Skip to main content

Traversing Trails: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Traversing Trails: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Here are all the permits you'll need to secure before starting your trek on the PCT.


2 min read

May 29, 2024

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) requires several months of preparation and dozens of hours of planning. Once you determine the amount of money and the type of gear you will need for the trip, permits become the next limiting factor. 

In order to hike 500 miles or more of the PCT, a long-distance permit is required. While these permits are free to apply for and obtain, they are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. This means that some prep time is needed to ensure you can hike at your preferred time of the year. 

The trail can prove to be dangerous, so hiking in groups is recommended. That being said, each participant should complete and submit the application simultaneously because permits are time-sensitive and issued in the order in which they are received. 

Experience breathtaking vistas and serene landscapes as you hike along the legendary Pacific Crest Trail.

Permit Release Days

If you want to obtain a permit on the release day, you will need to register in advance. The first release day of 2024 will be on November 14, so if you want to apply for a permit, register between October 24 and November 3 from 10:30 AM to 5 PM (PST). Please note that if you do not register in advance, you won’t be able to apply for the permit on November 14. 

Submission Process

On launch day, a waiting room system will appear on the website when you go to fill out the permit application. As soon as you click on the application, you will be assigned a place in line and an approximate wait time—which may be up to three hours. Once you have access to the application, you will have 10 minutes to start it and an additional 20 minutes to fill it out. Before you begin, make sure to solidify a start location and date as well as an end location and date; the system will not give you very much time to figure out these details. 

Select your preferred date if it is available, but make sure to have some backup dates (just in case) and to stay in close communication with your group during the application process so that nobody gets left behind. Once you've successfully applied for the long-distance permit, obtaining a California Campfire Permit is the next step. 

California Campfire Permit

This permit, also free, is necessary if you plan to use a stove or lantern along the trail. Despite its name, this permit does not allow campfires. In fact, about 10% of the trail passes through private land where campfires are typically prohibited. Moreover, a significant portion of the trail in Southern California crosses dry deserts, where wildfires are common, and campfires can be dangerous. 

Secure your California Campfire Permit, so you can use a stove or lantern along the trail.

Local Permit Areas on the PCT

If you plan on leaving the PCT at any time or camping farther than 15 miles away from the trail, additional permits may be necessary. In the Yosemite Wilderness, for example, a separate permit is required for those wanting to hike off the PCT and camp overnight, ascend the Half Dome cables, or visit Yosemite Valley. So, make sure to do your research.

Once all of your permits are in order, you’ll be ready to set off for the trail! 

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.

Need help with a home improvement project? Get a free quote today!

Enter Your Zip Code

Enter Your Zip Code

RELATED Articles

Discover More

fueled by the power of California love
We're committed to helping you discover the places, people and businesses that make our state Golden. Our online publication, updated daily, brings you all the content you need to live your California dreams. And that's just the beginning…
Purpose section
Purpose section