Traversing Trails: Introduction to the Pacific Crest Trail

Traversing Trails: Introduction to the Pacific Crest Trail

By Rachael Medina
Staff Writer August 13, 2019

Beige dirt trails extend in either direction as far as the eye can see, traversing every type of landscape, from arid deserts to snowy mountain passes. A heavy pack stores everything you will need out on the trail; a tent and a sleeping bag are strapped haphazardly to the bottom, a jug of water is bungee corded to the side, and it takes an all-out wrestling match to wrangle the pack from its seated position on the ground to the hunched, not-quite-vertical position it assumes on your back. Hunger now comes with a vengeance, as 10- and 20-mile days have become a regular pastime—and sanitation is taking on a whole new, lax meaning. Regardless of the challenging circumstances, this journey on the Pacific Crest Trail is entirely mind over matter. 

The Pacific Crest Trail stretches for roughly 2,600 miles, taking hikers on a challenging yet scenic trek through California, Oregon, and Washington. 

Recomended businesses

Show me California.com
Recommended Businesses near

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

Real Estate

Fitness & Wellness

Outdoor Recreation

Travel & Accommodation

more

About the Pacific Crest Trail

Preparing to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) can quickly feel overwhelming between all the budgeting, packing, and (over)planning. While there is no single right way to get ready to hit the trails, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The PCT extends approximately 2,600 miles from the Mexican border to Canada, though the exact mileage changes annually to accommodate for better scenery, to allow for improved treadway, and to move the trail away from dangerous conditions such as wildfires. Traversing the entire distance takes most hikers between four and six months, but some highly experienced thru-hikers have been known to finish the trail in as little as two months. 

The trail will take you through about 60 major mountain passes and past the three deepest lakes in the country. If you shorten the trip to only the California portion, you will see just one of these lakes but will still hike approximately 1,691.7 miles—more than half of the PCT’s entire span. Starting at the California-Mexico border allows you to travel through the entire state and also provides the comforts of a less-harrowing journey; approximately 90 percent of the trail’s thru-hikers choose to go northward because the weather and additional logistics are less challenging than traveling south. 

Hiking the PCT is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it requires significant preparations, making it anything but a spontaneous adventure. Stay tuned for the next installment to see if you have what it takes to embark on this journey.

Staff Writer
Rachael Medina

Staff Writer Rachael Medina

Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…

See full bio

0 comments


author photo
Please enter text

You may also like

Auto

The Best Road Trips for Couples

If you’re planning to propose or are simply looking for some alone time with your partner, these are the best …...Read more

Entertain

Add These Unique Things to do in Santa Barbara to Your Itinerary

Enjoy the coastal vibes of the American Riviera. There are so many unique to do in Santa Barbara, but these …...Read more

Health & Fitness

California's Best Sleep Apps and Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Enhance your sleeping cycle with California's best sleep apps and products. Establish a good sleep cycle to enhance your daytime …...Read more

Travel

Staycations In Southern California That You Can’t Miss

Your ultimate guide to can't-miss staycations in Southern California. Explore the Golden State and the endless opportunities it offers....Read more