Hardwood Trail is a 1.9 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Falls City, NE that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The Hardwood Trail is a demanding point to point trail that takes you through several wet weather creeks and over forested Loess hills to Indian Cave, a large sandstone cavity on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri river. The cave, dates back thousands of years, has preserved indian petroglyphs.
A lot of hills and SPIDERS! Can't tell you how many times I walked into a spider web during the summer. Bring a walking stick or pick one up from the ground. I'm in decent shape and it was pretty hard for me. Bring bug repellent it will help a lot.Watch where you step because I twisted my ankle and buckled my knee. If you are hiking to the cave, trail head 11 is a steep way down be careful there are lots of rocks on the ground and it is slick (that's where i twisted my ankle and buckled my knee). But none of the less it was a beautiful hike.
I hiked the Hardwood Trail in October, 2012. I enjoyed the hike and camped at one of the "primitive" camp sites along the trail. The trail has a lot of up and down, which is ok, but the in many places the trail is very poorly designed and maintained. The main problem is steep inclines in soft ground with no water bars, which means a lot of drainage ditches down the middle of the trail. This is made even worse by a lot of horse traffic, which churns up the trail and makes the ditches worse.
I was there during a drought year, but from the look of the trails hiking there during or after any significant rain would be very unpleasant.
Trail #11 is the last leg heading down to the cave, and is TERRIBLE shape; major erosion and a tree over the trail when I was there (looked somewhat recent, but not immediately before I arrived).
Be aware that the map provided by the park is only roughly accurate, but is a decent guide. Overall trail markings are spotty, good in some spots, not in others. There are a couple of unmarked cut-offs that short-cut bits of the trail that double back. I actually found this helpful when I wanted to cut off some distance on the way back.
There are several camp sites along the trail. They are well laid out and include a fire ring. There are also several shelters.
Be aware that you will need to carry all of the water you need; though there may be some streams available in a more wet year. However, one is never very far from a parking or camping area, so an in-out trip to refill would be pretty easy if one wanted to stay along the trail for a while.
Fabulous hike. Very demanding. Androndack shelter saved us from a wet night. Cave was interesting. great bluff views of the Missouri river.