Spanning 2,650 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico to the border with Canada, this trail ranges from burning desert to often-snowy alpine terrain. Already popular, the Pacific Crest Trail gained even more hikers with the 2012 release of the memoir Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Distance: 2,650 miles
States: California, Oregon and Washington
Year Established: 1968
Best Times of Year to Visit: Year-round
Notable Spots Along Trail:
- The Mojave Desert, home to Death Valley, the hottest, driest place in North America, is marked by Joshua trees, sandy scrubland and basin-and-range topography.
- Just off the trail in the Sierra Nevada stands Mount Whitney, the highest summit in the contiguous United States at 14,505 feet of elevation.
- The Columbia River is the fourth largest river in the U.S. by volume. The PCT crosses the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon-Washington border.
Fun Facts, According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association:
- The PCT climbs nearly 60 major mountain passes.
- As the crow flies, the distance between Mexico and Canada is just over 1,000 miles. The PCT is two and a half times that.
- The PCT passes the three deepest lakes in the nation: Lake Tahoe (1,645 feet), Crater Lake (1,932 feet) and Lake Chelan (1,486 feet).
Trail Uses: Hiking, running, horseback riding, birding, photography, fishing, picnicking, skiing and snowshoeing.
Administering Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Nonprofit Partner: Pacific Crest Trail Association
Permitting Information: Many areas along the PCT require a permit, including Yosemite, Crater Lake and North Cascades national parks. More information.
REI Stewardship: The co-op has invested more than $259,000 in the PCT since 2004.
- How to Pack for a Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike
- How Much Does it Cost to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail?
- What Does it Take to set a Fastest Known Time?
- A Gift of Time: What the Trail Can Teach
- The Appalachian Trail vs. Pacific Crest Trail: Which Hike is Right for You?
- The Joys of Section Hiking
Learn more about all of our national scenic trails.