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Best Backpacking In Nebraska

Our comprehensive guide to the best backpacking you can find in Nebraska.

Indian Cave State Park

Ancient native rock art isn’t the only attraction at this northeastern Nebraska hideaway located 4 miles east of Barada, along the Missouri River’s western shore. Twenty miles of up-and-down trail wind through eroded sandstone hills, hardwood forest, and braided flood channels. Rock Bluff Run and Hardwood are prime trails for exploring the park; both offer loop-hike opportunities with overnights at Indian Cave’s ridgetop shelters.

Contact: Indian Cave State Park, (402) 883-2575; www.ngpc.state.ne.us.

Nebraska National Forest

Two miles west of Halsey, on NE 2, 90,000 acres of rolling sand hills and sage country adjoin a 20,000-acre evergreen forest, beckoning dayhikers in search of old-fashioned peace and quiet. One signed trail runs for 3 miles from the campground to a backcountry lookout tower. All other trails and campsites are unmarked.

Contact: Bessey Ranger District, Nebraska National Forest, (308) 533-2257; www.fs.fed.us/r2/nebraska.

Oglala National Grassland

Nebraska’s western panhandle hides this 94,400-acre mosaic of native midgrass prairie and clay-sandstone badlands. Pronghorn antelopes and swift foxes live here amid mushroom-shaped hoodoos, prehistoric mammal tracks, and ancient bison-hunting sites. Most travel is cross-country, but the Bison Trail between Toadstool Park and Hudson-Minge Bone Beds offers superb views all the way to the Black Hills.

Contact: Oglala National Grassland, (308) 432-4475; www.fs.fed.us/r2/nebraska/oglala.

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