Nebraska National Forest at Chadron


Area Status: Open
Burned tree snags in a green grassland setting

There are two distinct areas of the Nebraska National Forest. This area encompasses the west end of the Nebraska National Forest near Chadron and Crawford and is managed by the Pine Ridge Ranger District. The other distinct area within Nebraska National Forest is located near Halsey in central Nebraska. 

Special places within the Chadron area include Soldier Creek Wilderness and the Pine Ridge National Recreation Area as well as several developed recreation sites for camping, picnicking, or trailheads for access to miles of trails into the wide open spaces of the Nebraska National Forest.

Pine Ridge National Recreation Area is a 6,600-acre area is designed to provide a primitive/semi-primitive recreational opportunity in a natural environment and is managed for non-motorized recreation. Approximately 80 miles of marked trails make up the Pine Ridge Trail system. The easy-to-follow trails accommodate hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers. 

Soldier Creek Wilderness Area offers a well-developed trail system of 17 miles in and adjacent to the Wilderness which allows hikers and horseback riders a variety of trial loop choices.

Overnight camping in developed sites is on a first-come, first-served basis. Campfires are allowed unless restrictions are posted. Backcountry or primitive camping (no facilities) is allowed anywhere on the National Forest. Practicing Leave No Trace principles ensures that the next person to visit will have the same sense of discovery as those who came before.

 

Yellow wildflowers in a meadow near a ridge Soldier Creek Wilderness grasslands Picnic tables and horse corrals in a grassy open camping area Toadstool Geologic Park sign with sites in the background Oaks changing color in the Pine Ridge area

At a Glance

Fees: Fees in designated campgrounds.
Restrictions:
  • Certified noxious weed-free hay/feed is required on national forest lands.
  • Motorized vehicles are prohibited within Pine Ridge National Recreation Area and on Pine Ridge Trail.
Closest Towns: Chadron, NE; Crawford, NE
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Pine Ridge Ranger District 
125 N. Main Street
Chadron, NE 69337
308-432-0300
 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Mountain Biking

Approximately 80 miles of marked trails make up the Pine Ridge Trail system. The easy-to-follow trails accommodate hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers. This trail system consists of several trailheads: East Ash, West Ash, Coffee Mill, Soldier Creek, Spotted Tail, Strong Canyon, Roberts, and Outrider Trailheads. 

Areas for Mountain Biking at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Campground Camping

Overnight camping in developed sites is on a first-come, first-served basis. Campfires are allowed unless restrictions are posted. Be aware of the current fire danger level. Always make sure a fire is dead out before leaving.

Areas for Campground Camping at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Dispersed Camping

Backcountry or primitive camping (no facilities) is allowed anywhere on the National Forest. Practicing Leave No Trace principles ensures that the next person to visit will have the same sense of discovery as those who came before. 

Areas for Dispersed Camping at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Day Hiking

Approximately 80 miles of marked trails make up the Pine Ridge Trail system. The easy-to-follow trails accommodate hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers. 

A well-developed trail system of 17 miles in and adjacent to the Soldier Creek Wilderness allows hikers and horseback riders a variety of loop trail choices. 

Areas for Day Hiking at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Backpacking

A well-developed trail system of 17 miles in and adjacent to the Soldier Creek Wilderness allows hikers and horseback riders a variety of loop trail choices. 

Areas for Backpacking at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Horse Camping

Outrider Trailhead (No Toilet) and Roberts Tract Trailhead & Campground (Vault Toilet) are popular access points to the Nebraska National Forest. 

Areas for Horse Camping at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Horse Riding

Outrider Trailhead and Roberts Tract Trailhead & Campground are popular access points to the Nebraska National Forest. Outrider Trailhead has corrals and a fully accessible rider ramp. Roberts Tract Trailhead consists of horse corrals, a fully accessible rider ramp, modern vault toilet, hand water pump, camp sites, and picnic tables.

The Nebraska National Forest requires all feed and forage transported or used on the national forest or national grasslands to be certified free of noxious weeds and weed seeds. 

Areas for Horse Riding at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Big Game Hunting

Shooting a firearm within 150 yards of a developed recreation site or across a forest road is prohibited (36 CFR 261.10.d.1).  Big Game archery and firearm opportunities include white-tailed and mule deer, and antelope. See Nebraska Game and Parks for license information.

Small Game Hunting

Viewing Wildlife

OHV Road Riding

Always verify approved routes on the Motor Vehicle Use Map. To reduce soil erosion, use existing roads as much as possible. Be sure your OHV is equipped with spark arrestors and other safety features. Contact the ranger district office at 308-432-0300 for area closures or closure due to fire danger.

Motorized vehicles are prohibited in designated Wilderness, Pine Ridge National Recreation Area as well as on Pine Ridge Trail.

 

Areas for OHV Road Riding at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Interpretive Areas

Areas for Interpretive Areas at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Visitor Centers

Picnicking

Areas for Picnicking at Nebraska National Forest at Chadron

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Latitude : 
42.8275

  Longitude : 
-103.0004