The Pacific Crest Trail, abbreviated PCT, is a long-distance hiking trail with a length of over 4,200 kilometers. It runs along the American West Coast through the states of Washington, Oregon and California.
Each year, about 700 to 800 hikers make the journey to complete this trail in its entirety. Slightly more than half actually make it, while the rest abandon the hike before they even get there. According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, there are only about 60 people who have walked the entire trail from start to finish several times. Since it is part of the best backpacking trails in the US, it’s completely worth it.
But what awaits you on the trail? Why do so many people want to hike this long-distance trail, even though it’s so strenuous? This and more you will learn in the following article.
What is the PCT like?
The PCT runs within the United States from the northern border with Canada to the Mexican border in the south. Along the way, you’ll pass the ridges of the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Range, among others. The highest point on your journey is the Forester Pass in California, which is just over 4,000 meters above sea level.
You’ll also pass several national parks during your hike, including Lassen Volcanic, Kings Canyon and Yosemite. Definitely a varied experience that you should not miss.
The ideal time to visit the PCT
We can’t say exactly what time of year you should hike this member of the best backpacking trails in the US. This is simply because the trail runs parallel to the entire west coast. In the mountains, it’s best if you stop by in the summer or early fall. In California, where the PCT is a little lower, we recommend that you hike primarily in the spring and fall.
You can hike the PCT at any time of year. However, keep in mind that most of the trail is snow covered from November through the end of June. Even the California portion, many hikers don’t consider.
Camping on the PCT
Camping is also a great way to explore the PCT. To do this in the most environmentally friendly way possible, you should follow the “Leave No Trace” policy. This of course requires some planning. Only with the right preparation can you enjoy the best comfort and still camp in an environmentally conscious way.
However, you should remember not to pitch a permanent tent site. The soil on the PCT recovers slowly. Only a few nights are enough to already cause irreparable damage. If you’re not certain, you’re better off going to an officially designated campsite. These are often located just a few meters from the main trail.
The PCT is quite remote and can become a real challenge. If you are not careful, the trail can even become dangerous. Keep in mind that you are responsible for your safety.
The best way to keep yourself safe: look for hikers to accompany you. Ideally, your companion should already have experience with the PCT. You’ll find plenty of people on various Facebook groups who are surely happy to accompany you on your adventure.
If you do decide to walk the PCT alone, always stay on the trail. Off the trail, the risk of getting lost or even in mortal danger increases.
Do you now feel like embarking on the PCT adventure? Then you will certainly not regret your trip. However, remember to take a companion with hiking experience and always stay on the main trail. If you keep this in mind, you will enjoy one of the best backpacking trails in the US.
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