Not For The Faint Hearted: The Pacific Crest Trail

Not For The Faint Hearted is a series of posts about various long distance treks across the globe. If walking a really long way is what rocks your world, read on for some inspiration…


Seeing as I am heading to the USA today to start a 3 month long trip that will involve visiting some of the best national parks in the world, I thought it apt to write about one of the most exciting, picturesque and endurance-testing long distance hikes that this country has to offer… The Pacific Crest Trail.

Remember that brilliant, yet devastating, movie Into The Wild based on the true story by Jon Krauker? And remember while you sat in your comfy lounge chair watching it you were thinking ‘Man, I’d love to hike through some of that stunning landscape’? Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly how it happened, but the good news is – you can!

Ridge Lake, Pacific Crest Trail. Photo by Sean Munson

The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from the Mexican border, north through the USA and up into Canada – a nice little stroll of about…oh, 4,240 km (2,650 miles). So the slightly-less good news is, you’ll need a spare 6 months up your sleeve and a whole lot of stamina to do the entire thing. 

Believe it or not people actually do walk the entire 4000-odd kilometers in one go. About 300 people attempt the thru-hike each year and surprisingly about 200 of those people make it to the very end. That’s some seriously dedicated walking!

Cascades/ Glacier Peak, Pacific Crest Trail. Photo by Randy and Sharon Green

The reality though is that more people have climbed Mount Everest than completed the thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. I personally find the idea of climbing the highest mountain in the world with an oxygen tank on standby way more daunting than trekking the length of the United States. Clearly most people don’t agree!

You can, of course, choose to do small sections of the trail or even day hikes. The PCT official website had loads of info about the different areas, trails, accommodation etc.

Unfortunately we won’t be walking the entire length of the trail (call me crazy, but it is totally on my bucket list!) but we will be venturing into several of the national parks that the trail crosses through – Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks in California and North Cascades National Park in Washington State – so we will hopefully be able to walk along a few sections of the trail. The other 4,000 or so kilometers will have to wait…


Some interesting info from the official trail website:

The Pacific Crest Trail:

  • passes through three states (California, Oregon and Washington)
  • Climbs nearly 60 major mountain passes
  • Descends into 19 major canyons and
  • Ambles past more than 1,000 lakes and tarns.

Some inspiration for intrepid trekkers:

Walking in Stillness: A wonderful blog with a great section and loads of photos on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Long Distance Walks: Trail writing and advice from seven countries and four continents.

Best Hike: If the Pacific Crest Trail doesn’t excite you, there are a multitude of other treks that might.

*PS If you haven’t seen the film Into The Wild yet you should rent it tonight! Or even better…read the book.

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Comments (3)
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    Sherry Aug 18 2011 - 8:49 pm Reply

    Yes, the Pacific Crest Trail sound like quite a crazy and difficult feat! That’s a long way to go up and down. I’m glad its on your bucket list, though. Its more than a destination, its actually an adventure which you must put effort and time to train for. Take it from someone whose at least hiked part of the North Cascades, its not easy. But in the end, it is well worth it. You really almost feel like you are alone out there, which is a good feeling. I’m very excited (and envious) on your trip through some of the best National Parks in the USA, if not the world. I’m looking forward to reading all about it.
    Sherry recently posted..“A Foodie’s Exuberant Shanghai Night”My Profile

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    Traci Lehman Nov 9 2011 - 3:03 am Reply

    I agree with you that hiking Mt. Everest seems much more daunting even though they are both difficult. I, too, dream of long-distance hiking in the future!
    Traci Lehman recently posted..Walk at Upper Newport BayMy Profile

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