Bennet Bill Could Lead to National Historic Trail Designation for Pike's Trail

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today reintroduced a bill to review a possible national historic trail designation for Pike’s Trail, which runs through significant stretches of Colorado. Pike’s Trail follows Zebulon Pike’s expedition into the American Southwest that began in St. Louis in 1806. The bill, cosponsored by Senator Mark Udall, holds the support of local officials throughout Colorado.

Bennet’s bill would amend the National Trails System Act to request that the National Park Service conduct a feasibility study. If the results of the study lead to a National Park Service recommendation of National Historic Trail Designation, Bennet would introduce a bill formally designating the trail. Congress would then vote on adding the trail to the National Trails System.

“Pike’s expedition - the first American-led effort to explore the Rocky Mountains - is an important piece of history for Colorado and for the American Southwest,” Bennet said. “A Historic Trail designation would ensure the trail’s recognition for generations to come and would create more opportunities for heritage tourism and related economic development in surrounding communities across Southern Colorado and the San Luis Valley.”

Supporting the bill are the San Luis Valley County Commissioners Association, the Bent County Board of Commissioners, the Chaffee County Heritage Area Advisory Board, Custer County Commissioners, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners, Fremont County Commissioners, Huerfano County Commissioners, the Lake County Board of Commissioners and the Teller County Board of County Commissioners.

“Lake County strongly supports the legislation for the creation of the historic Pike Trail,” Mike Bordogna, Lake County Commissioner, said. “Reviving the links between history, exploration and modern day recreation stands to benefit the counties in the Arkansas Valley from a plethora of aspects. We are excited to be a part of this history and for the possibility to introduce new generations to come with the experiences and travels of Zebulon Pike.”

“Our Board endorsed the designation of the Pike Trail because we recognize the value in promoting our history,” Dennis Hisey, El Paso County Commissioner, said. “Designation of the trail will be a welcome addition to the Pikes Peak heritage.”

“The designation of the Pike National Historic Trail will be of great benefit in preserving historical heritage in our region, as well as providing associated educational, recreational, tourism and interpretative opportunities and benefits,” Linda Joseph, Saguache County Commissioner, said.

A National Historic Trail designation does not make the trail federal land. It does ensure that historic trails and surrounding areas, including remains of significant overland or water routes, are officially recognized to reflect the history of the nation.

The National Trails System is a network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968. National Historic Trails commemorate historic routes of travel that are of cultural significance to the entire country.

Pike’s Trail follows Zebulon Montgomery Pike’s expedition into the American southwest that began in 1806, about the same time of the Lewis and Clark expedition across the Northwestern United States to the Pacific coast.

Bennet introduced this bill in both the 111th and the 112th Congress and has now reintroduced it for consideration in the 113th Congress.