Last month I wrote about riding the Homestead Trail to Beatrice to check out the trail head of the Chief Standing Bear Trail to Marysville, KS. At the border of Kansas it turns into the Blue River trail, but it’s continuous from the Homestead trail beginning at Saltillo to Marysville. When a few more trails and links are repaired or completed it will be possible to ride on to Omaha via the Mopac from Lincoln then to Iowa to pick up the Wabash Trace, which continues south into Missouri.
I had hoped for a bike packing overnighter, something I never manage to get enough of, from my door to Marysville and back, 150 miles. Unfortunately, my plans crashed and burned and I had to make do with getting dropped off in Marysville and riding the 75 miles home. Still, it was worth it and I got to see the whole trail, including an exciting new segment being finished almost as I’m writing this.
The Blue River trail is 11.7 miles, and begins about two miles north of Marysville, with plans for an extension into the city. There are no services at the trail head. The trail is more wooded than most of what we have around here and runs along the river. Starting at the border, there are a couple of miles of signless trail before arriving in Barneston, (pop.114) where there is a shelter and restrooms, as yet not open or hooked up to water. Barneston was having a classic car show on the main street and I could have gotten water at the bar or small grocery had I needed it.
From there it was on to Beatrice via the Chief Standing Bear trail, 22.9 miles. The trail is owned by the Ponca tribe of Nebraska who made it possible and maintained by the Homestead Conservation and Trail Association. There were several more rest areas along the trail with empty kiosks but none were open yet, and one was only a concrete pad. At about 4 miles from Beatrice the city takes over, and that is where the new trail surface began, continuing on to the city. The trail surface was being compacted and rolled and I couldn’t be entirely sure at first if it was crushed limestone or hard surface. It was a little wavy/bumpy, but it is not finished yet. Midway along this segment I ran over something and had a spectacular amount of sealant erupting from my tubeless rear tire. I held my finger on it for about 5 minutes and it eventually clotted, saving me from having to switch to a tube. Just a little further along I came upon the machine that had been making the trail parked where the day’s work had ended, with about a mile of smooth dirt to go before connecting with the new concrete city trail, also about half done. I remember being at that very place a month ago, but it was hidden from view so I never found it. The unfinished rail bed continues on to the Homestead trail head at the information center/museum.
I had the 40 miles of Homestead Trail to myself until about Princeton, then saw six users before reaching Lincoln. I counted ten users of the CSB and Blue River trails. I hope more of you take the opportunity to explore the southern half of the Homestead, past Cortland and on to the CSB. While you’re at it be glad you can now navigate through Beatrice and thank the nice woman in the information center/museum at the trail head. She even posted a little map for cyclists at her window and she’d like to think we got trail construction hurried up last month.
Finally, your Plant Of The Week, found in abundance along the trail and beginning to bloom. It’s likely the source of your watery or gunky eyes: ragweed.