The Santa Fe Historic Heritage Trail was officially opened in 1822, although the trail itself was completed in segments as it forged west and south from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Its value as a route for commerce burgeoned until the railroads were built, around 1900. Much of it was preserved by each of its host states for hiking, biking, horseback riding and other outdoor recreation. Although there are some breaks in the trail, the path of the thousands of people and wagons that traversed it can be followed today through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. With the right gear and information, all or part of the Santa Fe is accessible for a pawrfect hike with your fur-buddy.
While it would take 5 months to hike the entire trail, not including getting from one segment to the next, the many stand-alone trailways make it possible to hike from end to the other in pieces over time. The historical beginning of the trail, marked by a monument in New Franklin near Independence, Missouri, travels west through Kansas to Colorado. The 130-mile Colorado section is part of the Mountain Route and it doesn’t disappoint hikers who love forests, climbing, crystal creeks and lakes. Others can travel the Cimarron Route which is less challenging, but lacking water.
The portion of the trail through Dallas is a mostly urban/suburban hike with 4.5 miles of paved surface connecting multiple parks, from downtown to White Rock Lake. As it enters New Mexico, the Santa Fe Mountain and Cimarron Routes converge, and the trail ends officially at the Plaza in Santa Fe. There is, however, a continuation called the Santa Fe Regional Rail Trail, (once the El Camino) that heads south to the Mexican border near Chihuahua. This segment was used by many traders during the trail’s heyday.
Hundreds of historic sites lie along the Santa Fe’s route, and many chances to almost relive history where the pioneers traveled. With so many furtastic options, choose one or a handful of trails along the Santa Fe to hike with your furry bestie!