Explore the most popular State Parks in Nebraska with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Nice trail. Practiced hiked with a 33 lb pack. It’s a bit more difficult the further east you go. The description says it’s a 5.1 mile loop. I’m not sure what loop they are talking about, but it’s a lot more that 5.1 miles. Hiked from car lot and went 2 miles east to all the switchbacks, then returned, totaling 4.1 miles. No way the ‘red’ path is 5.1 miles... lol.

Gem. Most of the trail is shaded. Almost reminds us of Washington and Colorado. Restrooms at the park.

Very much enjoyed hiking here. The little waterfalls are beautiful and easy to find. There’s a cool scenic overlook as well. I thought the hike was easy, but I stayed on the west side of the park and didn’t go over to the east side. However, planning on returning as there’s supposed to be another scenic overlook on that side of the park. It wasn’t clear on the map how to get over there, but they were able to explain how in the office. Overall enjoyable and scenic hike, seems like it’d be a good place for kids, too! Not too busy if you go on a weekday.

These trails were partially formed when Platte River State Park was Camp Harriet Harding for 80 yrs before 1980 when the state joined two parks to make this state park. I camped here in the 1970's and ran the trails for hours on end. These trails are the essence of Nebraska. A true riparian forest, caught between the river and the prairie. Fun trails to hike along. Nice little side trails to explore. Sometimes you will see turkeys in the trees, deer, rabbits, coons, lots of insects.

Not always marked well but lots of wildlife.

This is a walk through campgrounds.

I really enjoyed this trail with my dogs. I do wish it was marked a little bit better. Obviously it isn’t hard to follow, but a few more signs out there would be nice. We keep coming back! Love it!

Good views, not very busy, and we saw lots of deer!

picked a cold day to ride and somehow missed the south end of the trail. not well marked at south end or I was just too tired to see it! beautiful trail. didn't see a human for over 2 hours

hiking
3 months ago

Walked trail 9, 10, 11 it was absolutely breathtaking with some pretty steep inclines which I loved, if your looking for an absolutely amazing day and a good workout with some breathtaking views I recommend this place, i drove 2 1/2 hours to go hiking here with my dog and the entry fee was $8 but that little bit of money for the parking ticket is worth every last cent

hiking
3 months ago

I think we picked a bad time to go as everything has recently been burned so the scenery was black and uneventful. The Indian Cave trail says “Dogs on Leash” however once hiking through a bunch of bullllshit because the markers and directions are a little confusing you finally get to it and it says “No Pets”. When you put in the trail in AllTrails it takes you to Trailhead 9, I believe. You hiked a bunch of wooded area until you come to the top where there is a campground sight and field. We took trail 11 because that’s where everyone said the cave started at. PLEASE BE CAREFUL, when I read all the stuff that Trail 11 was a “death trap” I scoffed it off. It is a very steep, very small and not well maintained trail down a cliff side. At some points if you were to fall it would be close to deathly. We hiked after a rain so add this trail plus mud with some grip for your feet is was miserable. At one point we were on our asses scooting down. You get to the end of it and the cave is nowhere to be found. Let alone no signs. However it says it starts at trailhead 11. Low and behold you have to walk down the road along the river about a football field and there it is, the big beautiful red staircase which said “No Pets”. All in all, was not worth the 4 hour drive. If it was closer it definitely is worth it. The park is giant and when everything turns green it will be beautiful. Plus, you can’t beat spending 5 hours outdoors and not seeing a single soul. Just you, the dogs and nature.

I really liked this trail! I wish it was longer. Nice and easy for all ages, My dog was with me and she love it.

We enjoyed backpacking here. Lots of up and down hills. It was muddy but the views were worth it.

walking
5 months ago

Short, easy walk along the Niobrara River, then a wooden pathway leads back to Smith Falls. 5 stars for how much fun it is to splash around with our kiddo at the base of the falls; highly recommended!

hiking
5 months ago

Had a blast it's a very hiking friendly park. Very cool during Halloween

We have hiked these trails year round and always a pleasure to be there. If damp under foot trekking poles can be helpful on slippery steep areas

Went hiking during the winter season. It was a nice trail but it wasn’t marked very well. So kinda made my own path and was cool to see the water frozen and able to walk out to the Platte River. Phone turned off due to the cold so I couldn’t record my whole hike. The observation tower was great to go on but it was, obviously, very cold and windy.

Quite stunning, if you can handle steep inclines it's totally worth it. Beautiful on a starry night overlooking the valley floor and lights below. Good trail in cooler months, good fall colors. Most scenic trail I've seen in Nebraska

hiking
7 months ago

Can't review anything you can't do. Drove an hour and a half to hike this trail and it's currently closed. They are burning off part of the park. Off to try a different one.

hiking
8 months ago

We just hiked trails 9 and 10 today. It was a beautiful day and the trails were well maintained and marked. I think we had the most fun on trail 10 and it provided some great views of the park and the Missouri river basin for as far as the eye could see. Also, there are some great campsites tucked back in on the trail. We are definitely going to come back for a hike and overnight camp out there as soon as possible!

hiking
8 months ago

This one can be a real butt kicker if you aren't in good shape as it's almost constantly up and down. However, the effort is worth it as the views from the tops of the bluffs are spectacular. Also, there are way more trails than what's on this site, so you can go a shorter or longer distance depending on what you're up for.

hiking
8 months ago

Trails are reasonably challenging and pretty well-kept, but not well marked. Asked for a map at the park entrance and was provided with a list (no map). The roadside maps are only vaguely accurate (e.g. there's a trail somewhere around here, good luck!).

I went in late summer and bugs were a problem, but this is to be expected in Nebraska.

By far the biggest disappointment was the "cave" itself. It's not really a cave, as it's only a few feet deep. The Indian carvings are laughable, as the walls of the cliff have not been even remotely protected from vandals over the decades.

It's a nice hike with some lovely trees. Saw deer, turkeys, and a flight of pelicans.

Small loop with heavy traffic in the summer. Heavily wooded, not much for views.

We hiked up 8 then down 7. Definitely a steep hike up 8, but it was dry and early November so no bugs. Gorgeous view from the top totally recommend it!! Will do it again with better planning. Phone service was spotty so plan for that also.

hiking
9 months ago

My family and I hiked there and smelled so fresh Mother Nature on muddy trail for 2.5 miles so nice color falls!

wonderful trial with my family. a bit steep in some areas.

I did what I consider the main loop. This starts from the trailhead near the waterfall, goes North, then East at the northern terminus of this trail. Proceed East to Owen Crossing, East some more to what I consider the main and best biking trails in the park. Those biking trails loop all over the place and ultimately come back to the east/west trail leading back to Owen Crossing. Travel west the way you came in back to the north terminus of the waterfall trail. Keep traveling west. Take any northern (right) trail that continues to move west and keeps the Platte River to your right and (mostly) in sight. Travel west until you run out of trail and are forced to turn South (left). Travel South until you get to the area that they are using as a temporary dump for the construction they are doing. Keep going south until the treeline then turn East (left). The rest of the trail is cake and follows the road back to where you parked. This loop is 6.26 miles. Lots of up and down.
I would rate this as moderate, only because of the up and down nature of the trail, the oppressive Eastern Nebraska humidity, and the terrible marking and signage of this trail. I'm a local and grew up nearby. I've hiked all over here long before these areas were State Parks so I'm intimately familiar with the area. They could get a lot more usage of the trails if they would take the time to properly map them and place markers at the appropriate places so people that are just casual users of the park could not feel intimidated and fear getting lost. There are numerous branching trails off what is already a vague trail (because of a lack of signage). The trails themselves are well established. It's just without clear markers and an accurate map of the area it probably keeps people from exploring more. I'm sure there are lots of city dwellers that come here that feel apprehensive about getting too far back in there because of the fear of getting lost, which would be easy to do if you're directionally challenged and aren't familiar with the area.

walking
10 months ago

Did the walk to kill time waiting for Ash Hollow to open. Just a place to stretch your legs.

hiking
10 months ago

Relative to the area, Smith Falls is a must do. Simple boardwalk to the falls. Nice campground, great float river adjacent to the falls.

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