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Scottsbluff, NE: Saddle Rock Trail

The crumbling caprock and sheer sandstone faces of Scotts Bluff frightened Oregon Trail-era emigrants, but they’re the draw on this challenging, 3.8-mile out-and-back that climbs 500 feet up the towering massif.

Rating

A challenging hike in some of western Nebraska’s most interesting terrain, this 3.8-mile out-and back begins at the Scotts Bluff National Monument visitor center. The paved path winds uphill almost immediately after leaving the trailhead, crossing an open prairie and climbing sweeping switchbacks on the side of the bluff. Below the spires of Saddle Rock, the trail passes through a 100-foot tunnel and then rounds the saddle itself as it continues to climb. Near mile 1.5, the trail levels and winds around the top of the bluff toward two overlooks. If lightning isn’t a danger, spend some time resting and wandering the trails at the top before descending the same trail toward the visitor center and museum.
Note: Although this mapped 4-mile route is recommended, it’s possible to drive to a parking area near the summit and still hit the overlook highlights without strenuous walking.
-Mapped by Kristy Holland

To Trailhead

From US 26 north of Scottsbluff, turn south onto NE 71 (Avenue I) and drive 4.1 miles to NE 92 (Old Oregon Trail). Turn right on NE 92 and drive 1.8 miles to the visitor center on the right.

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