Best Rural Activities
May is a great time to get outdoors and take a hike
Walking outdoors is one of life’s underrated pleasures. For one thing, it makes you feel fully alive and an integral part of the world. For another, it’s an activity that takes place at a human pace. Even if your goal is to get your heart going, you’re still traveling through the world slow enough to appreciate the sun on your face, the scent on the breeze, and the chirp of birds. And if you slow down a little, you can start to appreciate things in more detail: you can stop to admire the buds on the trees or the new growth – practically chartreuse – on wakening shrubs; you can spot the robin’s nest and watch as the industrious parents build or forage for food; if you find some kids, you can watch them play and try to remember what it feels like to be lithe and carefree and unencumbered.
Luckily, southwest and south central Nebraska has numerous beautiful trails where you can get out in the world and take a hike. Some are in town, some are in nature, some are paved and others are not. What they all have in common is an opportunity to relax and enjoy a simple pleasure – simply walking.
McCook Walking Trail
The McCook Walking Trail starts at Kelly Park, east 3rd and M Street continues east to H St. near the McCook Community College. The recently-completed 1-¼ mile trail is a 8’ wide and 6” thick concrete. Trees provide plenty of shade and cover for deer and song birds. For more: http://www.gotomccook.com/having-fun/great-outdoors.
The Mosaic Nature Trail, Axtell
The handicapped accessible Mosaic Nature Trail is located at Lake Siloam on 1044 23rd Road, north of Axtell. Dedicated in 2006, the trailhead includes a pavilion, picnic tables, outdoor grills and a handicapped accessible bathroom, making it among the most appealing and comfortable for tourist. Benches are located along the trail for walkers to stop, rest, and view the wetlands. The 3,200 feet of trails are 8 feet wide and designed as a series of three trails all connected and starting at Lake Siloam.
The Heart of the Hill Trail is .4 of a mile from Lake Siloam to Look Out Point where hikers may look through a scope to see the expanse of the natural wetland system. The Wetlands Loop Trail is also .4 of a mile and takes hikers directly into the wetlands where they may touch the plants and see the eco-system close-up. The Lake Loop Trail is approximately 1 mile and walkers and hikers and bicyclists can travel all the way around a 2.5 acre lake stocked with blue gill, bass and catfish. The City of Axtell currently is constructing a trail that will connect with the Mosaic Nature Trail. For more information, contact Theresa Evers, 308-743-2401, Ext. 190.
Pheasant Ridge Trail, Alma
Completed in 2005, the generously paved trail winds for three miles along the north shore of Harlan County Reservoir, through trees and parks from the picnic area and gazebo at the west end to the boat ramp and campground at Methodist Cove on the east. Offering frequent beautiful vistas, the trail is also a great place to see pheasants, owls, wild turkeys and other wildlife. Bikes are available for rent in downtown Alma. For more serious hikers and bikers, the nearby Harlan County Reservoir has 72 miles of ATV and other trails in the area. For more: http://www.almacity.com/Hiking%20Biking%20Trail/city%20of%20alma%20--%20Trail%20Home.htm
Johnson Lake Trail, Lexington
Two separate trails run for a total of 3.5 miles along the shores of beautiful Johnson Lake. The east side trail has parking near the outlet and winds west through the State Park under big trees; the west side trail parallels the road, from the inlet to the dam. Both are concrete and well maintained. For more information, contact Johnson Lake State Recreation Area, 308-785-2685.
Lake Seldom Walking Trail, Holdrege
Lake Seldom is located on the south edge of Holdrege, adjacent to Highway 183. The Lake Seldom wetland was hydrologically restored in 1998 utilizing federal and state funds, including a $38,000 contribution from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. After the wetland was restored, the Nature Conservancy purchased the property and deeded it to the City of Holdrege for one dollar, with restrictions on development to insure that Lake Seldom will continue to provide viable habitat for a wide range of wetland and upland wildlife. The Lake Seldom walking trail was completed in 2003. It is .9 mile long, 8’ wide and made of crushed limestone. Informational signs explain the wetlands and the wildlife walkers may see along the trail and in the wetlands. For more information, contact the City of Holdrege at 308-995-8681or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Willa Cather Prairie, Red Cloud
The Willa Cather Prairie is located five miles south of Red Cloud on U.S. Highway 281. The 608 acres of mixed-grass prairie has never been plowed and provides habitat for 250 reliant plant species, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians native to the region. Hiking trails are cut annually in the tall grass so that visitors can use the area for recreation and education without the destruction of large areas of the Native grasses. For more information, contact the Willa Cather Foundation, 866-731-7304.
Guide to country and small town events and entertainment
Fresh, funky, rugged and fun describe what we do for entertainment in Southwest and South Central Nebraska. Whatever your interests – festivals, rodeos, car shows, marathons, fishing contests, bird watching, carnivals, county fairs, art galleries, theatre or music – you’ll find it happening here. Listed below are links to some of our favorite places to find fun things to do.
Auto racing in McCook.
Events in Alma and Harlan County Lake
Fishing by Kayakjak in Benkelman
Graham Gallery of Fine Art in Hastings
Horse events and rodeo in McCook
Performing arts and art gallery in Red Cloud
Performing arts in Holdrege
Performing arts, art gallery in Minden
Tri-City Storm semi-pro ice hockey
Visit Nebraska Wineries