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In the northwestern corner of Nebraska, the White River Trail provides a 3-mile connection between Crawford City Park and Fort Robinson State Park. Along the way, the crushed-stone pathway offers stunning views of tree-covered buttes and a few crossings over the White River on former railroad bridges.
Fort Robinson State Park—the western end of the White River Trail—encompasses the fort and military camp that was home to the Red Cloud Agency in the 1870s. This federal agency served both the Oglala Lakota tribe of the Great Sioux Nation, as well as the Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, in what was essentially a forerunner to modern American Indian reservations. Fort Robinson is also notorious as the site of both Crazy Horse's surrender and his death in 1877. Today, a historic plaque marks the location.
Exhibits at the Fort Robinson Museum also inform visitors about the fort's later history as the regimental headquarters of the Buffalo Soldiers in the late 1800s and as the site of a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.
On your way to and from Fort Robinson, be sure to keep your eyes open for the wildlife who call the area around the White River Trail home. Depending on the time of year, deer, wild turkey, bison and long-horn cattle can be seen.
Parking is available in Crawford at the unassuming trailhead at 1st and Main Streets. Alternatively, start your journey at Fort Robinson State Park. Parking is available at several small parking lots around the Fort Robinson Museum just off of US 20. Walk a short distance to the marked trailhead at the southeastern corner of the park.
We were camping at Ft. Robinson. The trailhead was clearly marked. The tracks you can clearly see right by the campground we were at (Red Cloud). Very picturesque! Be aware there is poison ivy on the shoulder of the trail. Also, if you park at Ft. Robinson, you will need a Nebraska State Parks sticker to come into the park. This was very enjoyable to run!
I made reference to the town east of Fort Robinson State Park as Gordon - It should be Crawford rather than Gordon. They only place I could find the White River trail is going 3.5 miles from the park to Crawford.
Chris Bracknell, Ivanhoe, Va
There is something strange about the data on the White River Trail. I rode it from Fort Robinson State Park to Gordon. The data on the TrailLink page states it go from Andrews to Harrison for 10 miles. The section from the park to Gordon is only 3.5 and is in the opposite direction of Andrews. Harrison and Andrews is west of the park. What's the problem? Where is the 10 mile section? Is there trail between Andrews and Harrision?
Chris Bracknell, Ivanhoe, Va.
The trail is now marked at Fort Robinson State Park, but you have to look for it. Trailhead is located south of US 20 in the southeast corner of the historical area. Look for railroad tracks, look east and you will spot it. It is not on maps of the park and the information desk wasn't very helpful.
The trail is only about 3.25 miles long and runs from the park to the town of Crawford. In Crawford the trailhead is near the City Park which offers free camping with lots of shade and green grass. You could also access the trail from the park with the swimming pool near US 20.
This is a beautiful park of Nebraska and the vistas from the trail with lots of wildflowers were great. We highly recommend mountain bikes. The crushed rock surface hasn't been leveled and rolled in a while and in some places the rock is quite deep, othewise the trail is in good condition.
You can make this an enjoyable 20 miles or more by riding around the town of Crawford and exploring Fort Robinson at the other end. Coming off the trail, if you turn left on the road leading away from the main part of the Fort you will find the site of the WWII German Prisioner of War Camp and a little further the site of the Red Cloud Indian Agency. This too is unmarked on maps. A visit to the Fort's historical museum is highly recommended.
Park people were useless when we asked about this trail. The trail is not listed on anything in the park with no signs to it. We just happened to find it the morning we left and so we didn't get to ride it.
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