How Long Does It Take to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail?

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It takes the average thru hiker about five months to complete the entire 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, though according to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, some experienced hikers have managed to traverse the entire trail in less than 100 days. The trail runs through the Pacific states of Washington, Oregon and California, connecting Canada and Mexico with trailheads at each respective border.

Because much of the Pacific Crest Trail, or PCT, runs through snowy terrain that is hazardous during winter months, certain times of year are targeted as the appropriate time to start a complete traverse. Timing is especially important for thru hikers, which is the term used to describe individuals and groups who intend to hike the entire trail in one go without taking any extended leave from the trail system.

The exact departure date depends on the direction the hiker plans to take. Those who are heading northbound should start their trek in late April or early May in order to avoid extreme summer temperatures in Southern California and snow in the Sierra mountains, while those who are heading southbound should start in late June to avoid snow at high elevations in Washington State. Those who choose a standard departure time may want to make sure they are equipped for a variety of conditions nonetheless.