Proposed Southern Great Plains - Interior Highlands Trail

A Prominent New National Recreation Trail

The Southern Great Plains - Interior Highlands Trail has the potential to be the fourth in the Triple Crown of hiking trails (a new name for the four trails will need to be developed). While it will not be as challenging as the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail or the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the estimated 1,800 to 2,000 mile trail will be highly accessible and the most historically-culturally rewarding among them, as it will pass through diverse regions of the Southwest, Southcentral and Southeast. It will span multiple unique landscapes, as it reaches from the Rocky Mountains, across the Southern Great Plains, to the Interior Highlands and Eastern Highlands.

Above is a conceptual map, but significant segments are already developed and in place, including the Northeast Texas Trail and Ouachita National Recreation Trail. Also, note the important resources along its route, from national forests and grasslands (only a few are noted) to the historic Natchez Trace.

The Southern Great Plains - Interior Highlands Trail has many favorable access points, from Albuquerque and Santa Fe to Memphis and Atlanta, but the greater Dallas-Fort Worth region (in close proximity to the Wichita and Kiamichi Mountains) may be the primary starting point for many hikers and recreationists who want to connect with other prominent national trails, since the best development is already underway in Texas and Arkansas. It will first be possible to hike between DFW and Hot Springs National Park or Little Rock, Arkansas through the Interior Highlands.

The future DART Rail Cotton Belt Line (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) and The T's TEX Rail (Fort Worth Transportation Authority), along with the existing A-Train (Denton County Transportation Authority), will provide excellent access to the trail from the entire DFW transportation grid, and help serious through-hikers and recreational users pass safely through the Metroplex.

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