How to Apply for a 2018 PCT Permit
You had a recent epiphany. Some may call it a life crisis, but we get you—we’ll call it an epiphany. You want to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Class of 2018. As in, a few short months from now.
Maybe it’s the promise of a new year that’s given you the itch. Maybe it was an overabundance of family time over the holidays. Maybe it’s been sitting on your bucket list for years. No matter. You want to do it. And we will fully support you every mile.
While veteran hikers and Type A overachievers everywhere may be cringing at your last-minute decision, you’re actually in luck—you can still apply for a permit in January!
Applying for a PCT long-distance permit will be the easiest steps you’ll take on your entire trek.
Research when to go
Real talk—all the best dates are likely taken by now. But that doesn’t mean you can pick any date at random. Go too early, and you’ll be sidelined by snow in the Sierra. Too late, and you won’t make it out of Southern California without roasting.
Save the date
January 17th. 10:30 a.m. Pacific. An additional 15 permits per day will be released. Which means you still have a chance at some of the most optimal dates! Southbound (SOBO) hikers can also apply for their permits on the 17th.
Apply for a permit
It’s long-distance permit time! Come to your computer prepared with some dates you’d like to start hiking the PCT and at least half an hour. Once you start the process and select a date, you’ll have 13 minutes to complete the application with your date locked in. Once completed, you’ll get a confirmation email that your permit is being reviewed, and you should be able to access your permit within 1-3 weeks.
Apply for other permits
You’re not quite done yet! While the PCT long-distance permit is most important, here are the other permits you’ll need to obtain before your thru-hike.
- California Fire Permit—This permit allows you to use your camp stove throughout all of California. It doesn’t allow you to have a campfire just anywhere, however—you still need to look up where, when, and if campfires are allowed.
- North Cascades National Park Permit—The PCT is one of the busiest corridors in North Cascades National Park, so permits help hikers spread out to have an optimal experience without impacting the land. However, you can also walk the 17 miles through the park, therefore not needing a permit.
- Canada PCT Entry Permit—This one’s simple—if you enter Canada without a permit, you face imprisonment, deportation, and a lifetime ban from Canada. And you don’t want to walk all the way to the border without getting to complete the hike.
- As you’re walking in Washington and Oregon, you’ll come across permit boxes. Fill one out to help rangers track the amount of hikers on the trails.
For more information about the permits and the PCT, be sure to visit PCTA.org.