PCTA Says Day Hikes, Backpacking Without Resupply Now OK on Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail Association issued new guidelines for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, supporting single-day hikes or horseback rides on the trail and longer, self-sufficient trips that don’t require resupply.

The updated guidelines are a change from the PCTA’s statement in March that all hikers should get off the PCT. While the PCTA is now permitting self-sufficient trips and day hikes, they advise all hikers to not take unnecessary risks, hike close to home, and avoid traveling far from home to access the PCT.

The US Forest Service, which oversees the PCT in California, Oregon, and Washington, also issued new guidelines on thru-hiking permits.

“Permits already issued remain valid as long as you are in compliance with the terms of the permit and all regulations and policies, including state and local stay-at-home orders,” the Forest Service said. “For your permit to be valid, you must start on the start date at the start location listed on your permit. From there, your permit is valid for a single continuous trip. If you do not meet the terms of your permit, your permit is not valid and cannot be used at all.”

The Forest Service said it hopes to address by the end of August whether canceled 2020 permits could be transferred to 2021. And permit application dates for 2021 could be announced in August.

The PCTA, which administers thru-hiking permits for the Forest Services, said it did not know when it would condone thru-hiking.

“We don’t know when it will be OK to travel long distances on the PCT again,” the organization said. “We’re closely monitoring the situation and heeding expert advice. At some point, we’ll welcome you back to the trail.”

The PCTA guidelines say:

Day hiking near home is OK. Backpacking trips that do not require resupply while hiking or while traveling to and from the trailhead are also OK. Long-distance travel to the PCT is discouraged.

While on trail, hikers are encouraged to maintain six feet of physical distance from others, and wear a mask when that is not possible. Hikers are also asked to avoid congregating at trailheads, scenic areas, parking lots, and picnic areas. Frequent hand washing away from water sources is also encouraged.

The PCTA is discouraging trail magic.

“We understand that providing hikers with food, rides, and places to sleep is a cherished part of the PCT experience but it’s still not reliably safe to be close to strangers. And remember it is never OK to leave food and beverages stashed beside the trail, which often becomes food for wildlife.”

Featured image courtesy Zach Davis







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