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.
To connect with other PCT hikers, ask questions or share your experiences, visit the Pacific Crest Trail Hikers’ group in our digital community, Conversations.