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 the full route using existing trails where possible, and link them to scenic back roads where necessary.  Then, the plan is to create new trails on public lands where we can.  In this way, the trail will evolve slowly over time to incorporate as much actual trail as possible.

What about Private Lands?

Private lands are exactly that – private.  While there may be a few landowners along the way who become interested in hosting a small piece of the trail, the reality is that public roads will be utilized for large stretches of the route.  Great Plains Trail Alliance encourages all users of the GPT to respect the rights of landowners and obey all signage.  If you are not certain whether a particular parcel of land is public or private, please assume it is private, and stay to the road.

Great Plains Trail Alliance also believes that the vast majority of land owners take excellent care of their land, and the scenic quality of the Great Plains is rarely diminished even in large, privately held regions.  Nor is the adventure lessened by traveling on roads.  Many back country roads in the Great Plains are extremely lightly traveled, (sometimes as little as 0-5 vehicles per day), and walking them can be just as rewarding as walking on an established trail.

Below you will find a map of the current proposed route (subject to change). A more detailed version is in the works . . .

Courtesy of The Rapid City Journal

Courtesy of The Rapid City Journal

 

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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