About the Trail


The ultimate goal is to establish, develop, maintain, preserve and promote a long distance, public, non-motorized trail running north/south through the short grass prairies of the Great Plains of North America, resulting in a trail that runs from Canada’s Grassland National Park on the U.S./ Canada border to the summit of Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.

The trail will allow for hiking, horseback riding, and in most areas, mountain biking.  Users of the trail can choose to travel a small section of the trail for a day, take a few days to see a larger portion of the trail, or even a whole adventurous season to travel the full length of the trail.

Our current plan in creating the trail is to first build support for the trail, then to create trail sections by linking up with existing trails in public lands, and finally to connect the sections via trails on private lands (where possible) or by way of backroads (where necessary).

Below you will find a map of current proposed route (subject to change) as well as a brief description of the numbered highlights:

  1. The northern terminus of the Great Plains Trail (GPT) is on the U.S./Canada border adjacent to the western section of Canada’s Grasslands National Park.
  2. The GPT will pass through the 3,000,000+ acre American Prairie Reserve as well as the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Montana.
  3. The GPT will take advantage of the forests and views provided by The Black Hills of South Dakota.
  4. Western Nebraska is dotted with pine forests, buttes, and badlands as well as the famous Scotts Bluff National Monument.
  5. The GPT bisects the visually dramatic Pawnee National Grassland in eastern Colorado.
  6. The GPT swings into western Kansas to view the stunning canyons of the Arikaree Breaks.
  7. Comanche National Grassland in southeastern Colorado contains abundant wildlife, an impressive canyon system, and ancient dinosaur tracks.
  8. The GPT will likely follow the Santa Fe National Historic Trail through parts of Kiowa National Grassland in northern New Mexico.
  9. The GPT will drift far enough west to catch glimpses of 10,000+ foot peaks in eastern New Mexico.
  10. The southern terminus for the GPT is high atop the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Wherever the trail goes, to journey along it will be a worthwhile endeavor – be it 1,500 miles or 15 minutes.  Adventure awaits!

 Why the Great Plains?

Simply put, the Great Plains is a national treasure.  It is a region of unique scenic beauty, ecological diversity, amazing wildlife, and rich human history.  It has also been and continues to be a landscape of deep inspiration:

 

“Soul melting scenery was about me.”

– George Catlin (1841)

The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful…for which the speech of England has no name…The Prairies…fitting floor for this magnificent temple of the sky…

– William Cullen Bryant (1866)

“While I know that the standard claim is that Yosemite, Yellowstone and the like, afford the greatest natural shows…but the prairies and the plains, while less stunning at first sight, fill the esthetic sense fuller, precede all the rest, and make North America’s characteristic landscape.”

– Walt Whitman (1882)

“Whatever else a prairie is – grass, sky, wind – it is most of all a paradigm of infinity…there is no such thing as a little prairie, any more than there is a little ocean…”

– William Least Heat Moon (1991)

“There was something about the prairie for me – it wasn’t where I had come from, but when I moved there it just took me in and I knew I couldn’t ever stop living under that big sky.”

– Pam Houston (1992)

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