The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650 mile (4,264 km) hiking and equestrian trail winding from the Californian/Mexican border, through California, Oregon & Washington, finishing in British Columbia, Canada.
According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association website:
The PCT was designated a National Scenic Trail in 1968, though not officially completed until 1993
It crosses over 57 major mountain passes
It passes more than 1,000 lakes and tarns
It passes through 5 national monuments, five state parks, six national parks, 25 national forests & 48 federal wilderness areas
How long does it take to complete?
It typically takes thru-hikers around 5 months to complete the trail. According to the PCTA website, the success rate of completing the trail as a thru-hike (in one season), is only 50%, yikes!
When do you start?
The window of opportunity to hike the PCT is usually between April to September, and this is dictated by the weather. If you start from the Californian/Mexican border before April you might be walking through the desert in snow, whereas if you start much later than April, you’ll be faced with the burning heat and high temperatures of the desert.
After 700 miles of desert you come to the Sierra mountains. If you reach these mountains too early then you will be hiking through snow. However, if you reach them “too late” then the snowmelt may make the subsequent river crossings tricky.
And then, there’s Washington! If you arrive too late (Sept/Oct), you may find yourself hiking through more snow… I think this is the only time it’s ok to arrive somewhere early 🙂
In summary, you need to time it “just right” so that you make it through the desert, across the Sierras and into Washington before it starts to snow… easy! 😉
Or in my case, I need to be out of America before my 6 month tourist visa expires!