An announcement about the 2016 long-distance permit

We’re excited about another great season on the Pacific Crest Trail and we hope you are too. Some of you will be taking very long hikes or horseback rides on the trail this year. This information is for you. While this is a simple round-up of what the 2016 permit process will look like, it’s important that you read, understand and follow all of the information outlined on our permit page. After reading it all, if you have questions, just ask. You’ll also find a lot of answers and important trip planning information in the Discover the Trail section of our website.

Pacific Crest Trail logo

Photo by Ethan Gehl.

First off, the long-distance permit is only for people who are traveling 500 continuous miles or more, in a single trip. If you are doing a series of section hikes, or not hiking 500 continuous miles in a single trip, you’ll need to apply for permits just as you would for any normal backpacking trip. We’re happy to explain how to do this if you need help.

The information below is for long-distance permits only.

Opening dates for the PCT long-distance permit

                Southbound and section hikers (not starting at the southern terminus)

We’ll start accepting permit applications on Feb. 1. These permits are not limited.

                Northbound (starting at the southern terminus either thru-hike or section)

These permits are limited to 50 people per day.  There will be a two-phased opening that will give people who missed the first chance at a permit a second chance for one.

  1. On Feb. 1, 35 permits per day will become available.
  2. On Feb. 16, the remaining 15 permits per day will become available.

How to apply for a long-distance permit

  1. Read everything on our permit page. It outlines additional permits and important information that you’ll need.
  2. Research your start day and location. You need to commit to these before you apply for a permit.
  3. Do not fill out the application more than once. Doing so may result in the cancellation of your request.
    1. You’ll get an email confirming receipt of your application right away.
    2. We’ll review your application. If it has errors, it may be cancelled or delayed. Double check your information before you apply.
    3. We’ll start approving and issuing permits on Feb. 17. We’ll prioritize applications for people starting early in the year. We work as quickly as possible. Please don’t ask for a status check unless weeks have gone by and you suspect something is amiss.

Changes in the Mount Whitney area

In 2016, you can dayhike from the PCT to the summit of Mount Whitney and back to the PCT. There is no fee, nor any additional permits needed.  Long-distance permit holders should camp west of the Crabtree Ranger Station.  Do not camp between Crabtree Ranger Station and the summit of Mt. Whitney. Stock is not permitted beyond the base of the switchbacks on Mount Whitney.

Also, you can now get a special add-on to your long-distance permit that will allow you to go east down the mountain to Whitney Portal. This access along the Whitney Trail, to Whitney Portal and Lone Pine, crosses the Inyo National Forest. This additional permit (attached to your long-distance permit) is for people wanting to end their trip at Whitney Portal or visit the area for resupply. It costs $21 and is non-refundable.

…And please follow Leave No Trace ethics

Please take a moment to check out our PCT specific Leave No Trace information. It’s up to all of us to take care of the trail and the surrounding landscape.

Have a wonderful year on the trail!

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.