nebraska mtb

5 Best Mountain Bike Rides in Nebraska

Located in America’s vast Midwest, in an area known as the Great Plains region, Nebraska is a beautiful state and a utopia for off-road mountain bikers.  Characterized by an immense treeless prairie, Nebraska offers a number of out-of-the-way trails that showcase the region’s natural splendor; trails designed for every level of mountain biker, from novice first-timers to advanced technical specialists.  To help point you in the right direction, below we have compiled some exciting information about five of the state’s most loved mountain biking trails and the challenges that make each of them so attractive to riders.

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Jewel Park

Jewel Park, located in the quaint town of Bellevue, Nebraska, is a loop trail that covers approximately 3.5 miles of uneven Midwest terrain.  The trail commences in a wooded area, adjacent to a fenced-in dog park, where riders will immediately be tested by a steep climb with some very tight switchbacks.  The apex offers some beautiful sweeping views of the forest below before making a rapid descent down the back side of the course.  Cyclists will be tested by a number of obstacles on the way down, particularly log crossings that allow them to get some thrilling “air” before reaching the bottom of the route.

The Jewel Park trail is an intermediate to advanced course.  According to locals in the area, this is not a trail for beginners, as the course requires an advanced degree of skill and endurance.  Being that the course is only 1-2 feet wide throughout, there are few places to stop along the way, save for the top of the loop, and its steep, rocky descent can make it difficult for beginners to control their speed and the bike on the way down.

Calvin Crest Trail

Situated just east of Fremont, Nebraska, on the southern bluffs of the renowned Platte River, the Calvin Crest Trail is a beautiful course that winds its way through deciduous pine and cedar trees.  Riders of all abilities can find something to love on this trail; however due to its technical challenges on some portions of the course it is recommended that no riders tackle this course alone.

The Calvin Crest Trail features several miles of riding entertainment and just the right amount of daring obstacles and challenges. From its grinding ascents to its thrilling downhill sections, the track is the perfect antidote to riding boredom.  Loved by locals and visitors alike, the trail loop offers flowing double and single track that are intermittently punctuated by roots, berms and switchbacks, all set against a backdrop that features some of Nebraska’s most gorgeous natural scenery.

The Calvin Crest Trail is built on Calvin Crest Presbytery Camp property. As a result, all riders are urged to observe the posted rules and closure dates—dates when the camp is in session as well as certain times in the winter when the weather prevents safe navigation of the course.

Indian Caves State Park

Indian Caves State Park—and the trail system it offers—is located on the bluffs of the Missouri River, some 15 miles southeast of Brownsville between Nemaha and Richardson Counties in Nebraska.  The trail at this popular state park features over 15 miles of single track (and 11 miles of double track) that provide excellent riding conditions for intermediate to advanced riders.

In total, the trail system at Indian Caves State Park includes 11 numbered and excellently marked trails that together form a series of loops in a primarily moderate to rocky and uneven environment.  Each of the 11 trails traverse an undulating oak hardwood forest with steep ravines that cut into the bluffs along the Missouri River, offering sporadic vistas of the surrounding ridges and the wide Missouri River floodplain to the east.

The more advanced and popular trails at Indian Caves State Park include steep climbs and rapid descents, intermittent obstacles, water and erosion that, taken together, create one of the best mountain biking courses in the state of Nebraska.

Glen Cunningham Lake

Located in the city of Omaha—the largest city in the state of Nebraska—the trails at Glen Cunningham Lake are perfect for novice to intermediate riders seeking to improve their skills.  An ideal mix of single and double track, the course includes a number of surfaces and terrains, including grass, mud, asphalt and gravel.  The trailhead is just a short distance from the park’s campgrounds, making it the perfect escape for campers desiring a little fun and exercise.

Measuring 9 miles in length, the Glen Cunningham Lake Trail is designed to be ridden as a loop.  Although mostly flat, the course does include some slippery regions and switchbacks, as well as a number of roots, logs, berms and other obstacles. The trail is located in one of the state’s most picturesque regions and thus attracts thousands of mountain biking enthusiasts each year, all determined to improve their skills.

Platte River State Park

The trail system at Platte River State Park is a moderate course located just a stone’s throw from the town of Louisville in Nebraska.  A great way to spend an afternoon, this 8-mile loop will thrill both intermediate and advanced riders, although it is not intended for beginners due to its level of difficulty. 

The trail system at Platte River State Park is generally considered one of the best mountain biking tracks in the entire state of Nebraska. Its gorgeous network of fast flowing single track cuts into the bluffs above the Platte River, at which time the trails wind themselves up and down the forested bluffs, across open fields at the crest, and finally rocket down the gullies that are nestled in between.

A course that is rapidly growing in popularity among the mountain biking crowd, the Platte River Trail features a full range of terrains and impediments, ranging from sandy uphill climbs to lighting fast descents that are guaranteed to have meeker riders fumbling for the brakes. Rocky outcroppings, roots and short-sided berms are all associated with this course’s downhill freefall, which can be ridden independently or as part of the overall loop.

image credit: zeroack

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