The trail, which runs from the Mexican border to Canada, crossing the entire west coast, is perfect for ecotourism lovers and those looking for adventure in the United States.

One of the most challenging trails in the world, it is also a route full of the most varied landscapes and a great option for ecotourism lovers and adventure seekers in the United States. I'm talking about Pacific Crest Trail, a 4,200-kilometer trail that starts at the US-Mexico border, runs along the entire American West Coast and ends in Canada.

Anyone who has seen the movie “Free” (2014, starring Reese Witherspoon) or read the book by American author Cheryl Strayed has some idea of what the Pacific Crest Trail offers. However, only more experienced adventurers dare to go through it completely. Just to get an idea, it takes at least three months to complete the entire route, between deserts, mountain ranges and forests.

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But don't be discouraged if you don't have much experience in the subject, since it is possible to choose sections to go through, whether on a day or weekend trekking, for example. In fact, it is more common to find backpackers who are only doing part of this trail in the USA than those who risk going all the way.

What to Expect on the Pacific Crest Trail

pacific crest trail united states

Photo: Disclosure

The coolest thing is that the Pacific Crest Trail has the most varied scenarios: mountains, deserts, dense forests, lakes and volcanoes are among the landscapes you can contemplate while trekking.

The trail runs through the states of California, Oregon and Washington, usually in environments far away from cities. In addition, it passes through more than 25 forests and 7 national parks, including Sequoia National Park and Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite.

Briefly, the path starts in a desert area of Southern California, then enters the mountainous area of Sierra Nevada, with high altitudes and possibility of a lot of snow, becomes greener in the forests of Oregon and again fills with mountains in Washington, on the final stretch, near Canada. Check out the full trail map here.

With all this diversity of scenarios and places, there is also the variation in altitude – one of the main challenges of this trail – which, consequently, means changes in climate, soil, humidity and atmospheric pressure. For example, while the stretch on the Washington-Oregon border is at sea level, the highest peak along the way, Forester Pass, is 4,009 meters above sea level, in Sierra Nevada, California.

Sierra Nevada, in turn, is one of the most challenging, but most beautiful and famous sections of the route. Another highlight is the beautiful Crater Lake, a huge lake of turquoise waters, formed more than seven thousand years ago as a result of the eruption of the volcano. Mount Mazama.

When is the best time to hike the Pacific Crest Trail

pacific crest trail united states

Photo: Bob Wick / BLM

As the seasons in the United States are much more defined than here in Brazil, it is necessary to choose well when to start trekking along the Pacific Crest Trail. Another factor that must be taken into account is the fact that we are talking about a long-distance trail, which can be covered in a minimum period of three months.

With that in mind, the best time to do the PCT – especially if you are going to complete the entire route – is in winter (December to March) or spring (March to June) through the California stretch. With that, you will avoid the excessive heat of the summer in that part of the USA and will not risk facing the low temperatures of the winter in Washington - which usually has minimums of 2.7ºC.

More about this US adventure option 

pacific crest trail united states

Photo: Disclosure

If you decide to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, you need to be aware of some important aspects of this trail in the USA. It is managed by Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) which, in addition to having volunteers who take care of the area, has information about the stretches and how to go through them.

The trail was born from an idea by oil entrepreneur Clinton Churchill Clarke, who has always been passionate about trekking. The project was conceived by him in 1932, but it was only made official by the American government, through the National Trails System Act, in 1968. As Clarke died in 1957, he did not see his dream come true, but to this day he is recognized as the " Father of the Pacific Crest Trail” (Father of the Pacific Crest Trail).

PCT gained more fame from the success of the book and movie Livre, which tell the experience of author Cheryl Strade on the long trail. However, the complete itinerary is not suitable for beginners or those with no mountaineering experience. But, as we said at the beginning of this post, it is possible to go through small snippets.

Concern for the environment

The concern with the conservation of the area is one of the banners of the PCTA, which guides the hikers to bury the feces and carry the toilet paper back, camp in demarcated areas, protect the water quality, avoiding washing clothes and utensils in the streams, and respect other hikers and inhabitants of the cities that the trail crosses.

It is worth mentioning the special attention when making bonfires. The PCTA's advice is that they are not made to avoid fire hazards. However, the practice is not prohibited. And if you plan on doing so, you should watch explanatory videos on the correct way to build a fire and answer a series of questions in order to obtain authorization for the use of fire in the state of California.

When going through the Pacific Crest Trail, you will pass through 7 national parks – which, by the way, are areas of environmental protection – and 25 preserved forests. Therefore, it is very important to respect all the conservation rules of the PCTA, in order not to interfere in any way with the balance of flora and fauna.

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