Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D) and Cory Gardner (R) introduced legislation that could lead to the designation of explorer Zebulon Pike’s route through the American Southwest—including significant stretches in Colorado—as a National Historic Trail. The Pike National Historic Trail Study Act would direct the National Park Service to conduct a feasibility study on designating the trail.
Bennet introduced earlier versions of the bill in past Congresses and testified in support of the bill at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks hearing in 2013. A video of Bennet’s testimony in support of the bill is available HERE.
“Two centuries after explorer Zebulon Pike made his journey across the West, it’s time we designate the Pike National Historic Trail,” said Bennet. “This legislation—widely supported by local governments across several states—not only recognizes an American trailblazer and the rich history of the West, but also would boost local tourism and provide opportunities for economic development in communities along the trail.”
“Zebulon Pike, the namesake of Pikes Peak, is known throughout Colorado and the West as a trailblazer who explored the country’s new territory following the Louisiana Purchase, and I support cementing his legacy by naming the route he took as the Pike National Historic Trail,” said Gardner.
“Formal recognition of the explorations and military service of General Zebulon Pike, represented by this trail designation, is a great way to engage kids, of all ages, to learn more about America's rich history and the inspirational pioneers that devoted their lives to help establish our Great Nation,” said Brian Pike, the Great-great-great Grand Nephew of Zebulon Pike.
“The Fremont County Commissioners strongly support the designation of the Pike Trail because we recognize the value of promoting our heritage,” said Tim Payne, Board Chairman for the Fremont County Commissioners. “Designation of the trail will be a welcome addition to not only the history of our region but for tourism as well.”
In 1806, Zebulon Montgomery Pike, an American brigadier general, journeyed through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and into Colorado. Near present-day Pueblo, he turned north to climb a mountain in the distance. His route in El Paso County would parallel Interstate 25 to the south side of Colorado Springs, turn through the Broadmoor area to Old Stage Road, and follow that dirt road to Mount Rosa. The summit would later be named in his honor as Pikes Peak.
National Historic Trails commemorate historic routes of travel with distinguished cultural significance to the entire country. The National Trails System is a network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails as established by the National Trails System Act of 1968.
A copy of the bill text is available HERE.