Pacific Crest Trail

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The Pacific Crest Trail, or the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as it is sometimes called, runs between Mexico and Canada through some of the most scenic country in America, if not the whole world. Spanning a massive 2,650 miles, with a range of just above sea level at the Washington-Oregon border, climbing to an astounding 13,153 feet in Sierra Nevada, it really is the most amazing trail on earth.

Pacific Crest Trail Route

The Pacific Crest Trail winds its way through Washington, Oregon and California, passing through 25 of the most beautiful national forests and 7 different national parks. It misses civilization wherever possible, sticking largely to national forest and protected wilderness along the way with a scattering of rugged moutainous terrain.  You won’t see many roads while you’re taking to the Pacific Crest Trail, it truly is a fantastic way to get away from it all.

History of the Pacific Crest Trail

The idea of the Pacific Crest Trail was started by Clinton C. Clarke in the 1930’s, and the original intention was to link the John Muir Trail, the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail (in California) with the Skyline Trail (in Oregon) and finally the Cascade West Trail (Washington). Between 1935 and 1938, groups from the YMCA explored 2000 miles of terrain and began to plan the route, this is largely followed by the PCT of today. The actual construction of the PCT was actually started in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, (not him personally, but he sanctioned it!) and was a massive feat of organization between the federal government and the volunteers of the Pacific Crest Trail Association. The PCT was officially finished in 1993, it takes a long time you know, to bring together 2,650 miles of co-operation.

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Whereas many people spend a few hours or days hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail, there is a growing number of people who have completed the trail by thru-hiking, walking the whole trail from end to end in one long trip. This takes around 6 months if you hike 20 miles a day, and as you can imagine, it takes rather a lot of planning and logistics (as well as a lot of walking) to be a successful thru-hiker. Loose estimates suggest that of the 300 or so thru-hikers who attempt the Pacific Crest Trail every year, around 60% of them are successful.

The first thing that thru-hikers have to decide is whether to walk north to south, or south to north. This kind of depends on the seasons (you’ve got to try and avoid the snow at both ends if possible) but most people seem to go from the southbound terminal up towards Canada. Of course, nobody can carry enough food and equipment with them for the whole journey, but there are resupply points and post offices in towns along the way, and thru hikers can simply arrange to have fresh supplies sent to them along the way.

Other Ways to See the Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail is not open to motorized vehicles or bicycles, but there are a growing number of people who are attempting (and some of them succeeding) on completing the trail on horseback, or thru-riding as it is known. This also calls for lots of planning and organization, after all, although you might have an extra few legs to help you carry supplies, you’ve got to arrange for the feed and necessary care of the horses too.

Attempting to complete the Pacific Crest Trail in one fell swoop is not for the faint hearted, but thousands of people enjoy a small part of the trail every year, and that’s really what it’s all about.

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