Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
400.00 ft (121.92 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
6.00 mi (9.66 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Founded in 1921, Chadron State Park was Nebraska’s first state park. Located approximately 9 miles south of Chadron, Nebraska, it is home to part of Nebraska’s Pine Ridge. The ridge is made up of a mixture of stone-lined buttes and canyons overrun by pine trees and wildflowers. The park itself hosts 6 miles of hiking trails and 4 miles of biking trails. These trails are accessible throughout the beautiful park, making it easy to leave your campsite and be right on the trails. Other activities include swimming, fishing, historical programs, and even horseback trail rides.

Accommodations include cabins, RV stalls with electricity hookups as well as campsites. These locations may be reserved up to one year in advance as well as having others available at a first-come, first serve basis. The restroom and shower facilities are located throughout the park and kept in a clean, accommodating manner. Being a short distance from Chadron provides a quick trip for any forgotten or unpacked necessities.

The path leaves the campground and winds through a seemingly midwestern pasture. A slight incline leads to a trail that follows an old creek bed lined with towering pine trees. From here hikers will climb and wind along the trail that eventually leads into a beautiful grassy meadow where the real beauty of the hike begins.

A short hike leads through the clearing and standing trees as it slowly winds around to a gravel incline. Buttes line either side of the clearing, keeping the secret of the hike just until the right moment. Breaking over the climb is a staggering view looking north toward the badlands of Nebraska. A never-ending view is dotted with pines and other hardwoods as they cover the rolling hills and buttes. Charred trees reveal the age-old tradition of burning the prairie in the spring to make way for lush, green grasses that the wildlife thrive on for the remainder of the summer.

The gravel trail winds back through the ups and downs of the butte until it reveals the masterful landscape looking back south. If a singular view is remembered from the hike, this view is it. In the distance, more of the Pine Ridge is visible fading over the horizon. Without a trace of settlement, this view connects the user back to nature, and one can see the trees and vegetation climbing to reclaim the butte walls. The trail continues to wind over the ridge of the butte and provide breathtaking views.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Views. Badlands. Unique Landscape.

Cons

No large airports or cities nearby.

Trailhead Elevation

3,800.00 ft (1,158.24 m)

Highest point

4,200.00 ft (1,280.16 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Family friendly
Flushing toilets
Potable water
Wildlife
Fishing
Horseback riding
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Old-growth forest
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Permit required

Yes

Permit self-issue on site

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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