About Us


The GTPA was formed out of a vision that began in 1991 when founder Steve Myers took a trip from Minnesota to Wyoming.  On the way, he was struck by the beauty of the open spaces west of the Missouri River.  He wanted a way to experience this landscape more fully.  Not long after, the seed of an idea for the Great Plains Trail was planted.


The mission of the GPTA is to establish, develop, preserve and promote a long-distance, public, non-motorized trail running north/south through the Great Plains region of North America for the purposes of recreation, conservation, education, and inspiration.


The vision of the GPTA is to connect and inspire people, through their own direct experience on the trail, with the beauty, history, weather, and wildlife of the Great Plains.

Our Values

The GPTA has a desire to promote the grasslands of the Great Plains as an important ecological region of the world.  We also work in the spirit of conservation to help protect this region.  The GPTA is also a strong advocate for non-motorized trails and recreation.

By combining these two interests, we seek to create a new kind of recreation experience for people to enjoy, and by extension, a place people will want to preserve.  In this process, we also hope to help develop a more diverse and vibrant economy for the people who live in the Great Plains region.

Our Board


705Steve Myers has over 20 years of experience as an educator.  He has worked as an outdoor science school instructor, an interpretive river guide, and a classroom as well as mentor teacher.  Steve is also an accomplished carpenter and runs a small handyman business. Steve grew up in Minnesota and learned to love the Great Plains during his many travels through them on the way to spend his summers in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park.  Steve is an avid hiker and outdoorsman, as well as a dedicated student of the natural and human history of the Great Plains.  He is the founder of GPTA and the author of the Great Plains Trail Blog.




       picture-2908  Robert Pahre is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois – Champaign/Urbana where he teaches Environmental Policy, and the                Politics of the National Parks. Though a native of the forests and mountains of Washington State, Robert’s years living in Illinois have taught him to            appreciate the prairies and the Great Plains.   He is currently writing a book about the various National Park units found in the Great Plains.



photoKevin Purdy is a retired teacher, active travel tour leader, and the founder of Trailsnet.com.  Growing up in northwest Montana, Kevin spent many weekends hiking and backpacking in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area. These days he enjoys traveling throughout the United States, touring as many trails as possible and reporting his findings on the Trailsnet website.



Luke Jordan grew up on a farm in central Minnesota about 30 miles from Minneapolis.  During his college years he started getting into backpacking and volunteered on trail construction crews for the Superior Hiking Trail every summer.  He graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in Natural Resources, and immediately after attempted a thru hike of the North Country National Scenic Trail. He succeeded, and became the 4th person to successfully thru-hike the trail. Since then he’s been involved with several trail organizations, including participating in the Partnership for the National Trail System’s (PNTS) Trail Apprentice Program and doing some work for the North Country Trail. In 2016 he attempted a thru-hike of the Great Plains Trail and succeeded, hiking from Texas to Canada in the spring, spreading the word along the way. He’s here now to help in the efforts to establish the GPT as America’s next great adventure.  Luke’s trail name is “Strider.”


Drew Smith is a long time backpacker, outdoorsman, beer-lover and aspiring ukulelelist whose stories can frequently be found in TrailGroove magazine. He leads trips for the Sierra Club’s ICO program, which provides fun, free and safe wilderness outings for kids who would not otherwise have the opportunity. He has been camping and exploring Colorado’s eastern plains since the 1980’s.




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