Trail to be finished

With plans announced to complete the final 5 miles near Chadron, the Cowboy Trail from Norfolk to Chadron covering 321 miles will be finished.

CHADRON — On Friday, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) joined Chadron Mayor Miles Bannon and the Northwest Nebraska Trails Association to sign a memorandum of understanding allowing for 5 miles of rail-with-trail to be developed alongside an active corridor owned by Nebraska Northwestern Railroad to be used to connect Chadron to the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail.

The Cowboy Trail connection is the latest announcement of progress along the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail.

The easement marks a significant development in completing the remaining 5 miles of Trail Gap 59-Cowboy Trail Extension 2 from Rushville to Chadron.

“As we celebrate plans to extend this segment of the Cowboy Trail to Chadron, we’re also witnessing an important milestone for the Great American Rail-Trail,” said Kevin Belanger, trail planner, at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. “We are all grateful that Nebraska Northwestern Railroad recognized the value that this extension will have on the community. The agreement is an excellent case study in public-private-nonprofit partnership to benefit the greater community.”

The Northwest Nebraska Trails Association will follow the signing of the agreement with a request for proposals to begin the engineering process that will eventually lead to construction to develop the trail miles.

Earlier in the year, RTC announced a $65,000 grant to be shared between two nonprofit organizations — Cowboy Trails West Inc. and the Northwest Nebraska Trails Association to move the Cowboy Trail closer to completion.

The Cowboy Trail, totaling 321 miles when complete, is one of the longest rail-trail conversions in the nation, spanning much of Nebraska in addition to Norfolk and the region.

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Want to learn more?

To learn more about the Great American Rail-Trail and to view the preferred route, visit and follow @greatamericanrailtrail and #GRTAmerican on Facebook and Instagram.

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