A Retrospective History of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) - Warren Lee (Cactus) Rogers
Picture of PCT on Mountain Pass

A brief history of the
Pacific Crest Trail

Prepared by Donald Lee Rogers
Revised March 21, 1997.

The Pacific Crest Trailway System (PCTS) was originally discussed in several parts of the country, during the very early 1900's. A man by the name of Clinton C. Clarke heard of the idea during the very early 1930's. Clarke liked the idea of a ten (10) mile wide pathway from Canada to Mexico for hikers and horsemen to enjoy.

During 1932 Clarke, age 58, worked with the U.S. Forest Service about establishing the PCTS. He looked around for a means of publicizing the trail. First he talked with the Boy Scout of America about a team relay of the trail. They were very skeptical and turned him down. He then contacted the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). They also were very skeptical, but with much insistence on Clarke's part agreed to participate.

Because of his association with the YMCA, Clarke was introduced to a young man, age 24, by the name of Warren Lee Rogers. Rogers had previously heard of the PCTS concept and was becoming an avid PCTS explorer/hiker himself. Rogers agreed with almost everything Clarke was purposing and became partners with the planning of the relays.

During 1932 Clarke and Rogers also established the Pacific Crest Trail Systems Conference (PCTSC). Clarke became President and Rogers the Executive Secretary to the conference. The PCTSC continued to promote public use of the PCTS until Clarke's death in 1957, at the age of 84.

During 1932, 1933, and 1934 the California Conservation Corps (CCC) worked on establishing connector trails where needed. This was done in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service efforts to create a continuous trail.

After the completion of the relays, which lasted the full summers of 1935, 1936, 1937, and 1938, Clarke and Rogers started out to make the PCTS permanent and an everyday word for hikers the world over. Clarke, now 64, depended on Rogers, age 30, for most field work. Rogers and Clarke would work on various aspects of the trail, at Clarke's Pasadena hotel, but Rogers was the one doing any actual trail exploration/hiking. Rogers lovingly referred to Clarke as the Arm Chair Hiker. Although Clarke, it has just been recently verified, was experienced in the outdoors, trips to Yosemite and the like, from the Relays on Clarke never stepped foot on the PCT.

Unfortunately, the PCTS immediately ran into problems. One of these was World War II. With the government focused on the war effort, some of the trails ran into disrepair. Over the years non-government land was bought and sold. Since the complete trail was never made permanent, by an act of Congress, it was hard to maintain.

After Clarke's death, Rogers took over the monstrous effort of making the PCTS permanent. In February 1965, President Johnson took up Clarke's idea of a "Trails for America", of which the PCTS was to be included. During the next three years Clarke's "Trails for America" concept changed into what was called the National Scenic Trails Act (NSTA). When the NSTA was finally passed in 1968 the PCTS, which was now referred to as the PCT, became permanent. However, very little money was allocated to rework the now PCT and for obtaining permanent rights-of-way. Over the next several years many people worked to re-complete the PCT as close to its original route as possible.

Rogers' efforts continued to consume his total life until his death on April 28, 1992. The Pacific Crest Trail Golden Spike Completion Ceremony was held on the first National Trails Day, June 5, 1993. Just over a year from Rogers' death.

One man's personal opinion:

In historical retrospect, the team of Rogers and Clarke worked out to be more than just life long friends. It turned out to be a tag team of two men, one older and the other younger, whose love for the PCT was able to span 60 years of continuous efforts. Clarke lead the effort for 25 years with Rogers working at his side. Then Rogers continued the task for the next 35 years.

               Warren Lee Rogers       Clinton Churchill Clarke
Picture of Warren Lee Rogers Picture of Clinton C. Clarke
Two men - good friends - one trail - Rogers and Clarke.

More will be added as quickly as possible.
Warren L. Rogers published a brief history of the original relays.
Copies available, E-mail for further infromation.


Copyright 1968 Warren L. Rogers
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 68-29616

We are currently researching all documentation about the Pacific Crest Trail to produce a historical book covering all aspects of the early development of the PCT.

"A Cactus Grows On The Pacific Crest Trail - The Definitive History Of The PCT"
Copyright 1996 Donald L. Rogers

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