Access Special Backpacker.com Features, Register Now!

Chadron, NE: Norwesca Trail

Dip into hidden valleys, skirt rugged buttes, and even surprise a few wild turkeys on this 5.2-miler that loops from top to bottom of Nebraska’s Pine Ridge in Chadron State Park.

Rating

Pine Cone Butte is the start point for this clockwise loop that combines several trails in Chadron State Park. From the picnic area, head 100 yards downhill on the road and then turn onto a wide, grassy trail that skirts the top of a tree-choked ravine. Just before mile 1, you’ll pass the park’s main cabin area on the Orange Trail before crossing the road, joining the Norwesca Trail and dipping into a valley on the park’s south side. The trail follows a small creek up a valley headed west—look for evidence of selective logging and forest maintenance on the surrounding slopes.
A ponderosa-shaded climb leads to this loop’s high point on the Black Hills Overlook Road near mile 3. But the best part of the hike is ahead: a 1-mile stretch through a rocky ravine below Steamboat Butte. The southbound jog to the trailhead climbs the Black Hills Nature Trail to within a few hundred feet of the parking area, but this route turns uphill for a 10-minute exploration of the Pine Cone Butte before returning to the trailhead parking lot.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

To Trailhead

From Chadron, drive 8.4 miles south on US 385. Turn right into the park and bear left at the Y-junction just past the entrance. In 0.25 mile, turn right, then drive 1 mile on the main road to the Pine Cone Butte Shelter.

Leave a Reply