The Nine Best State Parks for Horseback Riding • Nebraskaland Magazine

A rider enjoys a ride at Fort Robinson State Park, which has 20 miles of equestrian trails. (Nebraskaland Magazine/Nebraska Parks and Games Commission)

Horseback riding is a great way to get out and see Nebraska’s diverse beauty – via miles of expansive equestrian trails in your state parks.

With beautiful scenery, amenities for horse and rider, and considerable acres to roam, here are nine Nebraska playgrounds and parks that every rider should put on their list for this year.

Fort Robinson State Park: Located in Nebraska’s scenic Pine Ridge, Fort Robinson is a true equestrian paradise. The park offers 20 miles of equestrian trails and excellent accommodations for horse and rider. Put your horse in one of the many stalls available in the large barns, while you relax in a campsite, lodge room or spacious cabin. Many more miles of trails are in the Nebraska National Forest lands adjacent to the fort.

Branch Oak State Recreation Area: Featuring the largest lake in eastern Nebraska, Branched Oak is a popular recreation spot – and equestrian friendly, with 6 miles of interlocking multi-use trails and a horse camp. Trails wind through trees, open meadows and scenic lookouts, and the horse camp offers 15 electric rock campsites, water, restrooms, barbecues, picnic facilities, a accessible mounting ramp, hitch posts and corrals.

Summit Lake State Recreation Area: Named in honor of the Nebraska Game and Parks’ 100and anniversary, the Centennial Trail at Summit Lake offers new opportunities for cyclists in northwest Nebraska. The trail covers over 10 miles and follows the perimeter of the park. It also features a rocky crossing across the lake, a unique feature. Game and Parks plans to add equestrian campgrounds to the park in 2023 or 2024.

Danish Alps State Recreation Area: Take a leisurely stroll around the 219-acre Kramper Lake in the Danish Alps, named after the area’s first Danish settlers. Along with the scenic horse trail, the park also offers a horse campground with 14 horse corrals, hitching stations, and water. Stay to fish, camp and picnic at this Dakota County park.

Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area: Cyclists in this park can enjoy over 6 miles of heavily forested and scenic trails overlooking the lake, making it the perfect outdoor adventure. You can also enjoy a campground with horse corrals, water, restrooms and picnic areas.

Willow Creek State Recreation Area: Located 2.5 km southwest of Pierce, the scenic Willow Creek State Recreation Area offers a 16 km horse trail surrounding the Willow Creek Reservoir and horseback riding campground. The 10 campsites have paved slabs, 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical hookups, a picnic table and a fire ring. This lakeside campground also includes 10 barbless wire fence corrals, hitch posts and a fire hydrant.

Pawnee State Recreation Area: Enjoy a scenic ride around the lake with Pawnee’s 6 miles of multi-use trails. For those wishing to camp with their horses, Pawnee offers a primitive camp that includes picnic tables, drinking water, fire pits and outhouses. The area has mature trees which provide plenty of shade.

Rock Creek Station State Historic Park: Known as the site where James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok began his bloody sniper career, Rock Creek Station has a rich history. Take a trip back in time and ride to this former Pony Express stop and station, which offers 8 km of trails and a horse camp with 20 corrals, water for horse and rider, picnic tables and grills. Additional riding is available in the adjacent Rock Glen Wildlife Management Area, although riders must adhere to special regulations.

Two Rivers State Recreation Area: One of the most popular recreation areas in the state, Two Rivers can also accommodate equestrians. It offers approximately 12 miles of wooded trails in both the recreation area and the adjacent Two Rivers Wildlife Management Area, although trails in this area are closed during hunting season. The park also offers an equestrian campground with fire pits, picnic tables, water and restrooms.

To learn more about these parks, visit A Nebraska State Park Entry Permit is required for each vehicle entering a park.

Clyde P. Johnson