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Chadron, NE: Steamboat Butte

Climb a lone butte (and spend a few minutes exploring its rugged base) on this easy 1.5-mile loop that offers a panoramic peek at Chadron State Park’s rugged terrain.

Trip Tools

This 1.5-mile loop, built and maintained by local boy scouts, begins at the north side of the Sawmill Shelter—plenty big for a pre- or post-hike picnic. To begin, cross the grassy area and follow the gently sloping trail south. You’ll notice evidence of selective logging and restoration efforts alongside the trail before it turns sharply uphill at mile 0.25. It’s a short climb to a saddle along the ridge where this route turns right to wander around the prominent butte just a few hundred feet away. To continue on the loop, follow the trail south along the ridgeline. Keep an eye out for deer and wild turkeys as the trail widens into a meadow near the Black Hills Overlook Road. Before reaching the road, turn left onto an easy downhill path that cruises an open valley to close the loop.
Note: If you’re hiking with small kids, consider skipping the butte-top section of this route where loose rocks and steep cliffs add an element of danger to this otherwise easy hike.
-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 1.7 miles on the main road to the Sawmill Shelter, staying left at road junctions to bypass the tennis courts and campground.

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