This weekend we visited the great plains state that invented Arbor Day. Indian Cave State Park is in the southeast corner of Nebraska, nestled along the Missouri River. We arrived Friday night in the dark and had to hike in about a mile and a half to our back-country campsite. When the trail immediately began a steep uphill climb, we were a little surprised. The entire hike was in fact straight uphill. Nebraska clearly has more topography than we realized. At the campsite we reunited with a friend we made on our recent trip to Mexico, along with his smuggled Mexican dog and posse of Lincolnites. His epic international bicycle tour had ended, and as planned we met back up with him in the plains. It was a cold night so we bundled up pretty quickly and slept.
We spent Saturday covering as much trail as possible. We witnessed the namesake cave, which was really more of a rock. The thousand year-old petroglyphs were not exactly spectacular after having been mostly covered by modern graffiti. But most of the hiking trails were unexpectedly scenic, following hilly terrain and ridge-lines overlooking the Missouri River. We covered parts of the Hardwood Trail and the Rock Bluff Trail. That night more folks from Lincoln joined us for a fun campfire dinner.
Sunday morning after packing up and hiking back to the car, we hiked the North Ridge Trail and went into Lincoln Bend Wetlands before leaving. It’s a pretty nice park to check out if you’re tired of the flat lands. Back-country campsites are a rare find in this region so it’s kind of nice to at least pretend that you’re on a real backpacking trip. The trails are not extremely well marked and don’t match up to the map, so a GPS is helpful. There was also an unusual amount of trash at the campsites. Try not to let it bother you (or even better, bring a trash bag and pick up some of it). But otherwise it’s worth a weekend.