Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet reintroduced a bill to review a possible national historic trail designation to Pike’s Trail, which follows Zebulon Pike’s expedition into the American Southwest that began in St. Louis in 1806 and runs through significant stretches of Colorado. The bill counts on 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 is an important piece of the history of Colorado and of the American Southwest as the first American-led effort to explore the Rocky Mountains,” Bennet said. “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.
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 originally introduced this bill late in the 111th Congress and has now reintroduced it for consideration in the 112th Congress. Senator Mark Udall is an original cosponsor of the measure.