We’re hopeful for the 2021 PCT season, but uncertainty remains

On January 5, we announced that the U.S. Forest Service directed the PCTA to issue PCT long-distance permits for the 2021 season.

This week, the United States set a new single-day record for Covid-19, with 4,200 deaths on January 12.

Issuing permits does not mean a guaranteed safe trip on the PCT. We’re hopeful that long-distance PCT journeys can happen this spring, but it’s possible your journey might end before it begins.

A condition of the long-distance permit is that you must follow all terms of the permit, and all Federal, state and local laws, rules, and regulations that may be in effect—including those in place due to Covid-19.

  • If state stay-at-home orders are in effect on your permit start date, your permit won’t be valid.
    • For example, if you have a permit start date at the Southern Terminus for March 15 and California has a stay-at-home order in place at that time, your permit will not be valid.
  • If state stay-at-home orders are issued after you have begun your trip, you’ll have to leave the trail, as your permit will no longer be valid.

By following Covid safety practices, you may have a successful journey

We know more about transmission of the coronavirus now than we did in March of 2020. And we know that wearing masks and social distancing helps prevent transmission. On a long-distance PCT trip, there are many opportunities to be close to people you don’t know.

We’ve pulled together guidance for visiting the PCT during the Covid-19 pandemic. It includes advice on how to change your behavior: like visiting resupply locations only when you can walk to them so that you don’t get into cars with others. Please read it—for your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of others.

No matter what, this will be a challenging year on the PCT

We often hear that the most memorable aspect of traveling the PCT is the people you meet along the way. For such a remote and scenic experience, the social life of the trail is what so many people remember. Unfortunately, 2021 won’t be the same. If you’re concerned about limiting the spread of Covid-19, you must limit close contact with others.

There will also be many miles of wildfire closures, and there was very little trail maintenance done in 2020. (You may be climbing over downed trees far more than usual.)

To succeed in 2021, you must accept uncertainty and a tougher, less social, more self-sustained trip.

We recommend postponing long-distance travel on the PCT until 2022.

Author: PCTA Staff

The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to protect, preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians, and for all the values provided by wild and scenic lands.