Pike National Historic Trail Feasibility Study
The National Park Service is pleased to announce the commencement of the Pike National Historic Trail (NHT) Feasibility Study to evaluate its eligibility and suitability for inclusion as a national historic trail.
The proposed Pike NHT represents the route taken by Lieutenant Zebulon Pike during his 1806-1807 expedition into the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase and the northern provinces of Mexico. The route begins in Fort Bellefontaine, Missouri and ends in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It spans approximately 2,700 miles, intersecting the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana, with an additional 1,000 miles of trail passing through three states in Mexico. The section of trail which traverses Mexico is not eligible for designation as it falls outside of the United States.
The Pike NHT Feasibility Study was directed by Congress in 2019 under the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (P.L. 116-9).
The purpose of the Pike NHT Feasibility Study is to evaluate the national historical significance of the route, as well as the feasibility, suitability, and desirability of designating the route as a national historic trail. Findings of the trail study will be shared with Congress who has the sole authority to enact legislation to designate new national historic trails.
WHAT IS A NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL?
The National Trails System Act of 1968, as amended (P.L. 90-543), calls for establishing trails in urban and rural settings for people of all ages, interests, skills, and physical abilities. The National Trails System includes national scenic trails, national recreation trails, and national historic trails.
National historic trails are routes that are designated by Congress which follow, as closely as possible, the original routes of travel of national historic significance in the Unites States. These trails follow past routes of exploration, migration, social action, struggle, trade, and military action.
The purpose of national historic trails is the identification and protection of historically significant routes and the sites connected to those routes for public use and enjoyment. Each national historic trail bears a unique marker which is used to signify and mark the route. Interpretation can be developed along the route at historic sites to present information to the public about the trail, and reasonable efforts are made to provide access opportunities to national historic trails. However, the designation of a national historic trail is not synonymous with the establishment of public access to a trail, nor does it transfer or convey land ownership or authority. National historic trails often cross state boundaries and a variety of types of land ownership. However, participation by private property owners is voluntary and therefore there may be no impact to private or non-federal lands that national trails cross. Establishment of on-the-ground-trail along a national historic route happens only in partnership with interested and willing parties.
WHAT IS A NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL FEASIBILITY STUDY?
Prior to the designation of a national historic trail Congress typically legislates that a national historic trail study be completed. National historic trail studies provide findings to Congress on the national historical significance of potential routes and speak to the feasibility, suitability, and desirability of designating a route as a national historic trail. It is important to note that national historic trail studies are not decision-making documents, nor do they provide management-level decisions for the trail.
National historic trail feasibility studies are undertaken following specific criteria that are provided in the National Trails System Act of 1968, as amended. The National System Act specifies ten study requirements and three eligibility criteria for national historic trail designations.
Based on experience, trail studies typically take approximately two and half years to complete. After a trail study is completed it is transmitted to Congress. Congress has the sole authority to enact legislation to designate new national historic trails. A few additional steps are required should Congress designate a new national historic trail. One requirement is the development of a comprehensive plan for the management and use of the trail.
The study is presently open for public comment through June 30th, 2021.
Please click on the "Open for Comment" link on the left hand side menu of this page and follow the prompts to provide your thoughts and feedback.
Your input is important to us.
In addition, a series of virtual public meetings will be held in May and June of 2021. Details on the dates and times of these virtual public meetings will be posted here shortly. Please check back for updates.
Thank you for your involvement!
Lillis A. Urban
Project Manager for the Pike National Historic Trail Feasibility Study
Chief of Planning
National Trails Office
National Park Service
1100 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, NM, 87505