The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) extends 2,650 miles from British Columbia, Canada, to Mexico, passing through Washington state, Oregon and California and exposing the beautiful high deserts, glaciers and volcanic peaks of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges.
The trail route was first explored in the 1930s by men from the YMCA. Once it proved possible, they began lobbying the government for a border-to-border trail system. It was finally designated as a scenic trail in the National Trails System by Congress in 1968.
National and State Parks
The PCT travels through 47 state and national parks, monuments and recreation areas. Hikers on the PCT are obligated to follow local regulations of the park they are in regarding pets, fires, camping, etc. Check all local rules and regulations as part of trip planning.
Successful Trip Planning
Whether you are planning a through-hike, other long-distance hike or a day hike, prior planning is critical to your success. About 300 people attempt to through-hike each year, and approximately 60 percent are successful.
Uses of the Pacific Crest Trail
The PCT is designated as a nonmechanized trail system by the U.S. Forest Service and is open to foot traffic, horses and pack animals only.
Through-trip permits are required. Applications for through-trips can be obtained at pcta.org. Permitting for shorter trips is accomplished through the local agency where your hike originates. (If your trip is more than 500 miles, the Pacific Crest Trail Association can issue you a through-trip permit).
Pacific Crest Trail Association
The PCTA's mission statement is "to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as an internationally significant resource for the enjoyment of hikers and equestrians, and for the value that wild and scenic lands provide to all people." There are more than 6,000 members worldwide, and there are trail work volunteer opportunities each year along the entire trail that are posted on the website pcta.org.