiasm about trails in new and exciting ways. From the communities invigorated by the economic and local potential of the trail to the people who have embarked on the cross-country journey, people are celebrating the completed segments and drawing attention to the need to connect the route quickly so that its full potential can be realized.

Rails to Trails Conservancy is hosting a multi-day bicycle tour across two sections of the Great American Rail-Trail in Nebraska. The first two days of the tour will explore the route between Lincoln and Omaha Nebraska, while the final day takes us westward to the more rugged Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail.

Nebraska's Cowboy Trail | Photo courtesy Visit Norfolk Area Nebraska
Nebraska’s Cowboy Trail | Photo courtesy Visit Norfolk Area Nebraska

The tour will depart from Lincoln on September 24 and end in Norfolk on September 26. Each day, tour participants will have the opportunity to experience local gems; connect with local elected officials, business owners and leaders; and get to know each of the towns along the route in the most intimate way possible—from the seat of a bicycle. Highlights will include Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, with remarkable views of the Platte River Valley, the Lewis and Clark Trail National Park Service Headquarters, Omaha’s Gene Leahy Walking Mall at the Missouri River, the historic town of Neligh and the White Buffalo Girl’s grave.

This tour is appropriate for bicyclists of all skill levels with opportunities for shuttling as needed. Bicycles and helmets will be provided if needed.

All participants are expected to cover their travel and lodging costs. All meals and costs associated with tour activities will be paid for by Rails to Trails Conservancy. Daily rates can be provided for any participants who need to pay for their full costs.

Organizing Partners

Rails to Trails Conservancy color logo by RTC
Bike Walk Nebraska logo
Wheel & Sprocket logo
Great Plains Trail Network logo
Nebraska Trails Foundation logo

Daily Itinerary

Great American Rail-Trail Nebraska Tour Map

Sept. 230 Miles

Lincoln

RTC staff will be on site in Lincoln and welcome any early arrivals at an informal dinner!

Sept. 2427.4 miles 

Lincoln to Wabash

Riders need to arrive to Lincoln by 10 a.m. The tour will kick off with lunch at the Bike Walk Nebraska Summit. We’ll begin our journey with leaders working to connect trails, including the Great American Rail-Trail, from across the state. The ride continues along the MoPac Trail through Platte River Valley, with special stops hosted by the organizers of the famous MoPac Trail Pie Ride (hint … there will be pie!), happy hour at Grandpa’s Woods, and an evening event at the new Ashland Glamping Barn. Lodging Sept. 24 will be at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park with limited lodging available at the Glamping Barn.

Bonus! Those who arrive early may be interested in joining Team RTC in experiencing a local bike bus, helping students safely get to school by bike!

Sept. 2529.6 miles

South Bend to Omaha

On Day 2, riders will depart Eugene T. Mahoney State Park and enter the Greater Omaha area. Riders depart the state park over the Lied Platte River Bridge, following the river for the first few miles of the trip. Once we enter Omaha, we’ll explore the incredible Gene Leahy Walking Mall at the Missouri River and the Lewis and Clark National Park Service Headquarters, where we’ll cross state lines into Iowa and the Missouri River over the 3,000-foot-long Bob Kerrey Bridge heading into Council Bluffs, Iowa. Riders can depart on an evening flight if available or join an informal dinner in Omaha.

Sept. 26 – 27 (Optional Days)35.9 miles

Neligh to Norfolk

The Great American Rail-Trail experience heads west on the final days of the tour to explore the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail. This trail is a Gateway Trail of the Great American, making the route through the state possible, and a legacy rail-trail for the country—an early trail to be railbanked and among the longest in the country. Riders will depart from Omaha early to make the drive to Neligh where we will pay respects to the White Buffalo Girl, the Ponca child lost as the tribe was forced to leave their homeland in the late 19th century. The day will conclude in Norfolk with an informal dinner. The shuttle will depart for the airport early on Sept. 27 and flights out of Omaha after 11:30 a.m. are  recommended.

Photo Gallery

MoPac East Trail & MoPac Trail West

Horse trail along Nebraska's MoPac Trail | Photo by Kathy Newberg, courtesy Nebraska Horse Trails Committee
Horse trail along Nebraska’s MoPac Trail | Photo by Kathy Newberg, courtesy Nebraska Horse Trails Committee
Nebraska's MoPac Trail (Springfield) | Photo by TrailLink user gstaroscik_tl
Nebraska’s MoPac Trail (Springfield) | Photo by TrailLink user gstaroscik_tl
MoPac Trail East in Nebraska | Courtesy Market to Market Relay
MoPac Trail East in Nebraska | Courtesy Market to Market Relay
MoPac Trail East in Nebraska | Courtesy Market to Market Relay
MoPac Trail East in Nebraska | Courtesy Market to Market Relay
Mopac Trail West | Photo courtesy Market to Market Relay
Mopac Trail West | Photo courtesy Market to Market Relay

Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail

The Cowboy Trail offers some of Nebraska’s best scenery: native prairie, grass-covered dunes and lush river valleys. It traverses more than 200 bridges, including the stunning Niobrara River Valley crossing. Photo by Eric Foster.
The Cowboy Trail offers some of Nebraska’s best scenery: native prairie, grass-covered dunes and lush river valleys. It traverses more than 200 bridges, including the stunning Niobrara River Valley crossing. Photo by Eric Foster.
Nebraska's Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail | Photo by TrailLink user marty_watts
Nebraska’s Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail | Photo by TrailLink user marty_watts
Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail | Photo by Alex Duryea, courtesy Nebraska Tourism Commission
Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail | Photo by Alex Duryea, courtesy Nebraska Tourism Commission
Nebrask's Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail | Photo by TrailLink user lisa.jarnigan
Nebrask’s Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail | Photo by TrailLink user lisa.jarnigan
Nebraska's Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail | Photo by Scott Bohaty
Nebraska’s Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail | Photo by Scott Bohaty

Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge

Iowa's Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge | Photo by TrailLink user thejake91739
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge | Photo by TrailLink user thejake91739
Nebraska's Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge | Photo courtesy Visit Omaha
Nebraska’s Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge | Photo courtesy Visit Omaha
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska | Photo by Matthew Nissen
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska | Photo by Matthew Nissen
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, part of the Great American Rail-Trail | Photo courtesy Visit Omaha
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, part of the Great American Rail-Trail | Photo courtesy Visit Omaha

More About the Route