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The Platte River Connection is a short, but critical, route that will one day link the vast trail systems of the two most populous Nebraskan cities, Lincoln and Omaha. The trail's centerpiece is the 1,714-foot-long Lied Platte River Bridge, a converted Rock Island Railroad trestle that offers picturesque views of the water.
On the south side of the Platte River, the trail provides a tree-lined entrance to the rural community of South Bend. On the north side of the river, the trail connects to Springfield's MoPac Trail.
The Lied Bridge was damaged by flooding in 2019, but has been repaired and reopened for public use as of July 2021.
Parking for the Platte River Connection is available on both sides of the river. On the south bank, park at the trailhead on 328th Street (0.5 mile south of South Bend). On the north bank, park at the parking lot just off State Route 31.
Bridge was recently opened back up over the Platte. Additional upgrades on the east side of the river as well.
Closed for several years now. We saw the entrances in South Bend wired up and signs saying stay out but then members of the Middle island community using the bridge as their leisure ground. So basically it’s gated access to keep everyone out except those who live on Middle Island.
I got to the east end of the bridge and it was blocked by heavy construction equipment and some workers told me the bridge is closed. Obviously.
As a ‘through rider’ I had to ride all the way from State Route 50 out SR 31, to find out that the trail to the bridge is closed and the bridge is barricaded. Don’t bother going. It has been closed from flooding since March 2019 and the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District does not seem to be in any hurry to open or repair the bridge. The detour would be to ride the 4 1/2-5 miles back to the SR 50 bridge at Louisville.
We walked path today. Beautiful day for a walk. His path is not “one mile” as advertised. That’s a little misleading. Loved all the benches for resting if necessary. We will be back! ¿¿
Starting at the Platte River Connection trailhead (next to the road), you first ride slightly downhill to the river. This section is more rough than your standard crushed limestone, but still not too bad.
You will pass a ‘river community’ with posted signs that read “Private Property”, but that is for the grassy areas, not the trail. The trail you will be on is fine…it leads to the bridge you’re there to see.
Once you get to the bridge it is very open and wide, and pretty cool. It has several covered viewing areas with benches, some of which have placards to read about the area.
This trail is not a loop… after visiting the bridge you must then head back up to the trailhead. Although it is listed as a ‘1 mile’ trail, you will be going about 1.65 miles total, from the trail head/parking lot, to the far end of the long bridge, then back to your car.
This spot is a two-fer. The same trailhead that is for the Platte River Connection now also is for the Mopac (see that trail on this website also)
The Mopac has been lengthened… from this trail, all the way to a few miles north of Springfield, so you could ride about 10.5 miles starting from here if you wanted to. 13 or so if you keep going thru Springfield and end up in a random spot closer to Omaha.
It is all crushed limestone and actual trail…not a road/combo trail (up to Springfield anyway – I didn’t go any further so don’t know about that section).
If you do ride the Mopac trail, which starts right there in the same parking lot, it will take you 4 miles (mostly within fairly close proximity of the road) to the southern Mopac trailhead at the Platte river. Either turn around there and ride back, for a total of just about 9.76 miles, or if you go another couple hundred feet, you will pass a restaurant called Heron Bay. I highly recommend you eat here! Yummy food, and a outdoor table with a nice river view if you want.
You can turn around now, or keep heading north on the Mopac. If you keep riding north on the Mopac, you will ride almost another 5.67 miles to the Springfield trailhead. At this point, you will need to get back to your car back at the Platte River Connection trailhead, and once you’ve done that, you will have gone a total of 21 miles.
If you only ride the Platte River Connection, you will enjoy it, it is nice all on its own. If you also ride the Mopac, you can get a bit of speed and exercise, and forestry areas, and a good assortment of visuals for your eyes, and legs, without being too difficult, and turn a 1 miler into a 21 miler pretty nicely, all from the same parking spot.
I'm giving Platte River Connection a 5 star rating, based on its own merits...not based on its length. It is short, on its own, yes, but it has a nice parking spot trailhead, a fairly easy trail to the bridge, and once your at the bridge, you'll be there a while and there's lots to see...for a bridge. I think it deserves 5 stars for what it has to offer, in its short length.
Took my grandson, (a new bike rider) on this small trail. He really enjoyed riding over the Platte river and then we went into the community on the south side of the Platte and rode thru the neighborhood. It was very quiet and great for kids to ride without it being a busy area. The only negative was the gravel getting to the bridge, part of the trail had deep gravel that you had to be careful not to take a spill otherwise had a great time.
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