“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
Most people are already familiar with the Appalachian, Continental Divide and the Pacific Crest Trails. All three trails traverse the United States from north to south. However, there's a great void within the middle of the country with respect to a national border-to-border trail. That could change if one mans vision comes to fruition.
Over the last year-and-a-half, Steve Myers, a 5th-grade teacher from Colorado, has been pushing the idea for a "Great Plains Trail". Last week Myers told the National Parks Traveler:
"I believe the Great Plains is an often overlooked national treasure with remarkable scenic qualities, incredible wildlife, and a rich human history. I believe the best way to experience the beauty of the Great Plains (or any place for that matter) is through direct experience and recreation."
Mr. Myers' ultimate goal is to establish a long distance, non-motorized trail that passes through the short grass prairies of the Great Plains. He envisions a trail that will run from Canada’s Grassland National Park on the U.S. / Canadian border in Montana, to the summit of Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.
In between, day hikers and thru-hikers will pass through the American Prairie Reserve and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Montana, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Pawnee National Grassland in eastern Colorado, Arikaree Breaks in western Kansas, Comanche National Grassland in southeastern Colorado, and will likely follow the Santa Fe National Historic Trail through parts of Kiowa National Grassland in northern New Mexico.
As currently envisioned, the trail will allow for hiking, horseback riding, and in most areas, mountain biking. Eventually, Myers would like to see the trail be designated as a National Scenic Trail.
I know many people might scoff at this idea, but I'm in total agreement with Steve that the Great Plains are truly beautiful, and worthy of a national scenic trail. Non-believers just need to slow down and explore the region, and all it has to offer.
For more information, or how to get involved, please click here.