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Scottsbluff, NE: Daemonelix Loop

Travel back 19 million years on this easy 1.1-miler that skirts fossilized burrows, roots, and Miocene-era remains in Nebraska’s Agate Fossil Bends National Monument.

Rating

The highlights of this 1.1-mile lollipop loop are the three sites where you can examine the corkscrew-like burrows of an ancient beaver, but the short trail is rich with ancient evidence of the area’s flaura and fauna. Beginning at the trailhead parking lot, the wide, gravel path winds uphill through prairie—cheatgrass, lemon scurfpea and prairie sandreed are dominant trailside species. You’ll pass a sand dune outcropping before the trail splits to circle a bluff. A counterclockwise approach will take you past a display explaining the ancient soil exposed in the area, and uphill toward the top of the bluff for an overlook of the Niobrara River Valley. The west side of the loop has the most impressive display of daemonelix and an exposed cliffside near loop end has at least six easy-to-identify examples.
Keep an eye on kids and pets during this family- and pet-friendly hike. Rattlesnakes are common on and near the trail, though they aren’t usually aggressive, they may strike if surprised or threatened.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

To Trailhead

From Scottsbluff, drive 9 miles west on US 26 to Mitchell and turn left on NE 29. Drive 34 miles north and turn right onto River Rd. at the entrance to the national monument. The trailhead parking area is about 150 yards ahead on the left.

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