Cottonwood Loop Trail is a very easy family friendly hike in Homestead National Monument near Lincoln, Nebraska. All trails in the monument go through a restored tallgrass prairie ecosystem, which is what homesteaders would have encountered along the Great Plains pursuing a dream. Pets are not allowed on any trails in the monument. Be sure to stop at the heritage center before hitting the trail. Camping is not available at Homestead National Monument.
Homestead National Monument preserves part of the first successfully claimed acreage under the 1862 Homestead Act. The Homestead Act gave 160 acres of land to any willing and able-bodied person, including women some 60 years before they were granted the right to vote. To “Prove up” a homesteader was required to make improvements on the land including, building a house, breaking the soil and planting crops for a minimum of five years. This was backbreaking work before the time of motorized machinery. To plow one acre of ground, it required walking roughly 10 miles, to plow 10 acres it required walking 100 miles. The promise of free land from the federal government created an influx of immigrants in search of their fortune. In all, 270 million acres of land or about 10 percent of the nation was given away to anyone seeking a “fair chance.”
Contact: Homestead National Monument of America 8523 West State Hwy 4 Beatrice, NE 68310