Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Author: , May 14th, 2014

Pacific Crest Trail

Image via the Pacific Crest Trail Association

In some ways, the book (and soon-to-be-released movie) Wild serves as a what-not-to-do guide to the Pacific Crest Trail, or PCT — don’t over pack, don’t hike in untested boots, and don’t underestimate the weather. Author Cheryl Strayed certainly made some mistakes, but, by learning the hard way, she also got quite a few things right. Here’s a brief overview on how to hike the Pacific Crest Trail:

Plan before you go. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) recommends spending six to eight months researching and preparing for your trip. Start by poring over the PCTA’s database of maps, trail conditions, water reports, and guidebook recommendations. Finance is another important factor – between $4,000 and $8,000 is usually needed for supplies if you plan to hike the entire trail.

Obtain the permits to hike. If you intend to hike 500 miles or more of the trail in a single trip, you will need a Long Distance Permit from the PCTA (free). For shorter hikes, determine your starting and ending points, and then check which permits you’ll need along the way. You may be required to obtain additional permits to hike in specific areas such as the Whitney Zone in Inyo National Forest, or to stay at certain campgrounds. When applying for permits, allow at least three weeks for the paperwork to be filed, or be prepared to purchase a permit from the local ranger station.

By Teresa Bitler – Shermans Travel