Western Nebraska sandhills

Discussion in 'Central – From Da Nort Woods to the Plane States' started by ALinUTAH, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    I'm thinking about a plains trip. Explore the sand hills of western Nebraska, then down into Kansas. I'm wondering what the roads are like in the NE sandhills. I want to ride across the middle, west to east, off pavement.

    Starting at hwy 87 north of Alliance, I'm looking at Cass Rd to 250

    then some unnamed road to 27

    King Ranch and Survey Valley Rd to 61

    Henderson, Cobie and Dry Valley to 97

    Dry Valley and Seneca Rd, or maybe Brownlee Rd

    The Loup River Rd

    Somewhere in there I'll have to ride down to hwy2 and gas up in Thedford or somewhere.

    Are these solid roads with a gravel base, or are they soft, deep sand? I'm trying to figure out which bike would be best. Thanks.

    -al
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  2. flyrodder

    flyrodder Donny, please.

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    Yes!

    Sorry, not a flip answer -- but you will find all conditions on the non-hard surfaced roads out there. What kind of bike will you be on?
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  3. Yossarian™

    Yossarian™ Deputy Cultural Attaché

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    It goes from hard pack to lots of sand and back. Be prepared for slow average speeds; many of those tracks are not often traveled except by locals.
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  4. Yossarian™

    Yossarian™ Deputy Cultural Attaché

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    Some examples:

    Brownlee Road, hard surface:
    [​IMG]

    Hard pack sand and gravel:
    [​IMG]

    McKelvie NF area; heading off highway into sandhills:
    [​IMG]

    Deep sand further south, still by McKelvie NF:
    [​IMG]
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  5. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    My choices are a Wee or my 250cc DS bike. I originally wanted to do it on the mighty 250, nearly the whole ride will be off pavement so it's perfect for that little bike. Once I run out of sand hills I'll jog south into KS, follow the Republican river for a while, visit family in the area. Visit my alma mater in Manhattan. Then ride the flint hills south. Eventually head back west thru the sand hills around Hutchinson and along the Smoky Hill into Colorado. End up around Pueblo. But I'm thinking I should do it before it gets too hot out in the plains, so early June at the latest, which means I won't be able to ride the high country back thru Colorado. So I started thinking I'd ride the wee so I could just haul ass home on the highway the last day or two. Depending on the sand. But that last picture is no place for a wee. So maybe I'll just take the little bike. Or I could ride the wee and stick to better roads. But that's no fun. -al
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  6. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    Maybe someone could recommend a route thru the sand hills, west to east, that eliminates or at least minimizes slab, but they know is Wee-friendly? Only that last picture worries me. If it's short spurts, fine, but miles and miles of that kind of sand would be too much on a Wee. Eazy peazy on the mighty 250. -al
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  7. flyrodder

    flyrodder Donny, please.

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    If you are not trying to make too much time, the Wee would be fine (DS tires will help, along with low tire pressures). Paging Fifthcircle. I'd take my GS across most of it, but not if you need to make time. If you've got gravel road experience, I suspect you would be fine.

    Only two real hard surface roads East to West across the area -- HWYs 2 and 20. HWY 40 NW of Kearney to HWY 92 to Arnold is a great ride -- just on the Southern edge of the Sandhills.

    Your timing will be perfect -- should be green and decent temps out there.
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  8. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    I agree with flyrodder. With that long of a trip, I would run the wee (had one from 04-13...just sold it:cry). I think 80% or 90% of the time you will be fine.

    It will be a trade off though...and I wouldn't want to have to ride across western KS on a 250. If you don't mind that though...the 250 will be much less pucker factor if you find the soft stuff.

    TKC 80 front and either the same or heidi K60 rear would be best bet for tires on the wee. I wouldn't run anything less aggressive.

    The gravel up there is nice, but can be deep in places. It's the really small pea gravel, not big rock gravel. If you get on sand, it usually is isolated to smaller areas, with a mile or two. You can also, usually, find a parallel road that's gravel if needed once you get to the S.E. of the Sandhills area.

    Either way though, it should be a cool trip. I will try and get a min to look at your specific route and see if I can tell what those roads are actually like. :dunno
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  9. WESTNEGSRDR

    WESTNEGSRDR n00b

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    hi al im located in gordon ne smith lake on hwy250 is an excelent camping place no park permit required survey valley roads are usually very good,roads going east of hwy 61 are very good also hope this helps
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  10. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    I just got those roads from gazing at google maps. I figure that roads with actual names might be a little more civilized than all the other unnamed grey lines through the area. I was just looking again and it turns out that the one unnamed road I listed between hwy 250 and 27 is on a regular road atlas so it probably isn't too bad.

    And I'll be in no hurry. I just plan on roaming around for a week or two. So I can search around if I feel I need to. Exploring is the whole point. I think you've convinced me to just take the new Wee. Worst case scenario I can deploy the outriggers.

    Al
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  11. flyrodder

    flyrodder Donny, please.

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    Did we meet at Copper Mountain last summer?
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  12. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    Cass Rd to 250.... Looks like that turns into ranch roads, and ends up in a pasture prior to getting to 250. HERE ON GOOGLE MAPS It also appears that the next couple sets of roads are similar, in that they are ranch/pasture tracks. As long as you don't get lost in a huge pasture of hills with no good track through it, I think it will be doable. Never know until you get there though. There will most likely be gates. Open and close/ride at your own discretion.
    Anyone else have input on this??
    I know there are a lot of "cattle guards" out there, and that would be a good thing for you. Just rumble over them, and carry on.

    Looking at how "deep into" the sandhills you are wanting to go :clap:clap:clap I would now like to possibly retract my wee strom statement. Some of those ranch roads/pasture tracks will be two track, and all sand. Very cool, but possibly quite rough and/or sandy. I would love to try that route with my DRZ though! I really hope you take good notes (GPS?) and share with us. I've always thought a "Trans Nebraska" route, up through that area would be fun to have mapped out.

    By the way, Alliance is a crappy town, don't bother staying there. Plan a place to camp away from there and you will be (pun intended) a Happy Camper. ;)

    :clap:clap:clap
    :ear:ear:ear
    :lurk:lurk:lurk:lurk


    EDIT:
    Here is a pic from my Sportsmans Atlas of the same area that I linked on Google maps.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
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  13. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    It looks like I can jog north from Cass Rd and come out at smith lake. I'm a little concerned about public access though. Don't want to be trespassing. Or backtracking for miles when I run into gates. I'm hoping that the named roads further east mean that they are public roads.

    Maybe it would be best to just start the trek at hwy 250. I could launch from Scottsbluff/Bridgeport and check out Crescent Lk NWR and go north from there up 250 before heading east.

    The little DS would definitely give me more options. And even though some people think a 3000 mile ride on a 250 is nuts, I really enjoy it. I did 2200mi in 10 days last summer, up in Idaho. Didn't want it to end. I'm actually looking forward to exploring western KS and eastern CO because even though I was born and raised in KS, I never spent any time out there. The only problem would be picking my way thru Colorado at the end, to stay off of hwy 50. But it can be done. The way things are going the high country might be open by June.

    Sorry, but I'm an old-skool map guy. Don't own a GPS. But I can definitely report back about what I discover out there.

    -al
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  14. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    BTW, that sportsmans atlas looks handy. Can you comment on the rest of my proposed route? -al
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  15. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    In the pic of your sportsman atlas, the "bitumous" road heading east from Craveth Lk is the unnamed road I mentioned earlier that is actually on my regular road atlas. That seems to be the only road in the area that goes thru from 250 to 27. Too bad it's paved.

    Also, on google maps sat view, if I start at Smith Lk and nearby Orr airport (on 250) and work backwards to the west, it looks like there is a major wide dirt road that turns north and then west again thru those pivot irrigated fields, and intersects 87, north of the dogleg in 87, near St. Peters cemetery. Maybe that's my best bet to get thru.

    -al
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  16. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    I can try, but it takes time since the Google names are not on my Sportsman's Atlas. It is very detailed, with houses, cemeteries and churches marked on it, but the only road names are HWY #s. So when you say you are going to take "unnamed road", that doesn't really help me at all. LOL

    I need to take it in and photocopy the whole darn thing, because I can't find a new one anywhere. If you would like, I can copy all the counties that you need, and mail them to you. Then you can have some sweet old school paper maps. :D

    I suppose I could scan them too....but our scanner quit working a couple years ago. DAMN! Maybe one of my fellow inmate neighbors could assist? The pages are 16" x 11", so it won't fit on a small scanner. :ear

    What's the range on your 250? Quite a few miles between gas stations out there! You could always stop at a ranch and beg for fuel though :lol3
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  17. Yossarian™

    Yossarian™ Deputy Cultural Attaché

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  18. fifthcircle

    fifthcircle Beer Knurd

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    THATS IT! :clap You can tell they are hard to come by...$198 new! :huh I think I paid less than $20 for mine at Canfield's back in '98.

    So, who wants one? We can take mine and copy/laminate it at Kinko's. Then we'll all have sweet old school maps ;)
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  19. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    Wow. I was gonna say I'll just buy one at Amazon if that's it. But at that price I might take you up on your offer. Old school paper maps are so cool. Even better if they're bootlegged. :D

    Basically, between hwy 2 on the south and 20 on the north, and from 87 to about US183 is the area I'm looking at. But depending on the scale of your maps, that might be way too much to copy, so I could narrow that down more.

    I'll PM you my address.

    -al
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  20. ALinUTAH

    ALinUTAH Been here awhile

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    Oh BTW. I can go 300 miles depending on which gas can I carry. So I'm good. I have a short list of gas stations in my notes at home. Maybe I should verify that at some point. One thing I remember off the top of my head is Thedford. I'm gonna have to detour to either 2 or 20 at some point just for fuel. Another option I thought about was angling up to Valentine, gas up, then work my way back south.

    BTW, what's the deal with the Samuel McKelvie National Forest up by Valentine. It's the brownest patch on the whole map. Did it burn? -al
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