Backpacking

Doggin’ Toadstool Geologic Park: Hike With Your Dog In Nebraska’s Badlands

America’s badlands received their ominous name when early settlers found it

impossible to safely roll a wagon through the cracked lunar landscape in the Upper Midwest. Our most famous badlands are preserved in national parks in the Dakotas – and off limits to canine hikers.

To give your dog a chance to explore these unique lands of sculpted rock,

head south from the Dakotas to the lesser-known badlands of the Nebraska

panhandle. Here in the Gala National Grasslands you will find dog-friendly

Toadstool Geologic Park where the relentless tag-team of water and wind have

carved fanciful rock formations into the stark hills.

The “toadstools” form when underlying soft clay stone erodes faster than the

hard sandstone that caps it. You can hike with your dog on a marked, mile-long

interpretive loop that leads you on an educational adventure through these

badlands. Your dog is welcome on the hard rock trail but you can also explore off

the path for close-up looks in the gullies at fossil bone fragments that lace the

rocks and 30-million year-old footprints preserved in the stone.

There are some rocks to be scaled along the route but this ramble under

banded cliffs of clay and ash is suitable for any level of canine hiker. There is only

sporadic shade and seasonal streams in this ancient riverbed so bring plenty of

water for your dog, especially in the summer months. Take a break at the end of

the hike in the small fenced yard of the reproduced sod house beside the parking

lot.

For extended canine hikes, Toadstool Park connects to the world-renowned

Hudson-Meng Bison Boneyard via a three-mile trail. This archeological site seeks to

unravel the mystery of how over 600 bison died nearly 10,000 years ago in an area

about the size of a football stadium. Human predation is the leading suspect.

Toadstool Geologic Park is located 19 miles NW of Crawford, Nebraska on US

Forest Route 904 off State highway 2/71. The trail begins at the back of the six-

unit campground.

Related Articles

Back to top button