How do you tackle hiking roughly 2,600 miles of some of the most beautiful scenery in the US/Planet Earth? Might I suggest the “one chunk at a time” method? Hear me out…
I would LOVE to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in its entirety. In fact, I plan to (2016 anyone?) but like most of y’all I’m assuming, I have obligations that would prevent me from abruptly peacing out on the real world for 5ish months. Who would watch the bear dog!?
The great news is that the Pacific Crest Trail doesn’t have to be an all or nothing experience, especially if you are fortunate enough to live nearby in California, Oregon or Washington. Look, hiking thousands of miles on an iconic trail from Canada to Mexico is a romantic notion but so is experiencing smaller chunks of the same outrageously beautiful trail with the added luxury of a hot shower, cold beer and warm bed afterwards. In short, section hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is the perfect compromise.
Whether you are feeling a leisurely day hike, a weekend outing or maybe even a month long trek, a PCT access point is never hard to find. Here are a just few resources that have been useful in finding my next section of the trail for which to mosey:
Wilderness Press Day & Section Hikes: Pacific Crest Trail
These books are a great jumping off point when deciding what portion of the trail you want to tackle. The guides are split up into four books covering sections of varying length across Southern and Northern California, Oregon and Washington. Although these books are relatively frill-free (Re: grainy black and white images) they do make a point to rate sections based on difficulty, scenery and solitude in addition to providing a solid overview of what to expect and detailed instructions on getting to the trailhead.
Halfmile’s PCT App
Available for iOS and Android, this free app is a trusty little companion for when you are on or close to the trail. Using your phone’s GPS and a database of various landmarks, like water sources, along the entirety of the PCT, Halfmile can tell you just how far you are from or along the trail. A nice bonus is that this app will still run even when there’s no service to be found, which is roughly everywhere if your service provider rhymes with Smee-Smobile.
When I’m looking to go rogue with my PCT section hiking, Google Maps is my go-to. I like to use the Wildnerness Press guides to get a general feel for where popular segments of the PCT are located and then use Google Maps to follow the trail to another, usually more secluded section of the trail nearby. With this method it’s really simple to find roads that intersect with the trail which then makes it even easier to find the directions you need to reach the access point.
Seriously, don’t miss out on an opportunity to experience this trail just because you think you don’t have the time. Section hiking the Pacific Crest Trail allows you to get an abridged but equally as magnificent version of this truly stunning trek. You may even see the elusive Tree Nose.
Finally, shout out to the PCTA Volunteers that work so hard to maintain this trail so that people can mosey it in chunks both big and small!