Looking for the best trails around Columbus?

Explore the best rated trails in Columbus, NE. Whether you're looking for an easy walking trail or a bike trail like the Jack Sutton Drive and Ridge Road Trail . With more than 17 trails covering 3988 miles you're bound to find a perfect trail for you. Click on any trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.

Recent Trail Reviews

Great American Rail-Trail

Great Allegheny Trail southeast of Pittsburgh?

April, 2023 by eshawger

Surprised to see this amazing trail that has great bed and breakfasts along it is not noted as part of the Great American Rail Trail. It sure would help demonstrate more GART completion if it was.

Pawnee Park Trail

Great Park trail - Good connection toward downtown Columbus

March, 2023 by joelripke

The Pawnee Park trail is a good quality concrete trail in Pawnee Park. It connects through the park with many rest, relaxation, and recreation opportunities.

The east terminus of the trail is at 26th avenue, a short little walk, run, or bike into downtown Columbus!

Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail

Don't bother

August, 2022 by davidshuey

I had an outfitter drop me off in Ewing so I could ride 50 miles back to Norfolk. (wind coming dirctly from the east in my face...my bad). I encountered two bridge washouts. One had a detour sign to leave the trail but no sign on how or when to get back on. The second east of Neligh had no sign and no warning causing a 2 mile double back. There was also a trail washout section again with no warning. The other issue that made this ride less than ideal was that they had laid down about 20 miles of new pea gravel but had not tampted or rolled it so it was like riding in sand. The local big industrial farmers use this trail as their own private tractor highway leaving ruts for most of the section I rode (despite knowing that they are not permitted). In frustration, I left the trail and rode RT 275's nice shoulders for the rest of the trip. Also, if you're looking for scenery, skip this trail.


Great American Rail-Trail

A nice ride. The hub is a good place to start.

August, 2022 by jodieo1

A nice ride. The hub is a good place to start.

Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail

Cowboy Trail

August, 2022 by torstenelsholz

Rode the trail in 6+ days, nice trail, very maintained, gravel only. Watch out for "puncture vines" must have spare tubes or tires or change from tubeless to tubes. Pack up! Beautiful out there. Don't expect too many people riding. Water up with hydration, not too many choices for refilling. Super hot in June/July. I enjoyed the ride a lot. If you prepare the ride, you find every 30+ miles a good place to sleep.

Great American Rail-Trail

so good

July, 2022 by fear2321

We took electric scooters and did 16miles of this trail was so beautiful seen 6 deer 5 turkeys will glad go back and explore more

Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail

Giddyup and get your Cowboy on!

May, 2022 by 7s5a692x35

May 22 – 24 2022 The entire Trail from East to West

Day 1 Norfolk to O’Neil 80 miles
Day 2 O’Neil to Bassett 50 miles
Day 3 Bassett to Valentine 65 miles

The Trail was in good condition with very, little vegetation in the middle of the trail for the duration for late Spring. There are plenty of soft spots (deep gravel) that wider tires (used 50cm) are highly recommended for the Trail.

If you are riding the entire Trail, there are multiple detours along the route. The issue is that some are not marked well until you get to where for example, a bridge is washed out and it says closed as you reach the river and you must backtrack. The detour puts you on a busy highway with plenty of traffic mostly with large trucks. Since the Cowboy follows the highway for a majority of the Cowboy, we learned that once the obstacle was bypassed, we would just join back onto the trail which in most cases was a football field in distance to return to the Trail.

Treat all transitions with caution that includes all roads, driveways and bridges that crosses the trail as each may have challenges to include drop-offs, soft and deep sand plus up to 6” to get back up on the trail.

You may want to take into consideration the winds for the timeframe of your ride because you are exposed as the limited trees along the trail do little to help block the wind. 2 out of 3 days it was a direct headwind of 10+ knots. Also, going from East to West is a steady 1 to 2% climb.

We chose the Spring time frame to avoid the possibility of the dreaded sand burrs but we did have several occurrences of the burrs being imbedding in our tires. Luckily, we were running a tubeless tire setup with a sealant we have been using for years and after removing a burr, it quickly plugged the leak and we continued on with our journey.

Throughout the length of the Cowboy, there was some sort off wildlife digging holes mostly on the sides of the trail but some were in the middle of the trail and quite large. It was difficult to see the severity of the hole until you were almost on it.

As you approach each town on the trail, there is a sign announcing the name off the city and distance to the next one. As you are departing that town, there is another one along the trail.

Near Bassett, keep your eyes in the pastures adjacent to the trail as you might see wildlife of not the indigenous type but more of the exotic kind – 2 camels and a zebra!

Oak Creek Trail

A worthwhile experience

April, 2022 by dianalim

Oak Creek Trail is still closed just north of Valparaiso which was not posted on the info kiosk in Valparaiso. Better to start at County Rd. 30 if heading northward. Beautiful trail. Largely wind protected with embankments and trees. The horse trail alongside occasionally crisscrosses the fine gravel trail which was in good shape for this early spring ride. Restrooms were not open. North of Loma we encountered >20 mph winds which were gusting to 36 mph which added a significant challenge. But it was a pretty ride and worth the effort.

Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail

Trail near Valentine NEB

September, 2021 by kcwyks_tl

We've read mixed reviews of various segments of the trail, with issues of maintenance, and goathead burrs that will puncture tires. But the section near the west end of the trail, specifically near Valentine NEB merits a short ride and we didnt encounter any problems. Park in downtown Valentine, where the trail crosses highway 83 (or anywhere- its a small town) and head east on the trail about 2 miles for a visual treat. The huge trestle that is one of the trail icons crosses high above the Niobrara river, and offers great views of the valley. Also FYI, the Niobrara is a great float river and several outfitters are based in Valentine.

Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail

Cowboy trail

August, 2021 by jdfcsc

Completed my ride east to west on Aug 9. I rode my Kettwiesel e-assist trike around 40 mi. per day, staying on trail except for required detours, two near Neligh and one at Long Pine. Because temperature in afternoon reached the 90s I started early each day. It’s not an easy ride, soft surfaces occasionally, and weeds in center of trail quite frequently. With my trike one wheel was in the weeds in places. But thanks to Schwalbe marathon tires, I had no flats I did notice goatheads sticking to tires several times and removed them of course.

Dark Island Trail

Excellent biking/running trail

July, 2021 by boeding7_tl

Surface is well maintained for the entire length of the trail, no loose piled gravel. Rode morning after thunderstorms, surface absorbed the moisture well. Encountered cross country runners and other bikers on the trail. Bader Bridge is a marvel!

Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail

Beautiful but Thorny!

July, 2021 by utpaduke

I had planned on riding total NE Cowboy Trail in 4 days! On 29June I took off @ 7am from Econ Lodge @ Valentine. My first 45 miles were just AWESOME! Then I got a flat tire on the rear; Although I had an extra tube, I did not have a pump. After I began walking my bike, my front tire also went flat. I suspected I had picked up the thorns along the trail middle section, while I had been criss-crossing the trail to avoid the bumpyty-bump of some recent horse shoe prints! I walked about 4-5 miles to my Rodeway Inn. Lucky, Bomgars, was across the street. I was able to buy 2 new tubes, slime, and a hand pump.
After much trials/tribulations getting my 2 tires repaired, I took off late, 930am on Wed 1July. Becuase there was a detour in Long Pine, I decided to ride the Hwy 20 Shoulder. As I could always see the trail along the way, I then decided to avoid the risk of more thorns, by staying on the Hwy 20 wide shoulder. I did OK for 20 miles. Then during a water break, I made the mistake of leaning my bike on a stop sign. I must have picked up several thorns right there; not long after I took off, my rear tire went flat!
First I tried the Slime, but it did not plug the multiple holes! It took me about an hour in 90-degrees on the shoulder of Hwy 20 to get my LAST new tube installed. I had 30 miles to get to Atkinson. I prayed HARD that I would not get another flat.
I got to my Sandhills Guest House @ 6PM. I was totally exhaused by the heat, and the added stress caused by the Prevailing Winds and the continuous flying Farm Semi-Trailers, which created additional wind to push me back!
I decided I would pause my ride after completing 100 beautiful miles. The remaining 100 miles to Norfolk will have to wait for another time! Maybe I will find non-flat tires before my next attempt!

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