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Pacific Crest Trail FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

We answer most questions in detail on our pct page, but I will try to summarize the common ones. Not in order of importance.

Where are the links to your PCT Section Hiker presentation?

The handout:

The text of the show:

The preshow video on books/apps

When do I start?

Weather governs. Typically you can enter the Sierras (Kennedy Meadows) about June 15th, and you should reach Canada by Sept 15. This schedule will require an ice axe, instep crampons and hiking poles for the Sierras. You can start in mid April and meet this schedule. It is possible to start in March, but each section has high areas where you may encounter snow and ice. Use of ice axe and crampons may be necessary if it is a heavy snow year. Permits are issued with a start date. In 2022 50 permits per day (between March 1 and May 31) were issued for departures from the southern border. Permitting is complex and varies for section hiking and thru hiking. See the PCTA website for more details.

What about water?

From Southern California to the Sierras, the undisputed source of information is founded by the late ASABAT - this is continually updated as the season progresses, so keep checking, even when on trail. The FarOut app (formerly called Guthook) has fairly current water info. After the Sierras rely on the guidebook, Yogi's handbook, trail angels, and other hikers. Be prepared to carry up to 2 gallons in some spots. More info on our pct page.

Shoes or boots?

The vast majority of pct hikers use running shoes. See our gear page for details.

Hiking Poles?

Again, a majority of pct hikers use poles, for power on uphill and stability on the downhill. The agreement on this is not as great as on running shoes.

Where can I get pot cozies

Make your own at:
or buy at:


Get your thru hiker permit from the PCTA if you are going 500 miles or more. The normal permit is all you need to just summit Whitney from the west side and return to the pct. to exit east over Whitney Portal you need a separate permit from the forest service. You also need a California fire permit which you can get by email Details on our pct page.


Resupply points are every 5 to 7 days. Yogi's handbook has fairly current info on what's available for purchase. Some people use a bounce box to forward town only items from resupply to resupply. More info on our pct page.

Entering Canada requirements

The PCTA association has a website that gets better and better. One issue is Canada's entry requirements, so check the Canada Permit. Send in the Canada application asap, but no sooner than 3 months before the start of your trip. You can both submit the permit request and received the approved permit by email.

Horses on the PCT

This is another thing that the PCTA covers well, so check the PCTA FAQs. A personal observation is that there are many places where the trail has a very narrow tread, and you need to walk your horse across. There are also spots were downed trees make the trail impassible for stock.

PCT Controversial Questions

Some questions always raise a storm on the pct-l, with strong opinions on both sides, and no agreement. The following questions are in that category:


Dogs are barred from the National Park sections of the pct. Most thru-hikers agree that it is a very exceptional dog that can cope with the hardships of the pct. Some do make it and seem in good spirits. Others are struggling to stay with their masters, even though they may die in the process.

Bear Canisters

They are required in most of the Sierras. Yes, you may get away without getting caught, either by a bear or a ranger, but chances are that a bear is going to get your food, and eventually get shot due to people not using canisters. More info on canisters on our gear page. Wild has the largest and lightest/meal hard sided container. They have special rental rates for PCT, JMT, etc. Call them for details: . We carry a couple of soft Ursacks for all areas of the PCT except the JMT part. The Ursack keeps mice, etc out, as well as less educated bears.


Guns were forbidden in the National Parks, but a Bush administration rule changed this in January 2009, allowing concealed weapons to be carried with a permit issued by the state containing the national park, and if that state allows concealed weapons in the state parks. California does not, but Oregon and Washington do.. I'm a lot more concerned about being around someone with a gun in his pack than I am about any wild animal or dangerous human I may encounter, and I think my opinion is shared by most pct hikers.

Poison Oak - what it looks like:

I've been thinking about putting a page together on this for several years. Fortunately, I've procrastinated so long that Diane of  has done it for me:

Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67.  She last hiked it at the age of 76.

Page Changed: February 1, 2020 16:20

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