Soldier Creek Wilderness

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

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 within the Pine Ridge section of the Nebraska National Forest bordering Fort Robinson State Park, other Forest Service and private land. Soldier Creek is the larger of two federally designated wilderness areas in Nebraska.

Soldier Creek was originally established as a timber reservation and horse and mule pasture for nearby Fort Robinson. This area has been grazed by livestock ever since Fort Robinson first used it as a horse and mule pasture beginning in 1879. After the Fort was decommissioned the Agricultural Research Service used it for beef research from 1949-1971. The Forest Service acquired the 9642 acre Wood Reserve in 1966 and in 1973 took over management of the grazing.

It has now become a popular destination for horseback riding and other recreational activities. The area provides habitat for elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, turkeys, coyotes, bobcats, eagles, hawks, the threatened Bald eagle and numerous other wildlife. Prior to the Fort Robinson Fire of 1989 much of the wilderness was covered with a ponderosa pine forest. Now the majority of that former forest is grassland. The Middle and South Forks of Soldier Creek flow through the wilderness.

The Trooper and Boots and Saddle Trails marked with trail posts provide access into and through the wilderness. Trailheads are located adjacent to the campground area.  

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.
Burned tree snags in a green grassland setting

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Open year-around. 
Reservations: First-come, first-serve. Six sites, small RVs okay.
Fees: $15 / vehicle/night. Please pay on-site. 
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
  • Certified noxious weed-free hay/feed is required on national forest lands.
  Note: Wilderness areas within National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas allow hunting (in season).
Closest Towns: Chadron, Nebraska
Water: .
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Pine Ridge Ranger District Office, (308) 432-0300.

General Information


From Crawford take U.S. Highway 20 for 2.5 miles to Fort Robinson, then north on Soldier Creek Road for 6 miles. The wilderness is accessed from trails that leave from the Soldier Creek Campground.

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


Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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