MoPac Rail Trail – Big Plans For A 50-Mile Combined Metro-Rural Trail in Southeastern Nebraska

The full MoPac Trail is being built along the old Missouri-Pacific belt corridor between Lincoln and Omaha. Currently, it has four completed sections.

1. MoPac West: about 6-miles of paved metro trail owned by Lincoln and extending from 84th Street westward through parks, communities, business areas, and the university via overpasses and street crossings.

2. MoPac East: 22-miles of packed limestone extending from 84th Street eastward through the countryside and four small towns (Walton, Eagle, Elmwood, and Wabash), ending at the last one. It is owned and managed by the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District.

3. MoPac North: 3-miles of packed limestone extending north of Springfield, which is about 10-miles southwest of south Omaha.

4. MoPac South: 4.5-miles of packed limestone extending south of Springfield toward Louisville. The pedestrian bridge over the Platte River there is completed. But it ends abruptly on the opposite side.

The first two sections are actually connected at 84th Street with a full service trailhead. From there, I rode the MoPac East section out and back in late September, 2011. This section also has an adjacent equestrian trail named after Charles L Warner that weaves back and forth over the limestone one. It is marked and mowed down. This arrangement allows the horses to grab a bite or two. Also, the larger creeks, bridges, and canopies on this trail are located toward its far eastern end. Many walnuts were lying on the ground when I was there.

Additionally, the MoPac East does not have full-service trailheads beyond 84th Street. Users who intend to do all of it could carry their own energy food and water. A few side benches are available for resting. The heaviest traffic occurs between 84th Street and the town of Eagle, 11-trail-miles further east.

MoPac-East specifics.

  • End points: 84th & Hazelwood Streets, Lincoln, to 322 Street, Wabash
  • Counties: Lancaster, Cass
  • Length: 22-miles
  • Width: varies, 10-feet average
  • Corridor width: 70-feet average
  • Type: rail-trail; flat w/minimal grades; out and back; easy
  • Surface: crushed limestone over a thick bed of rock and ballast
  • Uses: (wheelchair accessible); bicycling, hiking/walking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, nature hikes, club outings
  • Wildlife: wooded areas filled with trees, shrubs, wildflowers, prairie grass, and other foliage; coyote, fox, deer, groundhog, rabbit, squirrel, reptile, turkey, pheasant, waterfowl, and upland birds of all kinds
  • Rules: posted at the trailheads; NO camping, fires, fireworks, firearms, intoxication, disorderly conduct, loose or abandoned trash, illegal activity, unleashed pets
  • Potential danger: none, except for crossing the Highways 34 & 63 near Eagle
  • Hours: posted; open year-round; no snow removal
  • Cost: volunteer donation ($1/day or $5/year)

MoPac-East services.

  • 84th Street trailhead: brick building w/large separate running-water restrooms (may wash-up or change clothes there), water fountains, soda machines, paved parking lot. Located 2-blocks south of ‘O’ Street (Hwy-34) where food and other services can be found.
  • 98th & A Streets: 1-mile further east; equestrian parking area.
  • Walton: 2-miles further east; large information board, water fountain, kiosk for volunteer payment if desired, parking area.
  • Eagle: 8-miles further east; next to Hwy-34; gas/convenience stores, grocery, and bar; street parking.
  • Elmwood: 7-miles further east; gas/convenience store when open; street parking; Village Park.
  • Wabash: 4-miles further east; end of trail; no services.

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