Celebrating 50 years of the PCT
as a National Scenic Trail.

PCT transportation

Getting to and from the trail can be a logistical obstacle. Most trailheads are only accessible by private vehicle.

Public and private transport services provide access to many but not all “trail towns” near the PCT. From these towns, you’re generally faced with hiring someone locally, finding someone willing to give you a ride, walking or hitchhiking.

Finding transit options

Bus from San Diego to Campo, CA. Getting to the Pacific Crest Trail via public transit.

Google.com/transit is a great resource. This map shows the bus from San Diego to Campo, CA

  • Start with an internet search for the town you’re looking to reach (or leave) and the words “transport” or “bus”. Many counties operate regional transit services. Search the county name and “transport” or “bus”. For example, “Kern County bus” brings you to a page for the county bus service that will get you to Tehachapi and Onyx, CA.
  • Search Amtrak and Greyhound’s websites to see which regional hubs and towns they service.
  • Some regions have private bus companies. They generally service large towns in the area and you’ll find them by searching the town name and “bus”.
  • Use the public transit option on Google Maps (or google.com/transit)
  • Try searching the town name or region name and “shuttle”. Various regions on the trail are serviced by private trailhead shuttles. They can often accommodate custom trips.
  • If you’re stuck, ask for advice online.

Note that commercial operations on public lands may require permits. Shuttle companies should have the proper permission and insurance in place to bring you to the PCT.

Finding backcountry trailheads

If you’ve ever driven around lost, looking for a trailhead, you know that they’re not always easy to find.

Be sure to bring accurate and quality information along. Dirt roads on public lands necessitate specific National Forest or BLM maps. Road names, conditions and closures change frequently. When in doubt, contact the local land agency or search online for the status of the road before you drive it. Remarkably, sometimes you can search Google Maps for Forest Service roads and their intersections on the PCT. Try searching “Forest Service Road 2N02 and Pacific Crest Trail”. It works. You can even use the “Directions” feature to find driving directions. It’s imperative that you compare the results with paper maps and other sources. Don’t trust online mapping information.

Getting to and from the southern terminus

Bus #894 runs from the El Cajon Transit Center to Campo, CA three times a day. It is a two hour ride and costs about $5. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System directs you to this Google Transit map for the bus schedule. Use the search function on the map for directions to reaching the El Cajon Transit Center, or hire a taxi. On public transit from the airport, you’ll take a bus to downtown and get on a trolley to the El Cajon Transit Center.

San Diego trail angels

Barney "Scout" Mann coordinating arrivals and departures.

Barney “Scout” Mann coordinating arrivals and departures.

Long-distance hikers are invited to request rides from the San Diego network of volunteer trail angels. These incredibly generous volunteers may be available to pick you up at the airport, bus or train station, host you in their home and drive you to the southern terminus. They generally operate during the spring thru-hiker season. You are their guests. This is not a project of the PCTA volunteer program.

These devoted volunteers coordinate amongst themselves and other trail angels to best meet the large need. Email them well in advance. Follow whatever rules and requests they have. Space may fill up. Contact Barney “Scout” Mann and Sandy “Frodo” Man via their website sandiegopct.com.

Getting to and from the northern terminus

The official northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail is on the US/Canada border next to Manning Park. Unfortunately, it is illegal to enter the United States from Manning Park via the PCT. To reach the terminus for a southbound hike, you have to start on the US side of the border. If you’re ending your hike and you must obtain proper permission to enter Canada. The best option for traveling away from Manning Park is via private vehicle. Greyhound stopped servicing Manning Provincial Park in 2018. The nearest bus stations are in Hope and Chilliwack.

On the U.S. side, here are the routes for walking to the northern terminus

  • Harts Pass (accessed via a good quality dirt road) then hike north for ~30 miles.
  • Rainy Pass (hwy 20) then hike north for ~60 miles.
  • Hike the Pacific Northwest Trail/Devil’s Dome Trail to the PCT at Holman Pass. It is 30 miles from the East Bank Trailhead to the PCT. You’ll need a permit from North Cascades National Park to do this hike.
  • From the Canyon Creek Trailhead, walk the Jackita Trail #738 to Devils Pass and then take the Pacific Northwest Trail to the PCT at Holman Pass. This is 22 miles. The Jackita Trail is steep, narrow in places and it is not recommended for stock.
  • The Lightning Creek Trail to Boundary Trail/Castle Pass Trail has not been maintained for many years. Reports indicate thick brush and serious blowdown issues. We strongly recommend against taking this route.

You can download some 1:50,000 scale maps that show the PNT and Jackita Trail here. You can also download very good maps from our friends at the Pacific Northwest Trail Association here (navigate to Section 6).

Ross Lake Resort runs boat shuttles on the lake that you might find a use for.

Interactive map showing hiking routes to the northern terminus

Easiest solutions for getting to the trailheads

The greatest use of public transit to get to the northern trailheads on the U.S. side

Most people will fly into Seattle’s Seat-Tac airport and then take public transit as far as they can. You have many options, so here are some tips.

Going via Wenatchee, Pateros, Twisp, and Winthrop has many legs of public transit but gets you closest to Hart’s Pass.

If you leave early in the morning, you can make it all the way to Mazama in one day. Plan your schedule carefully to achieve this.

Once again, you can skip most of these public transit steps by flying on the Catlin Flying Service‘s planes. If you can’t afford to charter a flight straight to Mazama, you might utilize their cheaper ride-share flights to Twisp.

Getting to Wenatchee

From Wenatchee to Winthrop

Click here for Google Transit directions. Basically, you:

Going via Concrete, Washington involves a long hitchhike

From Seattle or Vancouver, take Amtrak or Greyhound to the Skagit Station in Mt. Vernon, WA. From Mt. Vernon, take Skagit Transit bus route 8 or 717 to Concrete (no Sunday service). From Concrete, WA either:

    1. Hitchhike (read the laws) to Ross Lake and hike the Pacific Northwest Trail to the PCT or take the boat shuttle to Devil’s Junction and hike the Pacific Northwest Trail to the PCT. (1 hour drive from Concrete to Ross Lake)
    2. Hitchhike to Rainy Pass and walk north. (1.5 hour drive)
    3. Hitchhike to Mazama, WA and then hitchhike to Harts Pass. (2 hour drive from Concrete to Mazama)

Useful links

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