Rails to Trails Taking Shape Across Nebraska
Do you enjoy walking, hiking or bike riding? Are you looking for a new place to break in your roller-blades? Then you need to visit Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk.
Ta-Ha-Zouka Park is the official trailhead for the Cowboy Recreation and Nature Trail. A 2.2 mile "Connector Trail" has been constructed to bring the Cowboy Trail into the park, making access easier.
Rail banking for the Cowboy Trail did not reach into Norfolk, because the rail lines are still in use for Norfolk industries. Consequently the trail stopped 1.5 miles west of Highway 81, and was not accessible to the public.
In 1995, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) was asked by a local citizens group to bring the trail into Norfolk, via Ta-Ha-Zouka Park, for improved access to the trail. The LENRD cooperated with the City of Norfolk, Madison County, the Nebraska Department of Roads, the Nebraska Central Railroad, and the Elkhorn Valley Trails Network on this extension. Nucor and Wis-Pak of Norfolk donated right-of-way for the project.
Funding for the Cowboy Trail “Connector” was approved by the Nebraska Department of Roads and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. A&R Construction of Plainview completed the Norfolk Connector Trail in the spring of 2002, and it was opened to the public on June 2, 2002.
The 2.2 mile connector link is a cement trail and is 10-foot wide, making it easy to accommodate bikers, walkers, wheel chairs and roller-blades.
The Cowboy Trail, linking Norfolk to Chadron, is the longest rails-to-trails conversion in the nation. It spans 321 miles on the bed of the former Chicago and North Western railroad route. The Nebraska Game & Parks Commission is responsible for construction and management of the recreational trail. The development of the trail has been gradual with a portion of Nebraska's Federal Transportation Enhancement funding going into the project each year.
The Cowboy Trail is presently complete from Norfolk's Ta-Ha-Zouka Park to Valentine. Each segment allows local people to utilize the trail for walking, biking and horseback riding. For more information, call the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission offices in Lincoln or Bassett or visit OutdoorNebraska.org
Come and visit Ta-Ha-Zouka Park in Norfolk and the Norfolk Connector Trail!