The time has come to begin to lay down some specifics about the Great Plains Trail. In recent days, there has been an uptick in curiosity about this proposed trail. I am delighted to find out that there are more people out there who “get it,” and are genuinely excited about the prospect of a National Scenic Trail in the Great Plains region.
I am currently working on a map of a potential route for the trail. There are, of course, endless possibilities and options for where the trail could eventually go. My goals in this are to keep to available public land where possible, and to endeavor to find the most interesting and scenic places that have one or more of the following attributes: abundant wildlife, topographical variety, geological intrigue, historical significance, or proximity to water.
What follows are some general highlights of some places where I see the trail going. This is so far a big scale idea, and smaller details will emerge as progress allows. For now, you can grab an atlas and enjoy what I am calling the “Top Ten” places to see along the Great Plains Trail (the order is not in typical “top ten” style, but instead lists highlights going from north to south):
- 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.
- 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.
- The GPT will take advantage of the forests, lakes, creeks and views provided by The Black Hills of South Dakota.
- Western Nebraska is next, dotted with pine forests, buttes, and badlands as well as the famous Scotts Bluff National Monument.
- The GPT bisects the visually dramatic Pawnee National Grassland in eastern Colorado.
- The GPT swings into western Kansas to view the surprising canyons of the Arikaree Breaks.
- Comanche National Grassland in southeastern Colorado contains abundant wildlife, an impressive canyon system, and ancient dinosaur tracks.
- The GPT will follow the Santa Fe National Historic Trail through parts of Kiowa National Grassland in northern New Mexico.
- The GPT will drift far enough west to catch glimpses of 10,000+ foot peaks in eastern New Mexico.
- The southern terminus for the GPT is high atop the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Teaxas, in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
I welcome any comments, questions or suggestions you may have about the finer points of this larger vision. In upcoming blogs, I will continue to spell out additional ideas about where the trail will pass, what the trail will look like, and how all of this will be accomplished.