History of Pacific Crest Trail
Harvard graduate, successful oilman, and avid Boy Scout, Clinton C. Clarke dedicated much of his life to preserving a slice of the American West for future generations. His vision, first articulated in the 1930s, was a border-to-border trail along mountain ranges in California, Oregon and Washington, "traversing the best scenic areas and maintaining an absolute wilderness character." It would take millions of dollars, 60 years, and thousands of hours of labor, but eventually Clarke's dream would be realized. To create the PCT, Clarke recommended linking several existing trails: Washington's Cascade Crest Trail, Oregon's Skyline Trail, and California's John Muir and Tahoe-Yosemite Trails.
In 1932, Clarke founded the Pacific Crest Trail System Conference to lobby for and plan the trail. The founding members of the PCT Conference included the Boy Scouts, the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) , and a young photographer named Ansel Adams. During the summers of 1935 though 1938 more than 40 YMCA groups, traveling in relays and carrying a logbook over 2,000 miles, hiked, explored, and evaluated a route for the trail from Mexico to Canada. One YMCA staffer in particular, Warren Rogers, was instrumental in exploring sections of trail after they had been mapped out - a feat all the more impressive because Rogers had been crippled by childhood polio. Today's PCT closely follows the route blazed during those relays in the 1930s.
On October 2, 1968 President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Trail Systems Act, which named the Appalachian Trail and the PCT as the first national scenic trails. The Act defined National Scenic Trails as ".extended trails so located as to provide for maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of the nationally significant scenic, historic, natural, or cultural qualities of the areas through which such trails may pass."
Over the next 25 years, land management agencies, the Pacific Crest Trail Association and other trail organizations, and countless volunteers constructed nearly 1,000 miles of trail. Finally, in 1993, at a golden spike ceremony in Soledad Canyon, California, the PCT was declared officially complete.