Application dates for the 2023 interagency PCT Long-distance Permit

Hello, PCT Class of 2023!

We can’t wait to meet you and we’re thrilled that you’re coming to the trail. It’s an incredibly special place. As you plan your trip, from building physical strength and preparing your body for your adventure, to refining your wilderness skills, we know that getting a permit is a key part of the journey.

pct permit photo for 2023

Photo by Oskar “Finn” Schöldström

If you plan on hiking or horseback riding 500 or more miles along the PCT in a single, continuous trip, you can apply for a PCT Long-distance Permit. The U.S. Forest Service authorizes the PCTA to issue the interagency PCT Long-distance Permit on behalf of federal and state agencies to simplify your planning, provide for long-distance travel and improve information about the trail.

You’ll need to follow the instructions on our permit page in order to successfully apply. There are limits on the number of permits available and they come with some specific terms to follow.

New this year: register before you apply, starting October 12

If you’re hoping to apply for a permit on the day of the first release you need to register anytime between October 12 at 10:30 AM Pacific Time and November 1 at 5 PM Pacific Time, at 2023.permit.pcta.org. You won’t be able to apply on the release date unless you register ahead of time.

Likewise, if you’re hoping to apply on the day of the second release, you’ll need to register before January 5 at 5 PM Pacific Time. 

When registering, you’ll be prompted to confirm your phone number and email address, then enter your remaining contact information and date of birth.

Registering doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a permit, but it’s the first step on the journey.

New this year: it’s easier to apply for a permit on the same day as someone else

It’s easier than ever to get a permit for the same day as your hiking or horseback riding partner! After each person registers, you will be able to link yourselves together so that one person enters the queue and submits applications for both of you at the same time. This will ensure that your applications are both submitted for the same itinerary.

Application dates for 2023 PCT Long-distance Permits

Remember, you must register ahead of time to be able to apply for a permit on these release days.

Northbound trips starting south of Sonora Pass between March 1 and May 31, including northbound thru-hikes: 

A limited number of permits are available for this kind of trip.

  • These permits are released in two phases:
    • On November 15 at 10:30 AM Pacific Time, 35 permits per day will be available.
    • On January 10, 2023, at 10:30 AM Pacific Time, the remaining 15 permits per day will be available.

All other trips, including southbound thru-hikes: 

A limited number of permits are available for some of these trips, such as those starting at or near the Canadian border.

  • Permits will be available on January 10, 2023, at 10:30 AM Pacific Time.

Have you read the long-distance permit page? It’s full of important information.

Not sure when or where to start? First, read our page about PCT Long-distance Permits. Then, learn about when to hike the PCT. Choose a start date that meets your level of experience and ability; many people who start too early or too late run into challenges beyond their skill level. Just because a permit is available doesn’t mean that conditions are favorable for all skill levels. Remember, the PCT Long-distance Permit requires that you start on the date and at the location that is listed on your permit. This term is in place to protect the PCT experience and environment for everyone.

These permits are free, and while applying, you can decide whether you want to make a donation to the trail.

Registering gives you the opportunity to apply on permit release day. Submitting a permit application secures your requested reservation date. Wait until your application is reviewed and approved before making travel arrangements.

While you are waiting, this is a great time of year to learn about the trail

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. Your choices and behaviors can help protect the environment and ensure that the PCT provides a wild experience for all hikers and horseback riders for years to come.

After you’ve studied up about protecting this special place, keep learning about how to have a wonderful and safe time on the trail in our Backcountry Basics section.

Have a wonderful year on the trail!

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.