The Pacific Crest Trail

2,650 miles of wilderness. 1 ginger. 15kg on her back.

Pacific Crest Trail in California
The Pacific Crest Trail in the California desert. Photo: Bob Wick, BLM

At Campo, California, and Manning Park in British Columbia, there are two matching monuments.

In the 2,650 miles between them (or 4264.76 kilometres in new money)  you’ll find desert,  high sierra, temperate rainforest, mountain lions, bears, rattlers, a whole rainbow of synthetic materials of dubious styling, blood, sweat, tears, fears, trail magic, trail angels, trail heads, dopeheads, headteachers, dropouts and copouts.

Through California, Oregon and Washington the Pacific Crest Trail leads you through some 17 Everests’ worth of climbing.

It likes to take your plans, screw them up into a little ball and chuck them down the side of Mount Whitney. Into a forest fire. And then snow on them. Twice.

But the people who walk its way are rewarded with some of the most pristine wilderness walking in the USA – The John Muir Trail. Anselm Adams Wilderness. Columbia River Gorge…

Every year a misfit bunch of hikers attempts to walk from Mexico to Canada along this 2-ft wide line of misadventure.

In 2018, I’ll be one of them.


Just don’t mention the W word.


PCT gear

Tent view at Angle Tarn, Cumbria

It’s like peeking inside my handbag.

PCT blog


Latest stories from the trail.

PCT resources

There’s much written online about the PCT – some of it good, some of it bad, a lot of it baffling. I’m a busy woman with a bag to pack, so instead of creating yet another ‘how to do the PCT’ site, here’s what I’ve found most useful so far:

  • Homemade Wanderlust – the warm and witty Jessica Mills, AKA Dixie, posts brilliantly accessible weekly YouTube videos on hiking America’s trails – and keeps this up when out there herself. This year she’ll be on the Continental Divide Trail to complete the Triple Crown.
  • Halfway Anywhere – ton of information on the trail, including an annual survey of actual legit PCT hikers. Good reassurance for the logistics-averse, especially when your resupply strategy consists of ‘make sure don’t run out of tea’.
  • FollowingTheArrows – Kat’s website is a labour of love, as she tramps her way around the world on routes sacred and secular. Her PCT prep and blog posts were among my first bits of research, and I keep coming back.
  • PCTA – home of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, the not-for-profit tasked with keeping this 50-year-old national trail open for generations to come.
  • Halfmile’s PCT Maps – an excellent soul walked the PCT and logged his position every half a mile. His waypoints form the basis of these open-source route maps, which you can download, print, or follow on a free app.
  • Postholer snow reports – in-depth resource on snow levels across the PCT, handy for obsessively refreshing throughout the winter after the ‘year of fire and ice’.