The Trail: From South to North

DSC00921I’m always doing things from north to south.  Let’s switch gears and take a general (not too detailed because the route will remain a very fluid thing in many areas for a long time to come) look at the Great Plains Trail from south to north.  Break out the atlas and check it out.

The southernmost parts of the route are essentially wide open desert lands with significant topographical relief only in the Guadalupe/Lincoln NF areas.  Other areas are flat to rolling with some distant hills.  Here are the first few southernmost sections.

**It should be mentioned that there are many challenges along the GPT route.  Lack of water, and lack of public campgrounds (in some areas) are chief among them.  Anyone interested in planning to walk the GPT (even shorter sections) will need to plan ahead and have some vehicle support along the way.**

  1.  Southern Terminus:  Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountain National Park – The high point of Texas

2.  Follow the Tejas Trail north through the park, then east on the McKittrick Canyon Trail

3.  From the McKittrick Canyon Visitor Center, take the Wilderness Ridge Trail all the way into Lincoln National Forest, and the Texas/New Mexico border.

4.  Follow one of several forest service roads to the town of Queen, then north on mostly trail to Sitting Bull Falls.

5.  Follow the road out of Sitting Bull Falls north and east through mostly BLM lands to Brantley Lake State Park.

6.  Backroads or the main highway take you north to the town of Artesia, New Mexico.

7.  Continue north through the towns of Hagerman and Dexter to Bottomless Lakes State Park.

8.  Go through parts of Roswell, New Mexico to the Salt Creek Wilderness.

As with many parts of the GPT, the southern sections will let you know right away that this is NOT the Appalachian Trail.  This is wide-open western adventure, just like so many experienced in the westward expansion era of the 1800s.  OK, maybe not exactly like that, but is it adventurous?  Absolutely, and that’s what the Great Plains Trail is all about!

About greatplainstrail

Building the Great Plains Trail.
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4 Responses to The Trail: From South to North

  1. bubbasuess says:

    Was there ever any consideration for routing the trail over the Capitan Mountains, through Fort Stanton or over the White Mountains? Further south, it would have to pass through the Mescalero Apache Reservation, but they may be amenable to building an actual trail and this would allow for a lot of roads to be bypassed. It would not be too hard to connect the Cloudcroft area to the Guadalupe Mountains portion of the Lincoln National Forest. Sure, a lot of that is not plains, but it would be a nice, prolonged climax to the entire journey, when coupled with the NP in Texas.

    • We definitely considered this route, and I would say there still is some possibility that it will go that way. In addition to what you mention about not really being on the plains anymore, there are some navigational issues with very few routes leading north/south. There would be a lot of zig zagging, but I suppose a real trail could solve some of that. I’d say it’s still a realistic possibility.

      • bubbasuess says:

        I would think that any time trail could be utilized, the trip would be better. Of course, it is total speculation whether the reservation would allow such an endeavor. I would think that there are reasonable ways they can use it to raise revenue, but one never knows. Obviously the moving to higher elevation, off the plains could be problematic to the purpose of the route, but the Sacramentos and Guadalupes are such sky islands, it seems a little more reasonable. I have not looked at a land ownership map, but has any consideration been given to establishing a route east of the Pecos, along the Mescalero Escarpment been considered? There is a lot of BLM and state land over there and the ridge is pretty cool. It would make a neat environment for a trail, especially if it weaved through the rocks below the ridge, then climbed up to the top for a while then dropped back down. It would certainly be an interesting route and more in keeping with the plains.

        • That’s a nice area, and the route crosses it here and there especially north of Ft. Sumner, but the main issue out there is its remoteness and distance from towns. Unlike other long-distance trails, there is no water on the GPT, so resupply would be tough and there’s no way to carry enough water. That said, if any kind of trail culture develops, there could be caches of supplies along the way or “trail angels” providing support from the nearest communities.

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