If you have never seen the Nebraska National Forest from fifty feet in the air, you should grab your dog and a leash and head on over to the Bessey Recreation Complex where you can begin your three-mile trip to the Scott Lookout Tower. Starting at the end of the campgrounds at Scenic Road, which is off of Nebraska 86-B Spur, you will find the trailhead for the Scott Lookout Trail. The Bessey Campground is open all year long, but the showers and flush toilets are closed from October until May.
The trail takes you through two different national forests, three national grasslands, and the oldest tree nursery in the United States. The entire path, which meanders slowly along the banks of the Middle Loup River for about a mile, is shaded by Ponderosa pine and Norway spruce. This forest is hand planted by Dr. Charles Bessey, who decided that they should replant the forest that had been destroyed by fire or used to build with. Bessey planted over 22 thousand acres of trees that make up this area of the Nebraska National Forest.
The wildlife does not seem to notice that the forest was planted by man. You and your pooch will likely see many different kinds of animals like quail, eagles, coyotes, turkeys, prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, whitetail and mule deer, grouse, prairie chickens, raccoons, foxes, and many more. The sandhills and grasslands along the trail are peppered with a puptastic array of different colors from the native wildflowers that have popped up over the years.
The three-mile walk is a gentle uphill slope on a well-maintained path that can accommodate you and your dog with no problem all the way to the Scott Lookout Tower. This fire tower, built in 1944, is the only fire tower left in Nebraska. It was restored in 2012 and has a stable set of stairs with railings taking you fifty feet to the top. On the deck at the top, you can see up to 10 miles all the way to the Dismal River. You and your fur buddy are sure to love the view where you can take some selfies to remember the trip until you can come back again.