You don’t have to disappear for months to enjoy the Pacific Crest Trail. Most people are out for less than a week. The PCT provides for a rich lifetime of day, weekend and week-long trips.
Find a trip
If you’re unfamiliar with the PCT, we recommend starting with one of the trail’s guidebooks. They represent thousands of hours – decades – of trail research. It’s often easier to find a trip in a book than it is to find it on the internet.
Plan on running your own shuttle. The PCT is, by it’s very nature, a point to point hike. The trail is remote. Very few places have public transportation.
- Look at your trail maps. You’re trying to find something right? It makes sense to start with a map. Pick a general region that you’d like to explore and then find out where the PCT passes through it.
- Look for road crossings. You need somewhere to park your car and the PCT crosses many roads. You’ll be able to park at most of them. Details about trailheads can be found in the guidebooks, or perhaps by viewing satellite images on our interactive map.
- If you’re looking for loops, you need maps that show other trails in the region. All of the PCT-specific maps show only the narrow band of the trail. Some sections have vast networks of connector trails you can utilize to form a fantastic loop. You’re more likely to find connector trails for loops in Wilderness areas and National Parks. Non-wilderness National Forests are more likely to have road systems that you can walk. Private land won’t have loop options (and you’re likely to be trespassing). BLM lands may provide opportunities for cross country loop trips.
Traversing 700 miles of deserts and mountain ranges, the Pacific Crest Trail is striking and easily accessible in Southern California.
The Pacific Crest Trail through the famed Sierra Nevada is one of the premier trail experiences in the world.
From the southernmost Cascades to the "Big Bend", the PCT in Northern California is marked by solitude.
Research current conditions
- The trail is snow-covered for much of the year. At high elevations, dangerous or laborious snow may hinder travel well into June or July.
- Some sections lack natural water sources and finding water may be an issue. This is mostly the case in Southern California and pockets of far Northern California and Central Oregon.
- Read about current trail conditions and closures.
- Read trip reports. The PCT thru-hikers have probably already passed through the area. If they haven’t it’s probably too early in the year for you too. Visit our database of trail journals.