Great Plains Trail could put western Nebraska’s premier scenic attractions in national spotlight

Walking from Texas to Canada might be a bigger hike than you ever imagined.

In 2016, as an energetic 25-year-old, Luke “Strider” Jordan entered Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas, taking his first step on a 2,100-mile journey that ended three months later in the North Dakota ghost town of Northgate, near Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge. He was the first hiker to walk the entire Great Plains Trail, passing through the Wildcat Hills and Mitchell Pass on his way to Agate Fossil Beds and points north.

The Great Plains Trail was conceived by Steve Myers, a teacher in Longmont, Colorado. While it is awaiting official status, he envisions it taking adventurers on a cross-continental pathway similar to the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail. If successful, the effort will put some of western Nebraska’s premier scenic attractions in the national spotlight. Myers mapped the route taken by Jordan using existing trails.

He heard about Myers efforts in 2012 and joined the non-profit Great Plains Trail Alliance, a small group of volunteer supporters. The group’s website and Facebook page mention Toadstool Geologic Park, Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Fort Robinson, Scotts Bluff National Monument and Panorama Point, the highest spot in Nebraska, as some of the highest-rated highlights of the trail.

The group hopes to form a network “Trail Angels,” such as bed-and-breakfast innkeepers, ranchers and other nearby residents who might offer hikers space for a tent and a little water and firewood during the longest, most remote segments of the route.

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