Great American Rail-Trail to link up with Casper Rail-Trail

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is working on a 4,000 mile long trails project that would span from Washington to Maryland. Platte River Trails Trust Executive Director Angela Emery says that would eventually link up with the Casper Rail Trail.

“The Casper Rail Trail is featured in the Winter 2019 RAILS-To-Trails magazine as a key gateway trail along The Great American Rail Trail,” reads the Platte River Trails Trust February newsletter. “Like the railroad charted a course to connect the East and the West, the Rails to Trails Conservancy has a vision to create a cross country rail-trail from Washington D.C. to Washington State.”

The cross country trail system would provide multiple use paths geared toward bikers and hikers.

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“Picture yourself … pedaling across the entire country on a safe, seamless and scenic pathway—or walking a local trail that connects along historic routes,” the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website reads. “The experience of exploring America’s heritage, its potential, its beauty and bounty, its people and places. The intimacy of taking in all the country has to offer from the most personal vantage point: the trail.”

Emery says the Platte River Trails Trust hopes to extend the Casper Rail Trail to Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park where it would eventually link up with the nation-spanning project. But she says the public needs to tell City Council to help fund the project.

“Platte River Trails is really looking for public support for this project,” Emery said. “We need Casper City Council to know how important this is for Casper.”

The Rails-to-Trails website lists the Casper section of the trail and cites it as an “important connector in one of the largest cities in Wyoming.” Emery said the organization has been in touch.

“They’ve been communicating with us for a couple of years now,” she said. “Casper was identified as one of the Gateway Trails.”

There is one “Gateway Trail” in each of the twelve states along the planned route. The trail would stretch from Washington to Idaho to Montana to Wyoming to Nebraska to Iowa to Illinois to Indiana to Ohio to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, all the way to Washington D.C. and Maryland, according to a map on the website.

People can already register on the Rails-to-Trails website, allowing them to view detailed maps and upload photos of their experiences on the trails. The Casper section has its own page available here.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy announced its commitment to building the Great American Rail Trail in 2017, according to their press release. The release says that over half of the trails are already complete.

“The journey to build the Great American Rail-Trail will be exciting,” reads the release. “The journey across the Great American Rail-Trail will be epic.”

Emery said that anyone who wants to help advocate for the Casper portion of the project should contact the Platte River Trails Trust at 307-577-1206 or
platteriver@wyoming.com.