Plan Your Thru-Hike


Every adventure follows the same pattern: someone is inspired and sets a goal. They then conduct research, estimate costs, raise funds, assemble their Argonauts, and set sail. Maybe the goal is achieved, maybe not. 

 

There is no other comprehensive online resource to help you plan a Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike besides this site. You should be able to find everything you need to know here. We can help you determine your goal, research it, and estimate costs, prepare, plan, and set sail. The rest of the work, you have to do yourself.


Step 1: Make Sure You Really Want To Do This

It may be a good idea to read accounts from other PCT thru-hikers and see what their experiences were like. This site is about the nuts and bolts of planning and completing a thru-hike. While we do talk about the thru-hike experience, we don't get too personal about what it feels like trying to sleep in 100+ degree heat under the slim shade of a Joshua Tree, or walk for days and days in Oregon's unending rain.

 

Why should that matter? The Pacific Crest Trail experience is very different than the AT, and a lot of hikers look to the PCT for their next adventure after the AT. If you hiked the AT and are looking for a similar experience, you may be disappointed. There are no shelters and so the social aspect of the trek is different. You see people in town more than on the trail itself. The days are longer. You never summit a peak unless you detour off-trail. The climate and terrain dramatically change twice so you have to adjust your gear, style, and expectations throughout the trip.

 

Be sure you know what the Trail will be like and are up for the challenge. We would hate for someone to plan a thru-hike for months, then arrive in Campo and start hiking only to quit because they are disappointed by what they find. No one should be surprised by that 21-mile stretch with no water on the first day.


Step 2: Read the Rest of This Website

This site should answer all of your questions about both the Pacific Crest Trail. Our expert articles cover all the logistical concerns, like resupplying food, resupplying fuel, dealing with permits and the Canadian visa, the costs of a thru-hike (even what to do with your car while you're gone), transportation to the termini, and what guidebooks and maps you should carry.

 

Buying replacement gear along the Trail is expensive, so we want you to arrive at Campo with all the right stuff. We have detailed articles covering the most appropriate clothes for Florida, the right footwear for deserts, the snowy Sierras, and rainy Oregon, as well as lightweight tents, backpacks, and other gear. Our gear checklist will make sure you don't forget anything. We even talk about how to save money and provide a list of stuff you definitely shouldn't bring.

 

We go into detail about the kind of weather you will experience, how to avoid dangerous plants along the Trail, and trail rumors about mountain lions eating hikers. We want everyone to remain healthy despite extremes of heat and cold, so our articles about keeping clean and staying healthy are specific about the challenges posed by the diverse PCT environments.

 

Because not all hikers are the same, we have articles for military veterans who want to thru-hike. Women have different needs and concerns than men, and we cover them in a comprehensive way. Couples too will find advice about traveling together, maintaining intimacy, and even how to make sure your sleeping bags can zip together.

 

Finally, we know that nothing is tougher on a thru-hike than the mental and emotional challenges. Based on years of experience, we write about facing and overcoming those mental hurdles and even how to transition back to normal life when you come home.

 

Ready to get started? If you are certain the PCT is going to be your next adventure, then planning begins at our Logistics & Preparation page.