Saturday, April 30, 2011

Epic Trails on the Horizon

Neighborhood trails are fine for that quick bike ride after work or a family stroll on a weekend. But what about those of us who love to spend full days on the trails... even enjoy planning our vacations around long-distance trails?

Trail Vacations
I've been fortunate enough to travel all over the world and visit castles, cathedrals, theme parks, beaches, and landmarks. But after all that, I've found the most satisfying and fulfilling vacations include lots of time on the seat of a bicycle or in a pair of hiking boots. I enjoy trails for numerous reasons:

  • I can see places I wouldn't see otherwise.
  • I get exercise while touring.
  • The trails are usually less crowded and always have a nice mix of tourists and locals.
  • Long-distance trails often take you to authentic locations like a New England Village or an uncrowded beach.
  • Rail-trails often allow you to view historical sites that are mostly unchanged over the years.
  • Trails frequently go through a nice mix of urban, rural, and suburban.
  • The slower pace of biking trails and hiking paths allow for a better view of the local scenery.
American Discovery Trail
One new trail that is currently being planned and constructed is the American Discovery Trail. It travels east to west (or vice-versa) and spans the entire width of the United States. If traveling from the Pacific Ocean, you would venture through California, Nevada, Utah, and into Colorado where the trail splits into two tracks near Denver. The north track takes you through Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. The south track takes you into Kansas Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The trails come back together near the three-points region of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. Then the trail continues through Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington D.C.
The ADT connects five national scenic trails such as the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. It also connects 10 national historic trails and 25 national recreation trails.

Great Plains Trail
Proposed map of Great Plains Trail
In the very early stages of planning, the Great Plains Trail runs north/south, like the Pacific Crest and Appalachian. In fact, it is our inland version of those two trails. It travels through seven states including Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas. The GPT will highlight the best of the Great American Plains including such beautiful areas as the American Prairie Reserve, Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Black Hills, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Pawnee National Grasslands, Arikaree Breaks, Cammanche National Grasslands, Santa Fe National Historic Trail, and Guadalupe Peak in Texas.

You have a rare opportunity to get involved in these trails from the start and watch as they progress and come to fruition. I hope you become a part of history by following the development of two larger-than-life trails. Please let me know what part you play in the development of these great American classic trails.



Anonymous said...

Very exciting! Hiking long distance trails, even a portion of them, is an experience no one ever forgets.

greatplainstrail said...

Very exciting! Hiking long distance trails, even a portion of them, is an experience no one ever forgets.