by Bob Walker with information from the Great Western Trail Association
The Great Western Trail (GWT) is a north-south long distance multiple use route which currently runs from Canada to Mexico through four western states in the United States. The trail has access for both motorized and non-motorized users and traverses 4,455 miles through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. It carries the designation of a National Millennium Trail.
It is the longest truly multiple-use trail system in the world being made up of paralleling and shared routes for all types of trail recreationists. These include hikers, horsemen, bicyclists, cross-country skiers, snow-shoers, motorcyclists, snowmobilers, boaters, ATV and four-wheel drive vehicle users.
The GWT has been created with very little new construction, linking together existing routes approved for the above uses through primarily public lands. It is one of the finest examples in the US of what can be accomplished when all users come together on a mutually beneficial project.
So what’s the problem? The longest federally protected multiple-use, multi-modal trail system corridor in the US has a gap in it called Montana. That hopefully will change! The Great Western Trail Association has contacted groups and individuals in Montana in an effort to connect the Idaho segment with West Yellowstone and through Montana in the long run. Mike Titus, representing the GWT Association, invested many hours in discussions with Bob Walker, Montana Trail Rider News editor, Jason Howell, President of the Montana Snowmobile Association, and various members of the Board of MTVRA in an attempt to make the first connection. Mike met with Forest Service District Rangers in both Idaho and Montana. To date no serious stumbling blocks.
We will provide more information about this important connection in future issues of Montana Trail Rider News. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that Montana will finally become a part of this important long distance, multiple use trail!
GWT Map from Original Plan, Montana Segments Not Currently Designated