Soldier Creek Wilderness


Pack string in Soldier Creek Wilderness

Soldier Creek Wilderness was created by an act of Congress in 1986 and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. It covers an area of 7,794 acres (31.54 km²) within the Pine Ridge section of the Nebraska National Forest bordering Fort Robinson State Park.

The region, which was originally established as a timber reservation for nearby Fort Robinson, was utilized by the U.S. Cavalry from the late 19th century through World War II for its excellent horse pastures along Soldier Creek. The area now provides habitat for elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, turkeys, coyotes, bobcats, eagles, hawks, the threatened Bald eagle and numerous other wildlife. Here the ponderosa pine-covered ridges of northwest Nebraska give way to grassy upland parks.

The Wilderness is recovering from a wildfire that destroyed about 90 percent of the pine trees in 1989, which is slowly rebounding. Several well-developed trails loop through the area. A series of trails pass two windmills that are still functioning, even though they are not maintained and are over 100 years old. A popular destination for horseback riding, the wilderness is the larger of the two federally-designated wilderness areas in Nebraska. Horse packers can saddle up at the Soldier Creek Trailhead corral.

Please always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep this area wild, clean, and pristine.

Key access points:

  •  Soldier Creek Camping area and corral - the Wilderness can be accessed from 3 trailheads in the campground including:
    • Boots & Saddle Trail is approximately 7 miles, accessed from the North Fork Trailhead, and ties into the Trooper Trail.
    • Trooper Trail Loop is approximately 10.5 miles access from Middle and South Fork Trailheads.

The U.S. Forest Service, Region 2 Specialty Pack String

Wilderness area pack string in Soldier Creek Wilderness.

The U.S. Forest Service, Region 2 Specialty Pack String is used by the Forests to help manage and maintain wilderness and back country areas where vehicles cannot travel. These animals are really effective for packing supplies and tools into rugged and remote areas to accomplish a wide variety of work.

The Pack String is a unique way the Forest Service has to educate the public we serve about minimal impact recreational principals and techniques. Managed by Lead Packer Glenn Ryan, the Regional Pack String proudly serve as ambassadors to the public and represent the history and legacy of the U.S. Forest Service. 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Note: In 1989 a large fire burned in this area.  A few snags remain so please be aware of falling hazards.  
Usage: Light-Medium
Restrictions: Wilderness restrictions apply
  • Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is prohibited. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters. Although camping and fishing are allowed with a proper permit, no roads or buildings are constructed and there is also no logging or mining, in compliance with the 1964 Wilderness Act. 
  • Groups are limited to 25 persons and/or livestock.
Note: Wilderness areas within National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas allow hunting (in season).
Closest Towns: Chadron, Nebraska
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Pine Ridge Ranger District Office, (308) 432-0300.

General Information

General Notes:

Topo maps

Forest Service Topography Maps: These maps overlay Forest Service assets, such as roads, trails, and campgrounds, on USGS's topographic maps. They are available for download by quadrangle.

Buy maps online

National Forest Store: Offers a full, nationwide selection of National Forest, Ranger District, Wilderness, and Specialty Maps for purchase online or by phone, fax, and mail.

Go to for additional maps and information about Wilderness.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

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