“Fast flow, rollercoasters, and drops. This trail has it all!
— Phil Niles
Calvin Crest is a jem of a trail situated on the southern bluffs of the Platte River just south of Fremont NE. Park by the basketball courts, then ride down the gravel road toward the bluff. The trail is currently marked with flags in the field above the bluff, until the trail is broken in. When you get to the bluff, the trail makes a hard left off the main hiking trail that can be easy to miss.
The trail is built on Calvin Crest Presbytery Camp property. Please visit their websitecalvincrest.org
and observe their rules and closure dates. Represent other mountain bikers and ride with respect!
The trail starts at the top of the bluff an winds up and down its terrain in three connected loops. It often travels through pine trees on "ridge lines" reminiscent of Colorado riding if you use a little imagination. The trail starts at the top of the bluff and bombs down a series of rollercoaster-esque ups and downs.
It comes to a downhill slope with embedded shale rock (that has mostly been removed due to extreme slickness when wet) with a sharp right turn at the bottom. It follows the valley floor, crosses a really cool stick bridge, over a couple log crossings, then continues up a short grunt out of the gully. Travelling through picturesque forest, the ride starts a moderate climb back up the bluff, passing by fire rings and covered wagon campsites. You can almost hear kumbaya and smell smores!
Just when you are getting comfortable cruising the meandering path, two big gravity cavities emerge to slap the contentment off your face and get a little adrenaline pumping! Recently, the trail builders have put in two bridges on an optional side path to traverse these, but you can also use them to come back over the cavities and ride 'em again!
Traveling onward the trail makes its way down the bluff to a hiking trail intersection. Make a left, crossing an earthen bridge over not so troubled water and up a series of short, steep, tight switchback. A new section starts at the crest of the climb and flies down a gully through a series of high bank turns. The last of which sports a giggle inducing three foot drop. There is a bail out to the left, but it can be just as tricky! Just remember: weight back, no touchy brakes.
The trail travels on along a creek bed then climbs up via "Fall Left" hill. As the name suggests, fall left if balance escapes you! The trail makes it's way back up the bluff. At the top you'll be greeted by a spider infested outhouse and an observation tower. I discovered that the tower is not built for even small adults like myself with a touch of claustrophobia.
The descent in reality is not that difficult, but the off camber slant of the trail and a few unfortuatous directed roots make it interesting. I have found myself a number of times running alongside my bike down the hill, bewildered how the situation unfolded. The trail is soft on the edges, especially on the downhill side of the steeper pitches. Eventually the trail circumnavigates back to the earthen bridge, across and then left. Emerging from the trees, the swinging bridge comes into view.
The bridge is now avoided by a right turn and a new, less "swingy" bridge further upstream. The trail then rides along the Platte River edge, which is a good place to stop and watch for bald eagles. The last half mile or so is a moderate climb back up the bluff to the parking lot. A great workout to round out the ride! A couple more log crossings would be a welcome challenge, but overall this is turning into my favorite trail in the area!