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Atkinson Cowboy Trail Is Ideal For Walks

City of Atkinson

The Cowboy Trail Railroad Park picnic pavilion is located north of downtown Atkinson.

By Lorraine Lieswald
Atkinson Graphic

The Cowboy Trail is an ideal trail for early morning or late afternoon walks. The former railroad bed for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, the Cowboy Trail is the nation's longest rail to trail conversion and Nebraska's first state recreation trail. Beginning at Norfolk, the Cowboy Trail stretches 195-miles to Valentine.

The crushed limestone trail follows Highway 20 through Atkinson right past the north side of Woodlawn Cemetery before winding to Stuart. Recently planted trees on the north side of the cemetery will soon serve as shade for walkers and bikers using the Cowboy Trail in Atkinson.

Located just a block north of downtown Atkinson on the Cowboy Trail is the Railroad Park picnic pavilion where bikers and hikers can rest. And while they are resting, they can read the story of Atkinson told in pictures and words on the freshly painted walls of the shelter. There's a picnic table for eating lunch and a waterspout to refill water bottles. Perennial flowers outline the sidewalk leading from the street to the pavilion. This spot is a cozy little corner of Atkinson often overlooked where one can spend minutes or even hours just being.

For hikers on the Cowboy Trai, walking shoes are suggested. Hybrid, mountain and gravel bikes are best for traveling on the trail. The worst enemy there is the Texas sand burr (goathead). Because of this it is advised for bikers to carry their own bike inner tubes. The crushed limestone trail is hard when dry and will become soft when rain has fallen within a 12-hour period.
Rules for using the Cowboy Trail are:

  • Trail is open one half hour before dawn and closed one half hour following sunset.
  • No  motorized vehicles
  • All pets must be on a leash no longer than 10 feet.
  • Cyclists need to wear helmets.
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
  • There is a $100 fine for littering.
  • Camping fires, hunting and use of firearms is prohibited.
  • Horse riders must dismount when crossing bridges and road intersections.
  • Vehicles have the right of way at road crossings.
  • Horses are not allowed to use the main trail surface.

Whether you choose to walk the Cowboy Trail or to rest in the Railroad Pavilion, you will experience the peacefulness of nature and  find  relaxation of your spirit.

For more information and a downloadable map, please click here.

Lorraine Lieswald/Atkinson Graphic

Brooke Farwell with her dog Charlotte enjoying a walk along the Cowboy Trail.
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