Sexual harassment and similar crimes on the PCT

We travel the Pacific Crest Trail with the hope of escaping the problems and pressures of our cities. That doesn’t always work. Over the years, and especially this year, we’ve talked to women who say they have been sexually harassed on the trail and in trail towns. This is troubling to say the least.

If you’re a community member, or a hiker, and you won’t act appropriately, please find a new place to spend your time. Act appropriately and don’t harass people on the PCT.

Personal violations and harassment are all too common in our society. Most people, and likely all women, have learned how to live life with their guard up. You’ve learned how to walk down the street with caution.

Unfortunately, predators don’t stop at trailhead kiosks. It’s human nature to believe in the goodness of people. Without that hope, why bother? But despite the goodness of trail angels and fellow hikers and horseback riders, you must be as careful as you would be in the city. Take food and drinks from strangers with caution. Sleep over at their houses with caution. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you could become a victim.

Most importantly, keep your guard up:

  • Uncomfortable, potentially dangerous, encounters with people can happen anywhere. It can happen on trail, in camp, at trailheads, in cars and in town.
  • Trail angels exist up and down the PCT. They are self-appointed volunteers and are not affiliated with our organization or any federal or state agency. Anyone can call themselves a trail angel and offer a ride or a bed. PCT hikers and horseback riders should use caution and good judgment when coming in contact with new people.
  • Avoid and get away from people who are acting suspicious, hostile, aggressive, or intoxicated.
  • Act the same way that you would in a new city. Use extra caution if you’re traveling alone (a single partner doesn’t guarantee safety either). Tell people where you’re going. Trust your gut.

Report all crimes, harassment and suspicious people or activities to the local authorities. Call 911 in case of emergency. Reporting harassment leaves important documentation. Also, report all incidents using the U.S. Forest Service PCT incident report form and email or call the PCTA at 916-285-1846.

Read our general safety information here.

Author: Jack "Found" Haskel

As the Trail Information Manager, Jack works to connect people to the PCT. He's involved with a wide variety of projects that help the trail, the trail's users and the community that surrounds the experience. He has thru-hiked (Pacific Crest Trail in 2006; Colorado Trail in 2008; Continental Divide Trail in 2010) and is an obsessed weekend warrior.