Nestled in the beautiful Blue River Valley, the Chief Standing Bear Trail is a beautiful 22-mile limestone trail that runs south from Beatrice to the Kansas state line. This trail alongside offers scenic woodland and river views with glimpses of rare vegetation and wildlife along the way. Each of the trailheads at Beatrice, Holmesville, Blue Springs and Barneston offers full rest stop facilities with insights into the area’s rich history as well as landscaping in a variety of delightful themes.
The Nebraska Trails Foundation, led by Ross Greathouse and Lynn Lightner, raised $1 million for design, development and maintenance of the Chief Standing Bear Trail, which was completed in 2017. The Nebraska Trails Foundation donated the trail segment and 230 acres of land to the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. The trail is maintained by the Homestead Conservation and Trail Association, a nonprofit corporation whose primary purpose is to advocate and support a network of trails throughout Gage County, Nebraska.
The Chief Standing Bear Trail has significant historical value as the former Union Pacific right-of-way coincides with the route followed by Chief Standing Bear and the Ponca Tribe when the tribe was forced to relocate from Niobrara, Nebraska to Oklahoma in 1877. The journey is called the Trail of Tears because so many children died along the way, including Standing Bear’s granddaughter.