Fort Niobrara Refuge offers two hiking trails, the Fort Falls Hiking Trail and the Wilderness Access Foot Trail. Both trails offer interesting views of wildlife and their various habitats.

Fort Niobrara Wilderness is open to exploration on foot during daylight hours. Camping is prohibited. Access the wilderness area wilderness area
Wilderness areas are places untamed by humans. The Wilderness Act of 1964 allows Congress to designate wilderness areas for protection to ensure that America's pristine wild lands will not disappear. Wilderness areas can be part of national wildlife refuges, national parks, national forests or public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Learn more about wilderness area
via the Wilderness Access Foot Trail near the corrals. Access to the river is from the Refuge canoe launch.

Fort Falls Trail

The Fort Falls Nature Trail allows visitors to experience the habitats and wildlife along the Falls and the Niobrara River. A great trail for all ages and abilities, the Fort Falls Trail is a .8 mile round loop with two trailheads.This trail features the 45-foot-tall Fort Falls Waterfall, along with scenic views of the Niobrara National Scenic River, and scenic overlooks of the six ecosystems that meet at the river's banks. The Fort Falls Upper Trailhead in the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge quickly leads hikers down to the canyon floor using metal walkways and stairs. You can examine every level of the tree canopy on your way, and walk over the stream that feeds the Fort Falls. There is a viewing platform for the Fort Falls where you can enjoy the shade and splash of the water against the canyon floor. Following the stream further, you'll come to the shore of the Niobrara National Scenic River, and the steep walls of the canyon can be seen at a distance along with different soil layers that contribute to the unique geology of the Niobrara River Valley. The trail continues up the river's bank with strategic benches for taking breaks along the way. The Lower Trailhead is located at the Bur Oak Parking Area. The remaining distance of trail leads hikers further up along the canyon wall through deciduous and coniferous forest systems with information signs for learning along the way. Hikers can follow this leg of the trail back to the Fort Falls Upper Trailhead and Parking area.
Trail Length (mi)
Estimated Time
30 Minutes / 1 Hour
Route Type
Kid friendly
View Trail

Wilderness Access Foot Trail

The Wilderness Access Foot Trail allows visitors to hike through the Sandhills to the Buffalo Bridge. Parking is available at the Corrals which is where the trailhead is located. Restrooms are available at the parking area. This moderate trail weaves through the Sandhills making some accents and descents then transitions to the tree lined rivers edge. Various birds, deer and reptiles may be seen along the trail. Hikers will descend and emerge from the trees to arrive at the Buffalo Bridge. The bridge used by the refuge bison herd to cross over the river every fall and spring. Take in the Niobrara National Scenic River from above while on the bridge. Look out for bald eagles as they are known to frequently reside in the trees along the river banks. The wilderness area across the bridge is open to hikers to explore or turn around and retrace the path to the trailhead.
Trail Length (mi)
Trail Difficulty
Difficulty Meter / intermediate
Estimated Time
2 Hours
View Trail