The Pacific Crest Trail stretches across 2650 miles from Mexico to Canada through the mountains of California, Oregon, and Washington. The Pacific Crest Trail, a two-volume guidebook by Jeffrey Schaffer, et al has come to be recognized as the definitive guide for anyone hiking the trail in whole or in part. The authors have divided the trail into 29 manageable sections that conveniently allow trailhead access for people only hiking a portion of the trail or resupply opportunities for long distance "through-hikers."
Volume 1 describes the PCT through California from the Mexican border to Interstate 5 near Siskiyou Pass in Oregon. The 18 trail sections are labelled A-R, from south to north. Volume 2 covers the trail through Oregon and Washington to Manning Park in British Columbia, Canada. The trail sections are labelled A-L from south to north. Because Volume 1's California Section R begins in California and ends in Oregon, it is relabelled as Oregon Section A in Volume 2.
Hiking the PCT in sections
If you don't have the time or inclination to do a six month through-hike of the PCT, enjoying the trail a section at a time is an attractive alternative. Most of the sections can be hiked comfortably in 1-2 weeks at a leisurely pace, and in the most favorable season for weather, beauty, and safety. Of course, if you plan to hike one section each summer, it will take nearly 30 years to complete the entire trail!
Just as through-hiking the PCT has its challenges, so does taking it a section at a time. Foremost among them is securing transportation to and from trailheads because one does not end up at the starting point after hiking a trail section. Your transportation options usually boil down to one of the following:
Option 1: Take Two Cars
You and a hiking partner drive two cars to your end point, leave one of the cars there and then drive together to the starting point. When you finish the section, use the end point car to pick up the starting point car and then drive home. A variation on this option is to find someone who is going along the same trail section at the same time, but in the opposite direction. After finishing, you can drive each other's cars to a prearranged meeting location to exchange them.
Option 2: Friends & Family
Your friends and/or family drop you off and pick you up. This option usually quickly loses its appeal to the friend or family after a single bone-jarring, hair-raising ride to some remote mountain location trailhead. Keep making new friends.
Option 3: Hitchhiking
Travelling this way can be slow, unreliable, and sometimes dangerous. It should not be ruled out as a transportation alternative, however. Hitchhiking in the Eastern Sierra is not uncommon and there are a lot of friendly people willing to give you a lift. Just be cautious and use common sense.
Option 4: Paid Rides
The most expensive transportation option, but safe and efficient. Paid rides can take the form of short taxi hops or chartered shuttles to remote trailheads. Outdoor sports shops, vacation resorts, packing stations, river rafting venues, and other commercial enterprises are all possibilities for securing a ride to or from a trailhead for a negotiated fee. If you stay at a nearby vacation resort, they will sometimes give you a shuttle ride for free.
Option 5: Public Transportation
A thrifty, environmentally friendly alternative, but much less time efficient and not always available at all locations. You can also combine options, such as taking the bus to a nearby town and then hitchhiking or taking a taxi to the trailhead.
If you have a resource or idea that has worked in the past, please contact me and I will post it here for the benefit of all. Don't forget that the Pacific Crest Trail Association is a great resource for finding hiking partners and possibly coordinating rides. Resource suggestions listed here are not endorsements or guarantees but hopefully will prove useful to planning your next section trip on the PCT. Enjoy!
|Section L: ||Manning Park, Canada|
|Greyhound runs several buses to and from Manning Park daily.
|Section K/L: ||Rainy Pass|
|Section J/K: ||Stevens Pass|
|Section I/J: ||Snoqualmie Pass|
|Section H/I: ||White Pass|
|Section G/H: ||Bridge of the Gods|
|Section F/G: ||Highway 35 at Barlow Pass|
|Section E/F: ||Highway 242 at McKenzie Pass|
|Section D/E: ||Highway 58 at Willamette Pass|
|Section C/D: ||Highway 138|
|Section B/C: ||Highway 140 near Fish Lake|
|Section A/B: ||I-5 at Siskiyou Pass|
|Section Q/R: ||Seiad Valley, CA|
|Section P/Q: ||Etna Summit|
|Section O/P: ||Castle Crags|
|Section N/O: ||Burney Falls|
|Section M/N: ||Beldon, CA|
|Section L/M: ||Sierra City, CA|
|Section K/L: ||I-80 at Donner Summit|
|Local buses do not go to the Donner Summit trailhead. Taxis can be called for a ride to Truckee or elsewhere. (Yellow Cab: 546-3181; Tahoe Truckee Taxi: 583-8294) During the summer, TART (Tahoe Area Regional Transit) buses run from Truckee to Tahoe City ($1.25) where you can transfer to the Tahoe Trolley bound for Emerald Bay. From there you can catch the Nifty 50 trolley ($3.00) to South Lake Tahoe.|
|Section J/K: ||Echo Lakes|
|The local buses do not service Echo Lakes. To get from Echo Lake Resort to South Lake Tahoe, you will have to hitchhike or call a cab. (Yellow Cab: 544-5555)|
|Section I/J: ||Sonora Pass|
|In 2000, two hikers secured a ride from Sonora Pass to Tuolumne Meadows from an employee at Kennedy Meadows Resort (where they were staying) for $100. A call to the resort in 2001 revealed that they do not officially offer this service.|
Kennedy Meadows Resort
P. O. Box 4010
Sonora, CA 95370
|Section H/I: ||Tuolumne Meadows|
|Getting to Tuolumne Meadows is relatively easy. Take the VIA bus from Merced, CA to Yosemite Valley and then the YARTS (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation) bus to Tuolumne Meadows.|
|Section G/H: ||Mt. Whitney|
|Section F/G: ||Walker Pass|
|Section E/F: ||Highway 58 at Tehachapi Pass|
|Section D/E: ||Agua Dulce, CA|
|Section C/D: ||I-15 at Cajon Canyon|
|Section B/C: ||San Gorgonio Pass|
|Section A/B: ||Warner Springs|
|Section A: ||Campo, CA|