PCTA Asks Hikers not to Attempt a Pacific Crest Trail SOBO Thru-Hike

The Pacific Crest Trail Association is asking hikers not to attempt a SOBO thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail by starting at the Canadian border.

The guidelines, posted in a statement on the PCTA website on June 4, follow an earlier recommendation that hikers not attempt a NOBO thru-hike. Hikers are advised to stay local, attempt single-day hikes or horseback rides, and attempt only multiday hikes that do not require resupply.

“As the June 15 start of southbound PCT long-distance travel approaches, we urge you to avoid long-distance travel starting at the Canadian border,” the PCTA said. “Harts Pass Campground is not open (and no opening date has been set) and most facilities will be closed.

“California, Oregon and Washington continue moving forward with reopening,” the statement said. “But COVID-19 case numbers remain high and are trending upward in some areas—while in others, hot spots are moving from urban centers to more rural regions. In consideration of this, our previous guidance for the PCT remains the same.”

“You can help limit the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding communities other than your own,” the PCTA continued. “Being completely self-supported on PCT outings is key: if you bring everything you need, don’t stop anywhere traveling to and from the trail, and avoid side trips from the trail to resupply, you limit transmission of the virus between you and others.”

“If you are a trail angel (or aspire to be) please remember that COVID case numbers are still significant in many counties along the PCT and exposure to anyone outside your household is a risk. We urge you to avoid providing trail magic in-person to minimize your exposure (and please don’t leave food and beverages unattended along the trail).”

For more details, read the PCTA’s Guidance for Visiting the Pacific Crest Trail during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected this year’s long-distance hiking season on the Pacific Crest Trail,” said Chris Furr, district ranger for the Methow Valley Ranger District of the  Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. “And while there are signs of improvement, we still recommend that PCT users avoid long-distance travel on the trail in Washington—particularly southbound thru-hikes from the Canadian border. The risk of infection in remote communities is still considerable, and COVID-related closures have reduced our ability to prepare campgrounds and facilities, many of which are still closed. Thank you for keeping your travel local and self-sufficient.

For the latest information regarding permits, check the PCTA’s permits page.

Featured image courtesy Lisa Pulsifer

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Comments 17

  • Philip : Jun 5th

    At this point, the risk of hikers spreading the flu by hiking the trail is probably one of the lowest concerns. It’s summer, and there are plenty of people driving into these same areas for vacations. This has been going on for months now, and the people in these areas are also on the move and doing their own re-supplying. This whole mass quarantine theory has played itself out. If the PCTA wants to keep people off the trail for some other reason, then just say so and be honest about it.

    • Kathleen Fias : Jun 5th

      Philip. The Covid 19 virus is not the flu. It’s spread is unaffected by the season (as in seasonal flu). Permanent lung damage doesn’t work well for hikers. You might want to educate yourself before you make your statements and choices. Everyone wishes it wasn’t here, but it’s real. The writer of the article is hoping people will listen to good advice, be well-informed and be responsible.

      • Philip : Jun 5th

        I used the “flu” word loosely: there’s enough similarity to warrant the comparison. In any event, the main point is the same: the relatively small population of hikers is nothing compared to the amount of interaction already occurring with regular seasonal movement. That doesn’t mean people should throw away caution. Just carry on with reasonable precautions, the type of precautions exercised to avoid other respiratory illnesses. There has been plenty of theories about covid and how it spreads, and much of it has turned out to be false or nuanced. Let’s look at empirical evidence: many states have already been open, with tourism, with people walking the beaches, etc….and the they’re doing about as well (or better) than those locked down. Of course, people will debate. That’s fine. If somebody wants to continue to quarantine, then do so. If somebody wants to hike, then hike on. Just pick up after yourself.

      • J Brown : Jun 6th

        Flu isn’t affected by the seasons either; we are. The reason fewer people fall ill in the summer is because they get out more and are able to produce vitamin D. With that in mind, hiking the PCT is actually an excellent treatment for a lot of viral illnesses. You can make your own assessment and decision on hiking the PCT, and so can everyone else. You don’t get to make that call for other people.

    • Kimberlee R Sheets : Jun 5th

      As a hiker in 1969- 70 , there is no better way to get the heck out of Dodge and enjoy the air and land . You cannot keep wearing a mask and eliminate all the good and bad Bacteria without reaping some bad consequences, like Fungus of the Lungs . No I’m not a Doctor but please use good Cense and remember you are in charge of you !
      Hike safely and happy , Ok ?

  • NO61 : Jun 5th

    The PCTA can not stop anyone from hiking the trail. The big dirty little secret is that the PCTA does not have the power to stop anyone from hiking the trail. The PCTA is always misleading hikers into thinking they must have a PCTA permit to hike. A permit station is at all the trailheads and local ranger stations, all BLM lands are free to hike without a permit. The main benefit of getting a PCT permit to help stop the need to fill out a trail permit along all the trails many sections.

  • Kimberly Adigwe : Jun 5th

    I can’t think of a better way to social distance than through hiking the PCT. The thousands of rioters are the problem. They are the ones spreading the virus and I don’t see anyone trying to stop them. If they can can violate every social distancing rule in the books, I can hike the PCT.

    • Kathleen Trapp : Jun 6th

      Took the words right out of my.mouth!!!

  • JW : Jun 5th

    Hiking PCT will only benefit mental health. If the “Lords” in CA say it’s okay to dine Al fresco and I can shop at a packed CVS, then hiking is the least of my worries.

    Kids are all going back to camp and schools. The over hype of social distancing on the PCT is quite ridiculous. Common sense.

  • Sweetbird : Jun 5th

    Cautionary note: in 2014 I flew from my home in Alaska to do a section hike from Walker Pass to Bishop Pass. I made it to Kennedy Meadows and started to feel “off”, feverish, and coughing. Ended up hitching to Bishop where I collapsed on the couch at Hostel California. I was totally out of it and I later found out the crew there considered taking me to the ER. Suffice to say I did not complete the section that year, and the kind folks in Bishop let me recover at the hostel. I believe I brought this crud from Alaska to California, probably spreading it all over along the way. Covid19 is a deadly disease. Respect others and do your best to keep yourself and others safe no matter where you go.

    • P65 : Jun 9th

      So you knew you were sick, but decided to stay at a hostel. Well that was considerate.

  • Lance A Goehring : Jun 5th

    Unfortunately, Kathleen, listening to good advice, being well-informed, and being responsible are all foreign to most of these commenters. The selfishness and privilege are disgusting. Let’s just pick a few of the whoppers: comparing COVID to the flu, implying protesters are carriers of disease, “fungus of the lungs”.

    Any thru-hiker choosing to disregard all advice and continue to hike this season should be ashamed of themselves. My only hope is that these commenters are just trolls and not actual hikers.

    • J Brown : Jun 6th

      If you’re not worried about it being spread by protestors, then why are you worried about it being spread by hikers? The evidence keeps pointing to large groups being a point of outbreak, not a few individuals who spend much of their time dozens or hundreds of miles from towns.

    • James Gilmer : Jun 6th

      Why do you care? . hike,live, love,play,work,help others, celebrate. Or let COVID keep you out of my way.

    • herpinder derpinder : Jun 15th

      Shame on people! They should lock themselves in their house forever because its not safe to go outside, Karen says, as she types this on her filthy cellphone screen while waiting in line at a crowded Walmart to check out her shopping cart full of toilet paper.

  • Judith Knoll : Jun 6th

    The way I see it, having good health is a person’s most precious possession. While we can make decisions about our own, making other people sick while traveling is… well, self-centered. Most people understand this concept and adjust. Because COVID is a virulent infection, it is best to reserve our hike to spare others at this time.


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