Pacific Crest Trail Resupply Guide

It’s that time again: time for this year’s PCT class to plan their resupply. In 2016 around this time, I was dehydrating apples and beef in a panic, flipping through hiker recipe books, and emailing freeze-dried food companies with sponsorship requests.

planning pct resupply

My living room, January 2016.

Having now survived a PCT thru-hike and the planning that went into it, I’m a little calmer and, since I don’t have to pack your boxes, full of unsolicited advice about how to do it right.

The bottom line? You don’t have to send yourself everything. In fact, you can get away with surprisingly few boxes if you aren’t dealing with a dietary restriction. Here are my recommendations for where to send boxes, where not to send boxes, and how to find balance in your own PCT resupply strategy.

The PCT Resupply Guide Quick Navigation

The Three PCT Resupply Strategies

What the Pros Recommend
PCT Resupply Recommendations by Region

Shipping with USPS
Shipping with UPS
Hiker Box Roulette

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My freezer, March 2016.

The Three PCT Resupply Strategies

  1. Buy as you go—as the PCT grows in popularity, this option becomes increasingly possible
  2. Send yourself packages
  3. Combine 1 and 2, which is what the blog Halfway Anywhere suggests, and also what pretty much any former thru-hiker would tell you to do.

Buying Along the Trail

Buying food along the PCT used to be a serious logistical feat, but the PCT has changed a lot in the past decade. Between 2013 and 2019, the number of permits issued more than quadrupled, with almost 7,900 people registering to thru or section hike the trail in 2019. One of the effects of this use increase is expanded options for resupply.

I hiked the trail in 2016 with a 2015 Yogi guide and found that dozens of stores listed as having little to no resupply had seriously upped their game for the new season. As the trail stands now, you could buy as you go for every section and still be able to eat decent hiker food for about 90% of your hike (there will, of course, always be those times when you end up eating a bag of crackers for dinner). However, some of the places that upped their resupply game are also very remote, which means that unless you don’t mind paying $3 for a Clif bar, you might want to send yourself a box.

pct resupply guide

A PCT resupply: example 1.

Pros: More flexibility, no shipping and handling costs or expensive postage, no planning around PO hours

Cons: More time-consuming in the moment for big resupplies, fewer choices (you get what you get), planning around business hours, food insecurity in more rural areas  (well, not exactly – you can resupply from anywhere, but there’s no guarantee it’s going to be convenient hiker food. You might end up carrying canned beans).

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pct resuppy in town

A PCT resupply: example 2.

Sending Yourself Packages

You could send yourself all of your packages ahead of time, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The postage cost sometimes more than evens out the $3 trail-town Cliff Bars mentioned above, and you need to make sure you’re getting into town on days the post office is open (it can be surprisingly difficult to keep track of the days of the week from the trail).

There is also the major downside of you not being able to plan anything. If your pace increases or decreases, if you get injured, if the weather forces you to flip-flop, or if you just get sick of your food – you can’t change your boxes. You can call up post offices and ask them to bounce them to a different PO if they’re priority mail, but that’s about the extent of the flexibility you have.

READ NEXT – The PCT Thru-Hiker Checklist: Do These 29 Things Before You Hit the Trail

There’s also the likely chance that post offices and stores will send your packages home because they’ve been sitting there for three months taking up space. Sending everything ahead of time means keeping a massive list of tracking numbers and making a lot of phone calls, and on the whole, can be a logistical nightmare. Try to avoid this by instead sending packages one month or one section (i.e. the desert, the Sierra Nevada range, all of Washington state) at a time. There are basically two ways to do this:

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Having a Contact Send You Packages

This could be a friend or, most likely, your mom. Let’s be honest – she worries. Of course, not everyone has a mom willing to spend her summer checking spreadsheets so, in lieu of that, a lot of hikers are opting now to send themselves stuff through PCT resupply companies. One of the most popular options currently operational is Zero Day Resupply. Another popular service, Sonora Pass Resupply, closed in 2020 due to the pandemic and has not reopened—at this time, it’s unclear whether they’re coming back at all. Zero Day carries all the major hiker staples, from jars of peanut butter to backpacker meals, and they keep an updated list of all locations.

It’s a little more expensive than sending yourself food, but it pays to have someone on the other end of your packages who actually has phone service and access to the internet.

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Little Spoon reaching PCT resupply hysteria.

Sending Yourself Packages on Trail

This method, referred to by my friend Centerfold (and only by him) as the ‘punk rock resupply’ strategy, is arguably the most popular option for PCT hikers. At least, I noticed a lot of hikers doing it. It basically entails stopping in larger towns like Tehachapi, South Lake Tahoe, or Ashland, buying what you’ll need for the next month, and sending boxes ahead. Most hikers take zeroes in large places like this anyway, so it shouldn’t cut into your overall time too much to devote one day out of every 30 to shopping and mailing boxes.

This approach has several major advantages. For one, you are predicting what you need one month at a time instead of at home before you start, so your sense of what you need to eat and what you want to eat will be updated for each shopping trip. And secondly, unless you live on the West coast, your shipping and handling costs will be lower. Priority mail is a flat rate from anywhere in the US, but if you’re only sending packages a couple hundred miles, you can ship based on zone and often save money. For places that accept UPS only, this is a HUGE money saver.

pct resupply guide

The only people I met who sent themselves all their mail drops before getting on the trail were identical twins with celiac disease.  They pre-made all of their food and dehydrated it ahead of time because, when you’re allergic to trail mix and pasta sides, you don’t have a lot of options. The downside? One of the brothers quit early on, which meant that the remaining brother had to find a home for half of the food in all of his boxes. Usually, it ended up in hiker boxes and earned him a loyal following of hikers who appreciated quinoa.

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Making enough granola for five months – the before and after pictures.

Long story short, pre-making all of your food ahead of time is a big gamble. If you have a food allergy or other dietary restrictions, it might be your best bet – but if you are considering this option because you want to save money or make things more convenient for yourself, you risk doing neither. You can also mail yourself a few specialty items to supplement the crap you buy as you go—for example, dehydrated veggies to enhance your ramen or smoothie powders to drink in the morning alongside your Pop-Tarts.

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pct resupply mcdonalds

Speaking of convenience, don’t miss a McDonald’s that’s .4 off the trail.

The Hybrid Approach

Of course, most hikers don’t go all the way with one strategy. They mix and match.

Before you decide what you want to send ahead versus buy in the moment, you need to know a few things about yourself.

Question 1: What is your pace?

If you’ve hiked the AT before, you have a good idea of your personal pacing. The PCT is graded as an equestrian trail, meaning it has almost half as much elevation change per mile as the AT. That also means that, given good conditions, you’ll hike further and faster on the PCT. To estimate your PCT speed, I think this is pretty accurate:

Miles you hiked per day on the AT             X          1.4       =          PCT miles per day

If you could count on about 15 miles a day on the AT, expect to hit around 21 per day on the PCT. If you usually hiked 20 miles a day on the AT, then you’ll have no problem doing 28-mile days.

I am not a fast hiker or a strong hiker. I am five feet four inches tall, and I’m not particularly ultralight (take that statement as you will). My longest day carrying a full pack on the AT was 27 miles (in Pennsylvania, which is pretty flat by AT standards), and on the PCT, it was 36 miles (in Washington, actually, which is not flat by PCT standards). No matter how slow of a hiker you are, you will be able to hike a 30-mile-day on the PCT, even if you only do it once.

Craig’s PCT planner is also a great tool for estimating your timing.

Question 2: What are your priorities?

Write down these four priorities in order of what matters the most to you on your hike: time, money, taste, and overall health.

You can save on time and eat healthy, good-tasting food if you buy tons of high-end bars and freeze-dried dinners and ship them to yourself ahead of time, but that costs a lot of money.

You can save on money and still eat healthy, tasty food if you dehydrate everything ahead of time and send it to yourself, but this is a huge undertaking, takes a ton of time and energy, and often costs more than people realize between shipping and handling and fees to accept packages.

You can also save on time by buying as you go, but that involves a balancing act between spending a lot of money at expensive outposts and camp stores for good food or saving your money but sacrificing your health (and let’s face it, taste) by living off of mashed potatoes and Clif bars.

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What the Pros Recommend

Halfway Anywhere – this site is amazing. The guy who owns it does a comprehensive survey every year of hundreds of thru-hikers, then breaks down their different PCT resupply strategies with percentages and graphs. So I co-opted his information and put it side by side with other people’s recommendations. Mac, the guy behind Halfway Anywhere, also happens to be a contributor to Pacific Crest Trials.

Plan Your Hike – another PCT planning website that compiled a complete list of PCT resupply points by mileage and starred their recommendations for stopping at.

Hike Bike Safari – Brad McCartney’s site is great for adventure inspiration (his pictures are fantastic) and the often roguish hike bike safari recommendations for life. I got to meet ‘Shepherd’, as he’s known on trail, at the beginning of my own PCT hike in, of all places, a San Diego backpacker’s hostel where he was staying before heading out to start the CDT northbound.  He gave us some tips on the PCT, mainly, “don’t worry about the resupply.” Shepherd managed to hike through almost without sending a single package to himself. As a big proponent of the resupply-as-you-go method, I thought it might be helpful to include the resupply recommendations from his website in this chart.

Maggie ‘Chuckles’ Wallace (Me) – OK, maybe I’m not up there with these other giants of the PCT resupply world, but since I’m writing this article, I thought you might want to know what I did. I also included a column for what I would like to do if I hiked again, assuming that I was sending myself packages from the trail.

The chart below includes most available resupply locations along the PCT and compares the individual strategies of a few trail veterans from these websites:

pct resupply guide

Click on the chart above for the full data.

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PCT Resupply Recommendations by Region

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The Desert

It’s actually pretty easy to buy your way through here, and also pretty smart. If you buy food along the way, you’re more likely to plan what you need better than if you send yourself all your food, so your pack weight can be lower. This is extremely important in the desert, where you may have to carry 15 pounds of water at a time. There are even a few spots where you can pack out a burrito for the next day and reach another resupply that night (like Lake Morena and Cajon Pass).

It’s also important to note that in the desert, where fire closures are abundant, flexibility is very important. There were multiple times when I was glad I didn’t have to worry about getting to a post office to pick up my package on a section of trail that was closed for fire.

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Where You Should Send a Package in Southern California

According to Halfway Anywhere’s 2021 survey, the places in the desert that most hikers recommended “definitely” sending a box were Warner Springs and Acton KOA.

Warner Springs (mile 110) – A small community that is basically made up of a ‘hiker resource center,’ a gas station, and a post office. While the gas station’s resupply offerings have expanded in recent years, they remain somewhat limited, so consider sending a box. They’re very nice and will drive you to the post office from the resource center. To send yourself a package, address it to:

Your Name
c\o General Delivery
Warner Springs, CA 92086.

The post office also has a hiker box, where you might find some surprise goodies.

Acton KOA (444) — Sending a box here spares you a hitch into the town of Acton. Send your box to:

Your Name
c/o The KOA 7601 Soledad Canyon Rd
Acton, CA 93510

Write your ETA on the box. They charge $4 a package. As above, there’s a hiker box that can get pretty extensive.

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The Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada range is completely its own thing. It’s the hardest part of the PCT to plan around—and the most remote. You will need to send all of your packages at least three weeks in advance, but a month is better. Everyone’s mileage automatically drops down to about 75% of what they’ve been doing because of elevation and snow, and climbing Mt. Whitney (which you absolutely should do) adds an extra 16 to 17 miles, depending on your route, making the stretches between resupplies at least a week or more for many hikers.

But that also means that there are only a few different ways to plan your resupply. None of them are ideal, but all of them are adventures – and that is what you signed up for.

pct resupply sierra nevada

The Sierra section of this guide is set up differently than the other sections because it really deserves its own standalone guide. The mileage is going to appear off at times if you add it up because I’m including side trails and the 17-mile round-trip Mt. Whitney loop in my calculations.

I’m also operating on the assumption that hikers are entering the Sierra Nevada after June 1st (though it’s best to enter after June 15th in normal-high snow years to avoid impassable snow). If you’re going through before June (and I knew some people who did), some of these services may not be available yet. Be sure to check online for when they are opening in the year you’re attempting your hike.

Where You Can Resupply in the Sierra Range

Mile 702 Kennedy Meadows – The ‘gateway to the Sierra’ is half a mile off the PCT, and everyone has to stop here to get their packages. This is where you’ll send yourself the first leg of your Sierra Nevada resupply, your required bear canister, and your winter gear for the snow up ahead. There are two places to send packages: the General Store and Grumpy Bear’s. Stores like Triple Crown Outfitters, the General Store, and Grumpy’s also have options for a basic resupply if you don’t want to mail yourself things in advance. To send to the general store, address to:

(YOUR NAME)
c/o KENNEDY MEADOWS GENERAL STORE
96740 BEACH MEADOW RD
INYOKERN CA 93527

It’s $5 to receive or send a package, which can add up quickly.

You can also send a package to Grumpy Bear’s Retreat Center for free. This combo bar/diner/post office is a bit further from the trailhead, but their all-you-can-eat breakfast pancakes are an iconic PCT experience. Mail your boxes to:

(YOUR NAME)
C/O GRUMPY BEAR’S RETREAT
98887 KENNEDY MEADOWS RD
INYOKERN CA 93527

pct resupply guide

Of course, Kennedy Meadows is where your friends and family will probably send you letters of encouragement and inconvenient packages to completely throw off your planning.img_3812

745 Cottonwood Pass (leads to Horseshoe Meadow, and you can hitch to the town of Lone Pine) – 1.7 mile hike one way and 20 mile hitch to town. Lone Pine has a small grocery store where you can get a reasonable resupply, and an outdoor shop with a lot of hiker-friendly food and supplies. To send a box to Lone Pine, address to:

Your Name Here
c\o General Delivery
Lone Pine, CA 93545

(766 Mt. Whitney spur, 8.4 miles to summit one way)

790 Kearsarge Pass (leads to Onion Valley Trailhead, where you can hitch to the towns of Independence, Bishop, and Lone Pine) – 7.6-mile hike one way and 15-mile hitch to town. Independence is basically only a post office. However, it’s a much shorter hitch than the other towns, so if you’re trying to get back on trail quickly, send a box to:

Your Name Here
c\o General Delivery
Independence, CA 93526

Bishop has a real grocery store, several outdoor shops, and restaurants, bars, and even a movie theatre and bowling alley. To send yourself a package, address to:

Your Name Here
c\o General Delivery
Bishop, CA 93514

831 Bishop Pass (you can hitch to the town of Bishop from the trailhead) – 11.8-mile hike one way plus 22-mile hitch to town

856 Muir Trail Ranch – off trail 1.5 miles, $75 fee to receive a package on top of normal shipping and handling, but you can send USPS. In all fairness, the packages are mule packed in, so the price is actually reasonable. You have to mail your package at least 3 weeks ahead of time. Follow the link to arrange your resupply.

If you time it right, the JMTers who didn’t know how much they’d eat before packing and shipping their boxes will leave a ton of hiker box goodies.

877 Vermillion Valley Resort – off trail 1.5 miles and a ferry ride ($12 one way for the water taxi), or you could take the seven-mile Bear Ridge trail at mile 874.5 and take the ferry or the Goodale Pass trail to reconnect to the trail. VVR is very hiker friendly, with free camping, a restaurant (with work-for-stay options), a reasonably extensive store for resupply, and one free beer for thru-hikers.

There is a $25 dollar fee to collect a package. To send via USPS, send to:

Hold for Hiker (Your Name)
c/0 VVR –  General Delivery
Lakeshore, California, 93634

For UPS or Fed/Ex, send to:

Vermillion Valley Resort
c/o China Peak Landing
62311 Huntington Lake Road
Lakeshore, Ca. 93634

According to the VVR website, “This address IS correct; however, the UPS or Fed-X system will say that it is not. Please have the UPS clerk override the system with this address. It WILL get delivered at this address.”

903 Mammoth Pass (3.5 miles to trailhead, bus, or hitch into Mammoth Lakes) – Mammoth Lakes is a large town used to supporting a lot of outdoor recreation. There are multiple grocery stores, movie theaters, outdoor stores, motels/hostels, and restaurants. If you want to send yourself a package, address it to:

Your Name Here
c\o General Delivery
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

903 Red’s Meadow – a store, a restaurant (with famous milkshakes), an incredible hiker box, and another cheap bus to Mammoth that arrives on the hour ($7 one way) make this an essential stop for thru-hikers. Once you’ve hit Red’s, the hard part of the Sierra resupply is over. Red’s Meadow does not get regular mail delivery but can pick up packages from Mammoth Lakes for a fee. For more information on sending PCT resupply packages to Red’s Meadow, see here. Since Red’s is only 36 miles from Tuolumne Meadows, where you can send a package easily, I recommend resupplying from the Red’s Meadow store or going into Mammoth Lakes.

942 Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite) – a camp store with pretty good options, accepts packages also. You have to mail your package at least three weeks ahead of time. Send to:

Your Name
c\o General Delivery
Tuolumne Meadows Post Office
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

From Tuolumne Meadows, you can also catch a hitch or a bus to either Yosemite Valley or the town of Lee Vining, both of which have lodging, stores, and more amenities.

1018 Sonora Pass – You can hitch 10 miles to Kennedy Meadows North (has a store and accepts packages) or 32 miles to the town of Bridgeport. From Bridgeport, you can also hitch to the town of Walker. To send a package to Kennedy Meadows North, address it to:

Your Name
c\o Kennedy Meadows Resort & Pack Station
57 Miles East of Sonora on Hwy 108
Sonora, CA 95370

For the Bridgeport post office, send to:

Your Name
c\o General Delivery
Bridgeport, CA 93517

1093 South Lake Tahoe – Congratulations! You’re in Northern California. This is a good location to stage any packages you want to send yourself in the upcoming section.

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Resupply Itinerary 1

Kennedy Meadows (702) – Kearsarge Pass (790) 114 miles

Kearsarge Pass (790) – Red’s Meadow (903) 123 miles

From Kennedy Meadows, hike to Kearsarge Pass and into the Onion Valley Trailhead, where you’ll hitch to Independence. This is about 114 miles of hiking (including the Whitney summit and side trail to the trailhead) and should take roughly one week. You want to plan to get to the trailhead on a weekend because otherwise, it could take you a full day to get a hitch down to town. When you get back on at Onion Valley Trailhead, you’ll be able to make it to Red’s Meadow in about 123 miles, which you should budget around seven days for, if possible.

This is the toughest section of the Sierra and the most heavily snowbound. Your pace will be slower, and between the cold and elevation, you’ll be hungrier than normal. This is probably the most popular resupply strategy we saw, although there was variation with people who chose to stop at Muir Trail Ranch or Vermillion Valley Resort to pick up a little extra food or a package and cut their weight down.

Advantages: By cramming more miles in between resupplies, you can save time (getting into town can take a while), money (who can say no to a town burger), and anxiety (hitching in the Sierra can be difficult). Kearsarge is also gorgeous.

Disadvantages: A week of food once you’re 800 miles into your hiker hunger can be really heavy. You also need to ensure it fits inside your bear canister, which can be quite a challenge on the thru-hiker diet.

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Itinerary 2

Kennedy Meadows (702) – Cottonwood Pass (745) 45 miles

Cottonwood Pass (745) – Vermillion Valley Resort (877) 150 miles

Vermillion Valley Resort (877) – Red’s Meadow (903) 25 miles

From Kennedy Meadows, hike 45 miles (a little over two days) down to Horseshoe Meadow via Cottonwood Pass and hitch to Lone Pine for your resupply (hitches can be easier to find on weekends, but then the post office in Lone Pine will be closed). From Cottonwood Pass, it’s about 150 miles to get to Vermillion Valley Resort (again, that’s including the Whitney summit and both side trails).

This is a pretty long haul, so if you don’t want to pack that much food, there are several other resupply options on the way. You’ll pass Kearsarge Pass after about 61 miles, Bishop Pass after about 102 (this option is your last resort because it’s quite a haul to take Bishop Pass out of the Sierra), and the restaurant at Muir Trail Ranch (which has a great hiker box, but you shouldn’t count on that being full) about 127 miles into this stretch, in case you are a day short on your food.

Our hiking partner Camel opted to do this and ended up stopping at Muir Trail Ranch to get a quick meal before he made it to VVR. At VVR, you can send yourself a package for a $25 collection fee – it’s high, but it’s a lot more convenient than hitchhiking from a remote trailhead seven miles off the PCT.

You could also buy food at the VVR store (pretty pricey, I hear) to get you the 25 miles to Red’s Meadow. The Yankee in me can’t recommend with a clear conscience that you send a package to Muir Trail Ranch for $75 dollars, but it would be really convenient to get your resupply a full day earlier and skip VVR altogether. A lot of hikers said VVR was a money pit, so maybe Muir is a smarter investment in the long run.

Advantages: by planning to stop in more towns, you can get more flexibility in what and how much you eat. You can also carry less food weight.

Disadvantages: The 150 miles between Cottonwood Pass and VVR are really challenging, and food can be heavy. Stopping in MTR or VVR can get expensive and take time.

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Itinerary 3

Kennedy Meadows (702) – Kearsarge Pass (790): 114 miles

Kearsarge Pass (790) – VVR (877): 87 miles

VVR (877) – Red’s Meadow (906): 25 miles

By adding in VVR as a resupply point, the maximum amount of food you need to carry is about a week, between Kennedy Meadows and Kearsarge Pass. If you can manage more than 15 miles a day, you may be able to carry less (though this depends on snow conditions and how well you adjust to the altitude). VVR and Red’s Meadow are close to the trail which spares the anxiety of hitching, and both are well suited to support hikers. They are also both places where it’s easy to “near-0,” and they’re marketed towards hikers.

Advantages: Keeps you from spending too much time in town, no resupply stretch is too long.

Disadvantages: Carrying a week of food is still a lot.

Other Options

Of course, there are other creative ways to approach the Sierra range. You could hike out through the Whitney Portal on the other side of Mt. Whitney if you get all the right permits. I saw someone who drove up to stash packages at the trail heads for Cottonwood Pass and Kearsarge Pass, eliminating the uncertainty of getting a hitch. Our hiking partner, Toe Touch, treated the whole experience as a marathon and hiked 220 miles from Kennedy Meadows to Red’s Meadow without resupplying once. So if you’re completely insane, that’s an option. Or you might prefer to stop more often, take the most beautiful section of the PCT slowly, and hit all of the possible resupplies.

In any event, when you stop at Tehachapi or Mojave, look at all your options and find the best solution for yourself up ahead – and don’t let anyone tell you their strategy is better than yours because in the Sierra, no one’s resupply makes sense.

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Toe Touch’s pack entering the Sierra Nevada range.

Where You Should Send a Package After Red’s Meadow

Everything gets easier after Red’s Meadow. There’s a bus to Mammoth Lakes, which has a great resupply, and if you choose not to enter Mammoth Lakes, you can resupply from Red’s camp store (pretty good selection) and hiker box (an amazing hiker box) for the couple of days you’ll have before reaching Tuolumne Meadows. These spots are the most convenient ones to have a package waiting for you:

Tuolumne Meadows (942) – Accepts hiker packages and has a pretty good camp store that you could resupply out of (a little expensive). (Note: As of September 2022, Tuolumne Meadows Campground is closed for the next several years for repairs and restoration. the store and post office are still open). Send packages to:

Your Name
c\o General Delivery
Tuolumne Meadows Post Office
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Sonora Pass (1018) – I would recommend sending your package to Kennedy Meadows North (they only accept UPS, so it’s expensive), but you could also hitch the really long haul down to Bridgeport if you want to save money by going to the PO or shopping in town. A lot of hikers want to send their winter gear home at this point, but you might want it for the section before SLT. To send packages to Kennedy Meadows North, address it to:

Your Name Here
c\o Kennedy Meadows Resort & Pack Station
57 Miles East of Sonora on Hwy 108
Sonora, CA 95370

And to send to Bridgeport, address it to:

Your Name
c\o General Delivery
Bridgeport, CA 93517

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Northern California

This is the longest section of trail (or at least, it feels like it). You’re back to fire closures and long water carries, but instead of sweeping vistas, your view seems to be mostly of old burn scars and cows. But there are some beautiful sections still, and on the bright side, pretty decent resupply options most of the way. You don’t really need to worry about packages in NorCal. You could go through this entire section without sending a package, but you might make your life easier by sending a couple.

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Where You Should Send a Package in Northern California

Sierra City (1195) – An old California mining town. There is a general store where you can find a somewhat expensive resupply with the typical hiker offerings. Send boxes to:

Your Name
c/o Sierra Country Store
213 Main St
Sierra City, CA 96125

Belden (1289) – A little resort and lodge best known for its raves. They’re very nice there and happy to accommodate hikers, but if you stay there over the weekend, you probably won’t get much sleep. Their camp store is passable but expensive, and they charge $15 per package (UPS only), so you might want to go a mile up the road to Caribou Crossroads campground PO where you can send a package general delivery for free. Caribu Crossroads also has a decently stocked camp store, showers, and laundry. To send a package to Caribou Crossroads, address it to:

Your Name
c/o Caribou Crossroads Store
16242 Highway 70
Belden, CA 95915

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pct resupply

Oregon

The Oregon trail has two sides to it. Although it’s home to two of the largest and most interesting towns you’ll hit on the trail (Ashland and Bend), it also passes through very rural areas.  You’ll hit Ashland 27 miles into Oregon, and then after a few days of debauchery in the first big town you’ve seen in weeks, you’ll get back on trail. For the next 263 miles until Bend, you’ll pass exclusively through campgrounds, marinas, and national parks. The worst combination of worlds for a thru-hiker, this means lots of people but very little (and very expensive) food.

You’re better off sending yourself packages in this section if possible. It might be too late to send them from Ashland, so I would recommend sending them ahead from an earlier location like Mt. Shasta.   That lets you breeze through Crater Lake National Park and dozens of campgrounds, picking up a few days of food at a time (and occasionally a hot cup of coffee) as you go. If you plan Oregon right, it can be the best state on the PCT for resupply because of its many camp stores and options for sending packages; conversely, if you don’t plan well, you can end up paying out your cat-hole-filler for expired Idahoans.

pct resupply tortillas

No matter how bad the resupply options are on the PCT, tortillas can fix anything.

Where You Should Send a Package in Oregon

Since you’ll be moving pretty quickly in Oregon (most thru-hikers are consistently hitting mileage in the high 20s at this point), you really only need to send packages to three or four locations.

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Crater Lake National Park (1830) – A hundred miles past Ashland, send your package to Mazama Village store (it’s not far off the trail and has showers). Address your box to:

Your Name
c/o Mazama Village Store
P.O. Box 158
Crater Lake, OR 97604

Shelter Cove Resort (1912) – 90 miles after Crater Lake. Bend, with lots of grocery options, is located 88 miles later. They accept UPS only. Address to:

Your Name
c/o Shelter Cove Resort
27600 West Odell Lake Rd
Highway 58
Crescent Lake, OR 97733

Big Lake Youth Camp (2002) – Right on trail a couple miles after Santiam Pass, which is arguably the easiest road (highway 20) to take to Bend.  If you’re going into Bend (which I recommend), obviously you don’t need to send a package here but if you’re trying to make faster time in Oregon, this place is very helpful.  There’s a “PCT Center” with friendly vegan Christians who I’ve heard will invite you to a meal if you’re there during camping season before mid-August. If you show up in the second half of August or later, the camp may be empty, but your package should still be there. Address to:

Your Name
c/o Big Lake Youth Camp
26435 Big Lake Rd
Sisters, OR 97759

Timberline Lodge (2107) – About 110 miles after Bend, it shouldn’t be hard to get here with only one resupply since you also hit Olallie Lake Resort. Timberline has a vending machine and sells backpacker meals in their store, but I wouldn’t suggest trying to resupply here. You’ll probably want to send yourself a package at Timberline with your ‘wet weather gear’ before you cross over the mountains into the Washington section of trail, so you can add a couple of days of food to the package. Whatever you do, don’t miss the breakfast buffet here. There is a $5 fee for holding packages. Include your ETA on the box, and write “PCT HIKER” all over it. Address packages to:

Guest Services – Timberline Lodge
PCT Hiker: Your Name
27500 E Timberline Rd.
Government Camp, OR 97028

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Washington

Washington is great because not only are you a pro by now at resupplying, but you basically only cross about six roads – and they’re all very conveniently spaced. You’re going to pass a major route with a gas station or ski resort roughly every 100 miles in Washington. Most of them have some kind of PCT-friendly resupply option (although it tends to be a little expensive), and all of them accept hiker packages. If you want to make miles and not worry about logistics or buying pricey gas station food in Washington, send yourself four (or five) packages from Ashland or Bend.

pct resupply guide

Foraging: fun but not sufficient in calories. (Please ignore dirty hands here.)

Where You Should Send a Package in Washington

There are four stops in Washington that are almost universally used by all hikers (Trout Lake is a possible fifth). You absolutely will stop at these places because they are on trail, they are convenient and geared towards hikers, and by the time you reach Washington, it will be raining – and maybe snowing. It’s often more convenient to send a box to these locations rather than trying to resupply from ski resorts or hitch long distances into tourist towns.

Trout Lake (2230) – it’s about 153 miles from Cascade Locks to White Pass, but you can stop halfway through at Trout Lake (a 13-mile hitch hike) to resupply at their general store, which has great smoked salmon and cheese. The town is also adorable and has huckleberry milkshakes and friendly locals, so I recommend going there if you have the opportunity—it’s known as being very hiker friendly.

White Pass (2303) – The Kracker Barrel has a very hit-or-miss resupply store, depending on the day. You can hedge your bets, send yourself a package or try to catch a hitch into Packwood, around 20 miles away. The town of Packwood does not appear to have cell phone service, but you get a little at White Pass and the downtown of Trout Lake. If you have to figure out anything online or via phone, do it before leaving Cascade Locks because you won’t have a reliable connection again until Snoqualmie. Package pickup from the White Pass Kracker Barrel is $5 a package. Address it to:

Your Name
c/o Kracker Barrel Store
48851 US Highway 12
Naches, WA 98937

Snoqualmie Pass (2402) – great food at the food truck here and beers at the brewery. You can send a package to the Chevron, but literally no one recommends that. Send your package to the lodge there instead. There’s a $15 holding fee if you’re a non-guest, but Washington is rainy and cold, and the motels are few and far between. In other words, you’ll want to stay there, so just budget for it. There are moderate resupply offerings between the Chevron, Laconia market, and Lee’s Grocery. If you’d prefer to send a package, address it to:

Your Name Here
c/o Summit Inn
603 State Route 906
Snoqualmie Pass, WA 98068

Stevens Pass (2476) – The upcoming hundred-mile stretch is one of the toughest stretches on the trail, so expect to go slower and bring more food than you think you’ll need. You can either mail yourself a box to the lodge, or try to hitch down into Skykomish or Leavenworth (a rural Washington town modeled after a Bavarian village). (Note on cell reception: there’s no cell reception after this unless you hitch about 20 miles down from Rainy pass.  Stehekin has a pay phone you can use and you’ll have reception when you get to Canada – but if you have a US carrier and no international plan, you can’t use it. Make your plans now!) The Steven’s Pass Lodge only accepts UPS or FedEx. Address your package to:

Your Name
c/o Stevens Pass, Through Higher
93001 NE Stevens Pass Hwy, US2
Skykomish, WA 98288

Stehekin, WA (2574) – From Stehekin, it’s 90 miles to the finish, this is most people’s last PCT resupply. However, if you need to bail out, you can stop at Rainy Pass and go to Mazama or the little ‘wild west’ town of Winthrop, both of which have great grocery stores and gear shops. In 2021, almost 80% of hikers said you should “definitely” send a box here. Address it to:

Your Name
c/o General Delivery
Stehekin, WA 98852

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I could list all PCT resupply addresses here, but that’s painfully redundant given how much information is out there on the internet. Cross-reference these helpful sites while you’re planning your resupply:

  • As the Crow Flies – I found this to have the most accurate and helpful information about each PCT resupply location.
  • Plan Your Hike – This is great just for easily locating the address you need.
  • FarOut – Only the greatest navigation app on there. It makes planning so easy and accessible, and comments are a great way to get the most up-to-date information.

READ NEXT – Are These the 11 Hardest Resupply Towns on the PCT?

pct resupply priority box

Image courtesy of Ray Bouknight.

PCT Resupply with USPS

If your box is sent priority mail, most post offices will bounce it ahead with just a phone call, but some won’t bounce a box unless the hiker is there in person. For those who want cut-and-dry rules, this is frustrating. Actually, I haven’t been able to find on the USPS website where it specifies that you can bounce a priority package remotely, so I’m not totally sure if it even is a rule or if most postal service workers are just being helpful.

pacific-crest-trials-leaderboard-ad

Postal workers along the PCT usually go out of their way to help hikers, but there were a few times on trail where I or hikers I knew experienced pushback. Most of the time, the problems were solved when we asked a post office worker at a different PO to call the uncooperative PO on our behalf.

What can you do to help these kind people keep doing their job (and make sure you actually get your package)?

Put your address on multiple sides of the box when you send it.

Write your address on multiple sides of the box in large, easily readable letters, following this format:

Firstname Lastname
PCT Hiker, ETA: MM/DD/YY
General Delivery
City, state, zip code

When you bounce your package ahead, make sure that you cover ALL labels with the old address on them.

Yes, even if it means triple checking with the PO worker. Forwarded packages are now read by machine, so if any addresses are left uncovered, the machine will pick them up and return them to the original PO. I had one package get returned to the Truckee PO three times because one of the addresses had not been covered up.

Put something colorful and recognizable on your box so you can identify it in a stack of boxes.

The key to this is choosing something that everyone else won’t choose. Bright-colored duct tape is a great idea, but you’ll soon learn which other hikers have the same color as you. I recommend buying tape with a weird pattern and applying it to your boxes in a creative way (maybe in giant x’s or cut into the shape of a dinosaur. Whatever works.)

pct resupply guide

Kennedy Meadows June 2016: This is why you make your package stand out.

Keep a list of packages you sent that includes their tracking numbers.

When the package goes missing, it doesn’t matter if you know the date you shipped it, the weight of the box, or the entire postal handbook by heart. The tracking number is the one thing you’re going to be asked for.

Send 2 – 4 weeks ahead of time.

Any more than that and some post offices or stores won’t continue to hold onto your package. Less than that and you risk not getting it on time.

In 2016, several hikers had their boxes sent back from Snoqualmie Pass because the store there instituted a new policy of only holding onto boxes for two weeks. This is unusual, and it’s PO policy to hold packages for 30 days, but you don’t know what’s going to happen when you send to a private business. And although many priority mail boxes you send yourself will arrive within two days, it’s important to remember that when you’re shipping to a remote post office, things can take much longer.

Even more importantly, overnight does not mean overnight. Because of crossed connections, my PCT resupply contact (if you remember, that’s my mom) had not sent my passport to Winthrop yet when I was only a week away from Rainy Pass, so I had her overnight it just in case. Good thing, because I still had to wait a day to get it. For those who are doing the math, that was an eight-day mail time for a $70 overnight fee. Another time, we bounced our Kennedy Meadows North package to the post office in Bridgeport a week ahead of time, but it still arrived a day after us because of forest fires that had closed down the highway.

When you are shipping fuel, make sure to specify that you want to ship ground.

If you are worried about shipping yourself fuel, this is a LongTrails Wiki list of places to resupply fuel. We never shipped ourselves fuel and never had a problem buying it, although there were a few times we were nervous and brought an extra small canister.

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PCT Resupply with UPS

Some places will only accept packages shipped via UPS. Also, UPS might be cheaper than USPS in situations where you’re sending from very nearby, such as to a town one to two hundred trail miles ahead of you. Outside of these very specific scenarios, don’t send packages via UPS. I don’t know if UPS uses solid gold delivery trucks or if they personally hire Kevin Costner to deliver your mail on horseback, but if you’re sending the package across county lines, you might as well set your money on fire.

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Hiker Box Roulette

The hiker box is the single most difficult variable to predict. Everything else has an order to it – USPS, UPS, private businesses along the PCT – but the hiker boxes are a purely chaotic construction. When you have more food than you can carry, you’ll find hiker boxes overflowing with amazing meals; and of course, you’ll drool over the memory of those meals when your package doesn’t arrive on time and you’re stuck pawing over unlabeled ziplocks full of mystery powder.

There are a few ways to predict what a hiker box will be like. You might find a good hiker box at a stop that’s a popular mail drop. You might also want to check hiker boxes after easy sections of trail, especially after the Sierra Nevada range when people are starting to get their trail legs and move faster – hikers moving faster than anticipated will have more food than they need. And of course, there’s the John Muir Trail hikers, those angels who tout fishing poles and leave a trail of backpacker meals behind them. JMT leavings have saved more than one PCT hiker at Muir Trail Ranch or Red’s Meadow.

On the whole, though, you can’t count on hiker boxes. There are times when your planning just won’t work out and the hiker box will come to the rescue. But recommending that you depend on them, ever, is the most certain way for me to invoke bad hiker box karma.

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Final Thoughts

Where does that all leave you?  With a lot of information to process, a lot of sources to cross-reference, and an incredible summer ahead of you.  In the end, there is no one way to do your resupply; The PCT is the greatest choose-your-own adventure you can undertake.  Even if you avoid all resupply planning before you leave home – you’ll be fine.  I hope this was helpful and that readers are kind enough to mention anything that I missed in the comments below.  Mostly though, I hope you’ll breathe deeply, spend as much time as you can before you leave with your family and friends, and, at least for now, not obsess over food – there will be plenty of that ahead of you.

Sources:

  1. Halfway Anywhere
  1. Plan Your Hike
  1. Bike Hike Safari – Brad McCartney has a good PCT resupply strategy from his 2015 hike that he lists out here in a really simple format. He’s more on the side of buying as you go and shipping boxes from the trail to remote areas.
  1. The PCTA also has a page where they talk about resupplying here.
  1. As the Crow Flies has a play-by-play description of trail stops and some other useful thru-hiking info.
  1. For those who love the nitty gritty of planning, check out Postholer’s hike planner.
  2. And of course, Halfmile’s maps have been invaluable to this article, my thru-hike, and all thru-hikers everywhere
  3. Farout

This article was originally published on 1/4/2017 by Maggie Wallace. It was updated by Penina Satlow on 9/20/2022.

Featured image: Graphic design by Zack Goldmann.

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Comments 26

  • Annette : Jan 5th

    Wow! Thank you, Maggie, for taking the time to write this post! I’m still working on my resupply plan, and there is a ton of useful information here. I’m going to go through it again with my spreadsheet.

    Reply
  • Isabelle : Jan 5th

    Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! Thank you for the time and effort! SO helpful!

    Reply
    • MARC : Nov 4th

      this is epic THANK YOU!!!

      Reply
  • Colleen : Jan 6th

    This was so incredibly helpful, thank you!!

    Reply
  • Kristin : Jan 6th

    This post is absolutely glorious! Thank you so much, Maggie!

    Reply
  • Jim : Jan 7th

    I think buying as you go totally works for the Sierra. KM South store was decently stocked though you might send a box just to be safe, but after that you can just resupply at Kearsarge/Bishop and then at Mammoth. Then the KM North store from Sonora Pass has enough to get by to make it to SLT. Also, these days with Guthook, Facebook people always report on the store stock levels up and down the trail.

    Reply
  • Pretzel : Jan 7th

    Using USPS Regional Rate boxes can save a lot of money! This is a under used service from long distance hiker. Source: Former shipping specialist

    Reply
    • Maggie Wallace : Mar 20th

      Thanks for the info!

      Reply
  • Robert : Jan 10th

    Nice article thanks for writing it. It should prove to be very helpful.
    But, I missing some very important info to consider.

    Should you buy or box ?
    How much do items cost at the store ?
    Ramen noodles ?
    Oatmeal ?
    Tortillas ?
    Peanut Butter ?
    Cheese ?

    Have my daily food cost plus shipping figured out,
    but resupply at small store cost is unknown ?
    So which is really cheaper.
    Any advice would be welcome.
    Thanks,
    Class of 2017

    Reply
    • Maggie Wallace : Mar 20th

      Apologies for not responding when you posted this, I hope I’m not too late! I’m afraid I don’t have much helpful information for you regarding the prices at each store. Any camp store you hit will most likely carry the items listed above (maybe some won’t have cheese). I’d say you can count on things being about 30% to 40% more expensive at these small stores, and in general maybe 10% pricier in larger stores on the west coast if you’re used to east coast prices. As to which is cheaper, buying or boxing, it really depends on where you’re sending from. I think the cheapest thing is actually to get most of your food in bulk through large grocery stores and then send it ahead up to 400 or 500 miles at a time. If you’ve already bought the food and plan to ship to yourself, be sure to cross-check UPS and USPS rates because there really can be a massive difference. Happy trails this year!

      Reply
  • FlorinaTheSamoan : Jan 10th

    Thanks thanks thanks! Pacific crest trail , this Samoan will,thru hIke you !!

    Thanks for the post .,very informative .. I’m not as stresses anymore !!

    Congrats to everyone doing the hike and that has done it ..

    “The trail is texting .. and I must reply”

    Reply
  • Anthony king : Jan 13th

    Thank you soooo much for writing this well thought out article. I’ve been starting to worry about all of this since the new year & April quickly approaching, but this definitely put me at ease (well, a little bit haha) but now I can breathe a sigh of relief having all this info at my fingertips.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  • Kat : Feb 25th

    So thorough! I hiked in 2015 and would say the exact same thing about resupplying. One option for the Sierra that you may have mentioned already (its a long way back up the page to check!) is the Mono Hotsprings resort instead of VVR. They have a post office, amazing restaurant, super nice staff, free hot springs, and free camping just up the road. For me, VVR was RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. I spent a total of 90 minutes there and left $50 poorer. Conversely, my double zero at Mono was like $20, and there were hotspings. I hitched there from VVR but there are multiple trail options for hiking.

    Reply
    • Maggie Wallace : Mar 20th

      Thanks for the suggestion! This is a big help. I skipped VVR and didn’t get the chance to check out Mono, I’m glad to hear that there’s another option!

      Reply
  • Nikolai Kotzman : Mar 19th

    Thank you so much for all of the information!! Its saved me in a big way. I’m leaving for the PCT in 3 days and just started to look at resupplies details, big procrastinator here. The best line I read though was, “Even if you avoid all resupply planning before you leave home – you’ll be fine.” This statement is exactly what I needed to calm me down.

    Reply
    • Maggie Wallace : Mar 20th

      I personally think Yogi should take a page from Douglas Adams and put a giant ‘Don’t Panic’ across the front of her trail guide. If worse comes to worst, you can always ask Scout and Frodo for advice. Their house is a seriously calming place for any hiker about to take the first step on the PCT. Good luck out there and happy trails!

      Reply
  • Maggie Wallace : Mar 20th

    Thank you for the positive comments! I had a lot of fun writing this so I hope it’s helpful to the 2017 class and beyond!

    Reply
  • Lance : May 12th

    Very good read. I although I will never complete the PCT I have enjoyed reading about those that do and have for years. This is one of the better and most complete blogs RE resupply I have found. Great work.

    Reply
  • Karen : Oct 25th

    Hi and I’m so happy I found this. Amazing info! I’m planning for 2018 from overseas so I don’t have a lot of time to fix it all when I arrive in the US and I “was” really nervous about that part until reading this. Thank you!! So helpful!!

    Reply
  • Brian Setzer : Nov 3rd

    Great info! Thanks. Will be referring to this plenty getting ready for next year.

    Reply
  • Caitlin "LL" Olson : Dec 4th

    I referred to this article a lot when planning my PCT hike! Thank you!

    Some updates from the trail. KM now charges $7 (not $5) per package. VVR now charges $30 or $35 (not $25) to hold a package, but my friend and I shipped to the post office in Mono Hot Springs (about 6 miles away from VVR) to successfully skip the absurd VVR fee.

    Reply
  • William O : Oct 29th

    Fuel Canisters

    Great article….I planning. So far the only availability listing I’ve found for canister fuel.
    Being a little more specific, can someone verify isobutane-propane canisters are relatively easy to buy?
    The type that is used for MSR Windburner or jet boils.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Dane (Omni) : Jan 11th

      You left out Cascade Locks on the Columbia in Oregon. P.O.; campground; Trail Angel (Jules-The Ale House); brewery; re-supply…and right on the PCT!

      Reply
  • Lina : May 18th

    OMG!! Thank you so much for all this information!!! This is the best post and big help to my planning 😀 😀 😀

    Reply
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