Hiking The Western Trail
The Western Trail, sometimes called the Chisholm Trail, was the long continuous cattle trail which followed the original routes of the Great plains across the vast Texas plains. When the Civil War broke out in 1863, the booming cotton industry came to life. Soon after, the booming rail trade started up in San Antonio. At the same time, the cattle trade boomed along the Texas Kansas border.
The prosperity of both the rail and cattle industries led to a junction where the two paths met near what is now Laredo. The Western Trail continued its journey southward into New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and all the way to Dodge City, the capital of Oklahoma. The beginning of the American West could be traced in the early maps, when a few longhorned bulls and other cattle were seen roaming around the trails between El Camarillo and Laredo. In these early days, the Western Trail covered an area of about 500 miles from San Antonio to Laredo.
The trail went through present day Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Montana. It traversed the upper portion of the Texas panhandle, and the high range of desert to the south and east. Along its path it passed the confluence of the Landa and Snake rivers as well as the confluence of the Arkansas and Missouri rivers. This long and arduous route took the western trail through the small towns of Presisco, Mineral, Blanco, Texoma, El Camarillo, Carlsbad, Granada, Fresno, Bakersfield, San Miguel, Elko, Santo Domingo, Aiguebe, Carlsbad and Lemonade.
The longest section of the Western Trail was from Texas southward to the Red River, an area which was called Puebla. Puebla is the modern-day site of the City of Puebla. In this area, which is a part of New Mexico, visitors can find a world-class tourist attraction, the Teotihuacan ruins. Approximately one hundred fifty miles of the road trek crosses the Puebla-Red River border where spectacular cliff dwellings known as tamas or zen centers can be found. There are also several miles of trails throughout the city of Puebla which contain fascinating ruins of ancient Aztec culture.
The second section of the road along the west coast of Texas, traveling up and down the Rio Grande Valley, consists of a looping trail along the west rim of the Rio Grande. This loop has numerous marked points along the trail which help travelers locate their way. Within this looping trail are seven miles of hiking and biking trails as well as bird watching and several sections of backpacker trail. There is a section of the western trail which goes through the town of El Paso near the old National Park headquarters. In this town, one can visit historic landmarks such as the Old Town Square, San Antonio Church,o Plaza, and Market Street.
The third section of the road, traveling east across the west rim of the Rio Grande, continues along the south side of the city of Dodgeville. Here, the trail leads riders into the towns of Alpine, Crystal Springs, and Guadalupe. All of these towns have magnificent vistas which include the La Salle Creek Lake, Chihuahuan Desert, and Puebla Peak. Riding along the red river valley, you will see Spanish mission ruins on your way to the western trail’s starting point in Dodgeville. Further along, you will come upon two waterfalls, the Tell Trace Falls and Cushing’s Creek Falls. At the end of your adventure along the west trail, you will be just north of present-day dodge city.