If you love the outdoors, you might want to consider hiking the Western Trail. But before you do, you should know a few facts about this popular hiking trail. You can find out what to expect and how to plan a trip on it by reading our tips and recommendations. Read on to discover more about this famous trail and how you can make the most of it. We’ll cover some of the most popular sections of the trail, as well as some fun facts about the history behind it.
The Great Western Trail started in Texas and stretched from South Texas to Nebraska. It was also known as the Dodge City Trail and Fort Griffin Trail. It connected feeder routes in Kerrville and united cattle for shipment northward. It crossed great Texas rivers, including the Colorado, Brazos, and Pease. It was closed for several years because of the Texas Fever quarantine. Eventually, however, the cattle drovers started to head for other towns, including Abilene, Wichita, and Ellsworth.
The trail passed through the towns of Fort Kearny, Coleman, and Bent’s Fort. Along the way, it branched off to the west and fanned out, taking advantage of grassy prairies. The first major obstacle was the Platte River, which was two to three miles wide and knee deep. It also had pits of quicksand that threatened to engulf travelers’ livestock. After Laramie, the land changed to brown and began a rapid decline in quality. Bison, prairie dogs, and antelope dotted the horizon. In some places, bands of Indians would watch the travelers from a distance.
Markers along the trail were first placed in Montana. In 2009, Ray Klinginsmith, the RI president-elect, suggested an international effort to commemorate the trail. This was an initiative that was adopted by Rotarians from Canada and Mexico. Eventually, a cement marker was installed every six to ten miles along the trail. A few years later, the first markers ascended in Montana. The Great Western Trail is the world’s longest rail and pedestrian trail.
The Great Western Trail crossed the Red River at Doan’s Crossing. Jonathan Doan established a trading post along the trail in 1878. Cattle drovers often made their last stop in the area before crossing into Indian Territory. The wives of cattle drovers created a picnic to commemorate this event and have it annually since then. In fact, the festival was started by the wives of these men in 1884, and has become a Texas tradition.
Travelers started their days at six in the morning. Pilots roused them out of sleep and gave them a break at noon. They continued on the trail until five in the evening. On average, the pioneers walked fifteen miles a day. On some days, they crossed rivers. The Western Trail eventually became an important part of American history. It helped settle the West and defeated many Native American tribes. It’s still a popular trail today.