Zebulon Montgomery Pike Jr. (January 5, 1778 – April 27, 1813) was an American soldier and explorer for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado is named. His Pike expedition, often compared to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, mapped much of the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase.
Pike was born in Lamberton, New Jersey, now a part of Trenton. His father, also named Zebulon Pike, was an officer in the Continental Army under General George Washington and served in the United States Army after the end of the Revolutionary War. The younger Pike grew to adulthood in a series of Midwestern outposts — the frontier of the United States at the time — in Ohio and Illinois. He joined his father's regiment as a cadet in 1794, earned a commission as ensign in 1799 and a first lieutenancy later that year.
Pike married Clarissa Harlow Brown in 1801 and continued an unremarkable military career in logistics and payroll at a series of frontier posts. His career was taken up by General James Wilkinson, who had been appointed Governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory. In 1805, Wilkinson ordered Pike to find the source of the Mississippi River.