The idea for a trail around Pikes Peak was considered by many people for many years, and was finally formalized in the 1999 Pikes Peak Multi-Use Plan. Colorado Springs Utilities and U.S. Forest Service, along with many other agencies and organizations and members of the public, participated in creating the Pikes Peak Multi-Use Plan. There was a desire for a nonprofit organization to help implement it. Friends of the Peak took on implementing the trail portion, which included a perimeter loop trail, which soon became known as Ring the Peak.
The plan for establishing a route for Ring the Peak was to use existing trails as much as possible. A group of avid trail users, volunteers from local trail organizations, met to select a route and determine what gaps existed. The route used trails as much as possible and backcountry dirt roads in places with no appropriate trail in order to make connections.
Volunteers from Friends of the Peak then worked with Forest Service staff in the Pikes Peak ranger district on connector trails in 3 gaps, the Mount Esther trail near Crystal reservoir, a gap near Raspberry Mountain to the Crags road, and a gap through Putney Gulch from the Crags road over to Horsethief Park. The district ranger at the time, William Nelson, approved officially designating trails as part of Ring the Peak and approved the routes for those 3 connections in February 2002.
Friends of the Peak worked on improving the existing Mount Esther and Crowe Gulch trails in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, work started on the connector trail near Crystal reservoir. That work was interrupted when the forest closed because of the Hayman fire, which started June 8, 2002, coincidentally the same day as the first project building the Crystal connector, and several projects had to be canceled. The Hayman fire went on to become at the time the largest wildfire recorded in Colorado. Work resumed the next year, and the Crystal connector was completed in 2003. With several weekend projects each year, volunteers built the Raspberry Mountain connector starting in 2003, completing it in July 2004. Projects then moved to the Putney Gulch connector in August 2004. That third approved connection was completed in 2006.
The completion of the connectors approved in 2002 left 3 gaps in the Ring, a gap in the Intemann trail through Manitou Springs, a gap along Ute Pass on the northeast side of Pikes Peak, and the southwest gap.
Manitou Springs had been working on closing the gap in the Intemann trail, and in 2014 finally succeeded. They acquired needed property, approved a trail design, and started construction. Volunteers, organized by Manitou Cats, an all-volunteer group, built part of the Iron Mountain connector, and the rest was build mechanically by a contractor.
El Paso County Parks is working on the Ute Pass Trail, planning to connect from Manitou Springs to the Teller county line. Historically, the Ute Indians had a route through Ute Pass. El Paso county had constructed parts of the Ute Pass trail, starting in 2003. In 2011, they started the public process for a master plan to complete the Ute Pass Trail. The El Paso County Board of Commissioners approved the Ute Pass Regional Trail master plan in 2015. In 2013 and 2014, with an agreement with Colorado Springs Utilities, the county rerouted a segment and improved the trail from Ruxton Avenue in Manitou Springs to Longs Ranch Road in Cascade, and held an opening ceremony and Ute blessing in September 2014. El Paso County continues to work on the Ute Pass Trail, farther west of the Ring and segments that will eventually help close the gap in the Ring in Ute Pass.
The southwest gap has been the most difficult, and was the subject of the plan to complete the Ring.