Triple-Digit Temps Forecast for PCT This Weekend Amid Dangerous Heatwave

The National Weather Service (NWS) is warning of a “record-breaking and dangerous heatwave” forecast to slam the Pacific Northwest starting this weekend. “All-time June monthly records could also be broken in some locations in the Pacific Northwest,” the NWS said. Triple-digit temperatures are anticipated in northern California, Oregon, and Washington, including many parts of the PCT, during the heatwave.

Hikers should prepare for extreme heat.  Note that the NWS has issued excessive heat warnings and watches throughout the area from Saturday morning to Monday night. Temperatures in many trail towns will be over 100 degrees, in most cases 20-40 degrees warmer than the monthly average for June.

This weekend’s high temperatures come on the heels of another heatwave that scorched the southwest and southern California, resulting in the death of one hiker on the PCT near Paradise Valley Cafe.

Most PCT thru-hikers are well past southern California by this time of year and avoided that heatwave. In contrast, early starters, fast thru-hikers, and SOBOs are likely to bear the brunt of scorching temperatures forecast for this weekend through early next week. (Click here to skip to our advice for managing extreme heat while thru-hiking.) Here’s what to expect.

PCT Trail Towns That Will Be Affected By the Heatwave

Note that this isn’t a comprehensive list of affected towns and that forecasts may change. The PCT is often higher in elevation than population centers and may be somewhat cooler than the temperatures listed below. All mileages are based on Guthook Guides.

Mt. Shasta, CA | Mile 1500

  • Sunday High: 104
  • Monday High: 100
  • Average High for June: 78

Etna, CA | Mile 1599

  • Sunday High: 105
  • Monday High: 103
  • Average High for June: 82

pct heatwave

Seiad Valley, CA | Mile 1656

  • Sunday High: 111
  • Monday High: 106
  • Average High for June: 85

Ashland, OR | Mile 1719

  • Sunday High: 110
  • Monday High: 105
  • Average High for June: 78

Crater Lake, OR | Mile 1821

  • Sunday High:89
  • Monday High:90
  • Average High for June: 59

Bend, OR | Mile 1984

  • Sunday High: 104
  • Monday High: 106
  • Average High for June: 73

Timberline Lodge, OR | Mile 2097

  • Sunday High: 88
  • Monday High: 91
  • Average High for June: 51

Cascade Locks, OR | Mile 2147

  • Sunday High: 110
  • Monday High: 110
  • Average High for June: 73

Stevenson, WA | Mile 2148

  • Sunday High: 108
  • Monday High: 109
  • Average High for June: 73

Trout Lake, WA | Mile 2229

  • Sunday High: 104
  • Monday High: 107
  • Average High for June: 74

Packwood, WA* | Mile 2295

  • Sunday High: 106
  • Monday High: 109
  • Average High for June: 71

Snoqualmie Pass, WA | Mile 2394

  • Sunday High: 98
  • Monday High: 102
  • Average High for June: 61

Skykomish, WA* | Mile 2465

  • Sunday High: 104
  • Monday High: 107
  • Average High for June: 69

Stehekin, WA* | Mile 2572

  • Sunday High: 102
  • Monday High: 106
  • Average High for June: 76

Mazama, WA* | Mile 2592

  • Sunday High: 89
  • Monday High: 91
  • Average High for June: 75

*These towns are currently under an Excessive Heat Watch from Saturday morning to Monday night. All other towns on the list are under an Excessive Heat Warning during that time. An excessive heat warning means extreme high temperatures are expected to occur. “If you don’t take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die,” according to the NWS. An excessive heat watch means a high likelihood of extreme heat in the area, but its occurrence and timing are still uncertain.

How to Manage Extreme Heat While Thru-Hiking

PCT hikers who have made it as far as the Pacific Northwest are no strangers to heat. They survived 700 miles of it in the southern California desert before getting a reprieve in the Sierra, only to hike back into lower elevations and hotter terrain in NorCal. Even so, all hikers should be extremely cautious of this weekend’s heat. Many trail towns are forecast to exceed monthly average temperatures by 30 or 40 degrees. Here are some ways you can manage the heat.

pct heatwave

Wear Proper Clothing

Loose-fitting, breathable, light-colored clothing is a must. Use a wide-brimmed hat or umbrella to shade the back of your neck (this is particularly critical to prevent overheating). Wear sunscreen or UPF fabric to avoid sunburns, which can also impair your body’s cooling ability.

Avoid alcohol.

A cold beer on a hot day might sound refreshing, but it’s probably best to stick with Gatorade during extreme heat. Alcohol can lead to dehydration and impair your ability to cool down. You should also avoid drinking too much caffeine.

Avoid hiking through the midday heat.

Hike (very) early in the morning or late in the evening, when temperatures are cooler. Find a shady place to take shelter from midmorning through late afternoon, when temperatures are highest. Many people hike early in the morning, take a midday siesta, and hike again in the evening. You could also walk through the night and aim to make camp by nine or 10 a.m. if you prefer to get all your miles done in one fell swoop.

Drink lots of water.

Drink early and often, starting well before you leave camp on a hot day. One liter per hour of activity is a good rule of thumb in extreme heat. It’s also essential to replenish your electrolytes with salty snacks and drink mixes like Nuun or Propel.

If you come to a reliable, flowing water source, take the opportunity to drench yourself—especially your head, armpits, and groin. Soak your hat or buff (downstream of where people are filtering) before you head back out. Do this even if you don’t feel hot yet—the more you can stay ahead of things and keep yourself from overheating in the first place, the better.

Consider taking a zero day.

We thru-hikers are often told to “embrace the suck,” but in this case, the “suck” could kill you. So don’t be a hero: if you have an opportunity to sit this one out in an air-conditioned hostel while powering down Ben & Jerry’s, why not?

Don’t hike alone.

If you overheat and go into heatstroke, you may become too weak and delirious to help yourself. Even if you usually fly solo, it’s a good idea to partner up with someone for the next few days until the extreme heat passes.

Know the early warning signs of heat illness.

Stop and rest if your urine is dark in color, your head is throbbing, or you’re feeling dizzy or tired. Hydrate up.

Heat Illness: Symptoms and First Aid

pct heatwave

Ed. Note: We are hikers, not doctors. This advice is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. 

Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can bring on heat-related illnesses, the most severe of which is heatstroke. Milder heat-related conditions, such as heat cramps, can compound if not addressed and bring on heatstroke, which can be fatal, so it’s essential to know the symptoms and how to respond.

Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

Heat exhaustion results from overheating and dehydration. It’s often a precursor to heatstroke (a life-threatening condition), so it’s essential to catch it quickly. There are a few key differences in the symptoms and treatment of the two conditions. If you’re in doubt, call for help.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Cool, clammy skin: In contrast to heatstroke, where sufferers are often hot to the touch and may be either moist or dry.
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Alert: In contrast to heatstroke, in which sufferers are often in an altered mental state.

First aid: Lie down in a shaded area and loosen or remove clothing if you or your hiking partner experience any of these symptoms. Elevate your legs and feet slightly. If you can’t find natural shade in the area, set up a tarp or rainfly. Rest, hydrate, and replenish your electrolytes.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Altered mental state: Confusion, slurred speech, agitation, irritability, delirium, seizures, etc. In contrast to heat exhaustion, where the sufferer usually is lucid.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Red, flushed skin
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Racing pulse/elevated heart rate
  • Headache
  • Hot to the touch: Skin may feel hot and either dry or clammy to the touch, in contrast to heat exhaustion, where the sufferer feels cool.
  • Elevated body temperature: Internal temperature at or above 104°F, in contrast to heat exhaustion, where the sufferer is normal temperature or only slightly warm.

First aid: Heatstroke is life-threatening. If you suspect that someone in your party is suffering from heatstroke, you should contact emergency services immediately and request evacuation. Get the affected person to a cool, shaded area to rest (again, set up a tarp if no natural shade is available). Loosen tight clothing, remove excess layers, dump water on them, and fan them to cool them down.

If you’re planning to be on the PCT this weekend during the heatwave, please stay safe and use your best judgment. Spread the word among fellow hikers so all can plan ahead and be prepared.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?