Chadron State Park
Cabin Trail and Black Hills Overlook Loop

Valley view

Chadron State park is beautiful - tall pine forests, huge hills, and starkly scenic badlands. Walking through the forest is peaceful and quiet, and exploring the badlands is always an amazing experience.

It's a bit hard finding a single trail that explores all that Chadron State Park has to offer, and I'm not entirely sure the trail I'm documenting is the best that can be achieved as it requires a couple of walks along paved roads.
Regardless, I really enjoyed this hike, and have every intention of doing it again.

From the junction of US 385 and US 20 in Chadron Nebraska, take US 385 south 8.4 miles to the entrance to Chadron State Park.
Take a right into the park, then stop at the visitors center to pay the entrance fee.
From the visitors center, take a right and head south, then a quick right and head north. You will pass over a stream, then the road will go around a long curve left. As the curve straightens out, enter the parking lot on your left.
Note that the parking lot is for the volleyball and tennis courts.
Coordinates for the hike: 42.7100800,-103.0104300
Parking / Trailhead amenities
The paved parking lot is level and large. There is a building with toilets and running water near the parking lot.
Trail observations
The trail exits on the uphill side of the parking lot. For a while the trail is wide and well maintained, with lots of moderately steep climbs and a few descents.
To get to the Black Hills Overlook, you'll need to walk along a paved road for a ways, then along a gravel road. Both give good views of the area as you walk.
From the overlook the trail suddenly turns to a narrow rough track that skirts the badlands. There are a couple of volunteer trails, and it's a little hard to follow the correct trail. Keep an eye out for the reflective yellow arrow signposts and you'll make it through.
After the badlands the trail descends through a grassland into a short wooded canyon, then traverses the campground area and returns to the parking lot via a short stretch of paved road.
Trail statistics
The trail is 5.86 miles long. The sum of all the uphill climbs is 292 feet.
Trail waypoints
0.00 miParkingParking
0.02 miTrailheadTrailhead at top of parking lot
0.08 miGo rightBranch - go right
0.34 miTee leftTee - go left
0.75 miTee rightTee - go right
0.83 miRight on roadTee - go right along the paved road
1.11 miGo leftBranch - go left towards the overlook
1.18 miStay on gravelStay on the gravel road
1.99 miStay rightIgnore the left side branches and stay right
2.40 miGo through fenceFollow the trail through the fence to the overlook
2.48 miOverlookTake the tiny trail on the right of the overlook
2.91 miStay leftBranch - stay left
3.18 miStay rightBranch - stay right
3.66 miGo leftBranch - stay left toward campground (sign)
3.95 miRight to picnicBranch - go right down to the picnic area
3.98 miCut acrossCut across the parking lot to the campground trail sign
4.21 miFollow rightFollow the paved road to the right
4.33 miHead leftHead left along the paved road toward the office
4.50 miEnd of trailEnd of trail
Trail map - Cabin Trail and Black Hills Overlook Loop
Altitude chart - Cabin Trail and Black Hills Overlook Loop Go right Tee left Stay right Go through fence Overlook Stay left Stay right
Difficulty: Easy
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: Badlands
Terrain: Hilly
Trail surface: Dirt
Trail surface: Grassy
Trail surface: Gravel
Trail surface: Paved
Type: Loop
View: Open
View: Overlooks
View: Wooded
County: Dawes County
State: Nebraska
Country: United States of America
Park brochure with conceptual map (PDF)
Outdoor Nebraska sie
Printable trail map in PDF format (45 Mb download)
Printable trail map in PNG format (4 Mb download)
Waypoints in CSV format
Waypoints in KML format
Instructions on using a trail description page
Instructions on using a trail map printout
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