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  1. #1

    Default America's Newest & Most Inclusive Long Distance Trail

    Most of you probably haven't heard of the Great Plains Trail... yet. But the GPTA Board of Directors is working to change that.

    The Great Plains Trail is a proposed 2200 mile long-distance trail that will run from near the Canadian border all the way down to Guadalupe Peak in Texas. By the time it is finished, it will include at least seven states, five state high points and some of the most iconic & gorgeous scenery in the world.

    The trail is proposed to be open to hikers, backpackers, nordic skiers, snowshoers, equestrians and bicyclists; as such, it will be one of the only long-distance trails that is available to such a diverse range of outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. 2016 was a great year for the Great Plains Trail when Luke (Strider) Jordan completed the very first through-hike of the entire route thus proving that it can be done. Over the years, the route will likely change to take advantage of the best features of the historic Great Plains. But the general trail route has been mapped and the future looks bright.

    The Great Plains Trail Alliance (GPTA) would love to hear from other long-distance trail enthusiasts, planners and travelers as we continue to blaze our path into 2017. We want to add the Great Plains Trail to the list of current legendary trails such as the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. Feel free to visit the Great Plains Trail website and/or add your thoughts to this forum. We look forward to reading your suggestions and feedback.

  2. #2
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    That looks really cool. It goes through some nice areas. I like the idea of a less mountain focused trail.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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    In the shadows AfterParty's Avatar
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    Looks more like the front range trail then the great plains.
    Hiking the AT is “pointless.” What life is not “pointless”? Is it not pointless to work paycheck to paycheck just to conform?.....I want to make my life less ordinary. AWOL

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    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AfterParty View Post
    Looks more like the front range trail then the great plains.
    Should be closer to the Mississippi on either side of the river.

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    CDT - 2013, PCT - 2009, AT - 1300 miles done burger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    Should be closer to the Mississippi on either side of the river.
    You could not have a long-distance trail through the plains much further east than the GPT. As you go further east, it's more and more privately owned cropland. Farmers don't like people walking through their wheat and corn fields (and hikers don't enjoy getting sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, either).

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    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by burger View Post
    You could not have a long-distance trail through the plains much further east than the GPT.
    Good point about the public lands available. Most of the public land is on the High Plains portion of the Great Plains.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    Good point about the public lands available. Most of the public land is on the High Plains portion of the Great Plains.
    natural trail name for this: high plains drifter

  8. #8
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    The Great Plains are very much in Colorado, Wyo, Nebraska etc and not necessarily that close to the Missippi River.

    111433-004-39649E97.gif

    The western portion of the Great Plains is known better as the High Plains.

    Just from own travels...



    SD:




    NE:



    WY:



    CO:



    NM:




    Badlands in SD is a national parks. The Cheyenne, WY is open space on the high plains.. The others are located on National Grasslands.
    Last edited by Mags; 12-19-2016 at 19:27. Reason: WYO update
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    Beautiful photos Paul!! Thanks for sharing.

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    CDT - 2013, PCT - 2009, AT - 1300 miles done burger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    Ecologically speaking, the route seems to stick to the shortgrass prairie ecosystem, which is the westernmost of the three divisions of the Great Plains (mixed-grass and tallgrass prairie are farther east). See the map here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortgrass_prairie

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    Glad to see some interest here in the GPT! This is Steve Myers writing (trail name Old Uncle Joe) - I'm the founder and creator of the nascent GPT. My guess is that many here are most accustomed to the AT or PCT in terms of amenities, percentage of trail etc. It should be noted that the GPT, by necessity, is a totally different animal. Private land abounds and true trail miles are fewer and further between. That said, there is a huge potential to create more trail as the process moves along.

    One question in this thread is whether or not the trail goes though Denver. The short answer for the short term is yes. We are appropriating Castle Rock Canyon State Park and Cherry Creek trail as temporary ways to connect the trail to more far flung destinations. In the future (10 years?), it will likely be able to pass significantly east of Denver, but that depends on funding and some luck.

    Thanks for tuning in. It's very much a work in progress, but as Mags noted above (thanks for the photos!), the beauty is something that most Americans ignore. It's not anyone's fault. Conventional wisdom has it as flat, dull and unworthy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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    . . . sorry . . . Castlewood Canyon State Park.

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    I have traveled over much of that terrain in a vehicle and it can be amazingly scenic. This could be a very nice alternative to the other long trails.
    “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” –Socrates

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    In the shadows AfterParty's Avatar
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    This is very true most land around me is private. This would be a sweet trail! I just think the name sounds funny when I looked at the map. Lol
    Hiking the AT is “pointless.” What life is not “pointless”? Is it not pointless to work paycheck to paycheck just to conform?.....I want to make my life less ordinary. AWOL

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    doing distance hiking on a trail that allows bicycles does not seem likely to be popular

    horses + bicycles = likely safety issues

    the best idea to me would be make it a bicycle focused trail that allows hikers

  16. #16

    Thumbs up Great Feedback About Great Plains Trail

    Thanks for all the comments already.

    It will be a fantastic trail, but it will take a long time and a lot of work. The GPTA Board is up for the challenge. Hopefully we continue to get lots of public support.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    doing distance hiking on a trail that allows bicycles does not seem likely to be popular

    horses + bicycles = likely safety issues

    the best idea to me would be make it a bicycle focused trail that allows hikers
    I was thinking along the same lines. Allowing bicycles on this trail would discourage me from using the trail. We have a lot of multiuse trails locally and the bikes create a lot of thin ruts that make hiking uncomfortable. I couldn't imagine doing 2000 miles of bicycle rutted trails. How do you prevent that from happening, or are you going to be doing constant maintenance moving trail around as it gets rutted?

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    Guys, I'm not sure you realize 95% of this trail is really, really out in the middle of nowhere. The only place you'll see people at all, let alone any bikes, is near the NP's and such, and bikes are probably not allowed in the NP's.

    (of course, the trail does go right through Denver, along some paved bike trails, so I guess this is an exception, but heck, the trail through Denver is paved, and for that matter, a lot of this particular section has a soft surface path along side the paved bike path)

    I could be dead-wrong, but it doesn't seem likely this trail will be popular with bikers.

    Lots of very popular trails out west are multi use, like the Colorado trail. Bikes are really not any problem for most, Certainly not on this cool looking remote trail.

    Thanks for posting those pics, Mags. The trail doesn't go through any of WY though, which is weird, but I guess western SD is more a high-plains type of area.
    Last edited by colorado_rob; 12-19-2016 at 21:39.

  19. #19
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    The trail doesn't go through any of WY though, which is weird, but I guess western SD is more a high-plains type of area.
    That was more to show the High Plains type areas in general vs the people above who thought that the Great Plains were only near the Mississippi. Many people outside of the American West don't realize the terrain of the plains is beyond Kansas and Nebraska. And when they see photos of the Panhandle, the mind is blown.

    Also, I don't think it goes through Denver. The route goes rather east of it. May you be thinking of the American Discovery Trail instead?

    550b758e0920e.image_.jpg

    Free streaming PBS documentary for if anyone is interested: http://www.pbs.org/program/great-plains/

    Shameless plug for something I wrote:
    http://www.trailgroove.com/issue25.html?autoflip=119
    Last edited by Mags; 12-19-2016 at 22:51.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    Also, I don't think it goes through Denver. The route goes rather east of it. [URL="http://www.discoverytrail.org/states/colorado/"]May you be thinking of the American Discovery Trail instead?
    If you click the map link on the GPT site, it shows the green line going right smack through Denver, perhaps that preliminary or something?

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