The Pacific Crest Trail: An Unforgettable Journey

Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail

As spring rolls around, San Diegans are once again blessed with superb weather and countless outdoor opportunities. But if you’re feeling a little uninspired because it seems like you’ve seen and done it all in southern California, maybe it’s time you push yourself to do something a little more extraordinary and adventurous. Does the thought breaking away from civilization to experience the raw, scenic wonders of nature really get your blood pumping? Then maybe the Pacific Crest Trail is for you.

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is one of the country’s best-kept secret hikes. Spanning from Mexico to Canada, it crosses straight through California, Oregon and Washington—an epic 2,650 mile journey. The trail winds unbrokenly through beautiful desert terrain, snowcapped mountain ranges, open valleys and deep, uncultivated forest. It’s one of the most colorful and fascinating routes in all the United States.

Given the length of the trail, it takes most travelers the entire snow-free season to complete, roughly 5 months. Starting the trek in early spring ensures the best chances of crossing the mountainous regions during the warmer months, and gives travelers a rare glimpse of the most beautifully diverse landscape in the world at it's peak season.

One of the longest trails in the country, the PCT touches 25 national forests and 7 national parks. The majority of the route itself is void of development and is laid through national forest and protected wilderness. It passes through the Laguna, Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Tehachapi, Sierra Nevada, and Klamath mountain ranges in California, as well as the Cascade Range in California, Oregon, and Washington.

Countless hikers and adventurers travel the PCT each year. Some follow the trail a few miles, while others complete the entire journey in a single season. There are a number of junctures along the way that offer food, water, supplies, campgrounds and bedding, and of course, travelers from all over the world to converse with and share stories. This is part of what makes the PCT journey so unique and memorable.

Along the way, the trail is generally well marked, but because it’s meant as a wilderness trail, signage is kept to a minimum. This ensures a most genuine backwoods adventure, with few reminders of civilization. All major trail junctions and road crossings, however, are marked with a distinct PCT symbol. Hikers are wise to bring good, accurate maps and should have the ability to navigate through mild to rough wilderness areas. Staying with a group or with at least one other hiker is strongly recommended.

Whether you’re looking for a local weekend getaway, or an extended back country adventure, the Pacific Crest Trail offers one of the most unique, diverse and amazing experiences in the world. It’s the perfect place to get your mind off the bustles of work and city life, and get up close and personal with pure, unbridled nature.

The PCT’s southern California trailhead is located in Campo, about 25 miles east of downtown San Diego. 

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