The MoPac Trail, west of Omaha, nearer to Lincoln than here is my best available trail for real walking so I can do something outside instead of just treadmill. It’s an old railroad right-of-view, abandoned, that reverted back to Nebraska. Before I moved here they’d built some of that right-of-way (under last Democrat governor) into biking, hiking and running trail. They have right-of-way to Omaha and importantly a couple of bridges, but haven’t built even one more mile in 16 years (even though much of the funding is contributions and private, the state still has to do it and I guess exercise and being outdoors is not a Repug priority).
Anyway, at least it exists. I’ve hiked (and backpacked) in a lot of places so this trail is not exactly exciting and scenic but it can be pleasant. It’s trivial to find so doesn’t exactly need a GPS track or map (does show and labeled on Google Earth) but now I have one anyway. Yesterday I finished the last segment I hadn’t previously walked (I’d bike it all but not yet walked all of it). So here’s my recorded data, with geographical context:
The magenta line is my tracklogs with the one straight jobs near highway 63 from last week when snow drifts were simply too hard and so I walked back along gravel section line roads. The other cyan traces are my driving and recording logs since the smaller roads don’t appear on this map data. Interestingly 34, otherwise known as O street (main street of downtown Lincoln) is slightly offset from where I measured. I don’t understand this as both the map data and my handheld recording of data are both from Garmin and use the same datum, but they don’t align.
Zooming in the X is where the trail crosses 34 (both measured with handheld GPS and plotted from Google Earth) but Garmin’s data (due to the offset to north) claims intersection would be further east. Now, in fact, yesterday I parked my car at the green dot labeled 190 (where 190th north-south street) crosses the trail and that is, without any doubt north of 34. So Garmin’s map data is wrong (or projected wrongly in their app). There doesn’t seem to be any east-west displacement (longitude) as my track driving north on 34 (a bit to east of the above image) aligns with the Garmin data.
The other points I noted with my handheld was marking a waypoint when standing at the various mile markers, e.g. 8M-1, 7M and 6M. I’m not convinced these are quite accurate (the posts, not my measurements) as I don’t know exactly how this was surveyed.
Now I’ve done 77.7 miles, always out-and-back in my recorded tracks. Some sources claim 26 miles, others 22 miles, possibly the confusing is whether the trail is just labeled “east” MoPac (starting 84th street in Lincoln) with a local city extension going further to the west. The furtherest mile marker I’ve recorded is 17M and that’s certainly more than 5 miles to the end of the trail (not sure if there are more markers and I just didn’t record them, only recently started doing that record), so let’s go with 26 miles. That means I’ve got about 300% coverage (a bit less since some of measure tracklog segments are not on the trail). That’s not enough to generate a really accurate track but I hope to do so someday.
Yesterday was a pleasant hike, good weather (hiking in summer is pretty miserable) and better than last week where I had to clamber through (sinking in) snowdrifts. A few muddy spots and quite a few ruts (which wear down) where bikes went through the soft areas as the drifts were melting. Since this is an old railroad, some declivities are filled and there are cuts through the acclivities so that the grade is quite level, with bridges over the significant waterways. So with a good surface (packed limestone aggregate) and flat trail this is easy walking. But some amount of land surrounding the trail is owned in commons and thus allowed to revert to nature so parts of the trail can be quite isolated from nearby (really near) highways and all the cornfields and at least create the illusion of a woodlands natural trail (not exactly the AT, certainly not the PCT, but better than the urban Keystone I’ve mentioned, under this tag, in Omaha).
So now I’m done with all the segments and I want to move onto something longer. Trouble is then I’ll need a shuttle. I’ve thought about doing the entire length but given my longest hike to date is only 11 miles, 26 miles is too ambition. But 15 is probably doable and if I start in the country, to the east, I can end my hike at an OK Mexican restaurant with reliably cold beer and decent margaritas while waiting for my ride back to the car (any takers if any locals read this? as a shuttle partner).
I hate the idea of burning a couple gallons of gasoline and emitting the resultant CO2 to do something healthy (and green) like hike, but alas, it is my only choice, short of an extended duration long walk somewhere else in the world (which I still dream of doing but haven’t worked up to yet).
So while I’ve been on a lot more interesting trails, thank you Nebraska for at least doing your best and creating this one. Lots of people use this trail and I’m sure we’re all thankful that walkers get some attention and priority from a state that isn’t exactly either an ourdoor state or certainly a green state. But count the blessings where they exist.