“A challenging network of fast flowing singletrack cut into the bluffs above the Platte River.
— Phil Niles
Platte River State Park is one of the best trail systems in eastern Nebraska. It's a beautiful network of fast flowing singletrack cut into the bluffs above the Platte River. These trails wind themselves up and down the forested bluffs, across open fields at the crest, and rocket down gullies in between.
Do not ride the eastern half of the park 9am - 4pm from Memorial Day through October 31st. Horses use the trails at this time. Respect the restrictions.
Need to Know
Park just left and down the hill from the park entrance or just right and up the hill by the observation tower. The map shows the route from the observation tower. It is preferred to start the ride from the lower parking lot that takes you by the little waterfall.
The best route through is to take a left after the park entrance, then your first right into the parking lot. Hop on your bike and start pedalling through the mostly flat section past the waterfall, then up the last trail on the right. This will come to a wider gravel trail that will lead to the observation tower at the top, but take your first left 200 feet or so up this trail and follow it to a doubletrack on the other side of the bluff. This will lead you to the sweet eastern half.
If you're starting at the observation tower, head down the trail from the parking lot to about 3/4 of the way down and look for the right hand turn mentioned above.
The fun will begin after a grunt up the first hill (unless you enjoy hills, then the fun will have already started!) The trail winds down through thick vegetation (and most likely spider webs) and then climbs back up to make a left at the top, leading to an overlook of the Platte River. During the summer, this overlook becomes completely obscured by trees, damn nature! Another climb follows and opens to a meadow at the top.
After the meadow, work your way down to what you rode your ass up here to do. The first trip down is a blast! Quick drops coupled with fast ups with roots and random logs to contend with, not to mention the stray deer or two. Once the trail reaches the bottom, it climbs back up with an optional rocky mini-loop. The rocks are not too difficult to negotiate (says the guy that has walked them more than once), but add more variety to an already diverse trail.
At the top of the last climb, it's time for the Gully. Fun, fun, fun!! The Gully winds its way in splendid fashion down a gully (imagine that) throwing rollercoaster dips and dives, sandy washouts, rooty climbs, and rocky playgrounds. The rest of the ride back to the car is a good cool down and playing in the waterfall wouldn't hurt!