What You Need To Know If Planning a PCT long Distance Hike 2023.
If you’re hoping to apply for a permit on the day of the first release, you need to register anytime between October 12 at 10:30 AM Pacific Time and November 1 at 5 PM Pacific Time at permit.pcta.org. Unfortunately, you can only apply on the release date if you register ahead of time.
Likewise, if you’re hoping to apply on the day of the second release, you’ll register before January 5 at 5 PM Pacific Time.
When registering, you’ll be prompted to confirm your phone number and email address, then enter your remaining contact information and date of birth.
Registering doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a permit, but it’s the first step on the journey.
PCT Long-distance Permits
Suppose you plan on hiking or horseback riding 500 or more miles along the PCT in a single, continuous trip. In that case, the Pacific Crest Trail Association can issue you an interagency PCT Long-distance Permit.
A PCT Long-distance Permit allows you to travel and camp along the PCT in the many places along the trail that require permits. This can be much more convenient for long trips than getting permits one by one from each site that requires them.
The Long-distance Permit is free. But there are other permits you may need.
Other permits you may need
- The California Fire Permit – it doesn’t give you permission to have a campfire. You’ll still only be able to have campfires if and when they’re allowed. But the permit is required in most of California to cook on a camp stove. Oregon and Washington don’t require fire permits.
- Please also fill out permits in Oregon and Washington when you pass by a permit box. This helps us understand how many people are using an area, which in turn, helps us better protect this fragile trail.
- If you’re entering Canada via the PCT, you’ll need a Canada PCT Entry Permit. Note: For 2023, please check the status of the Canadian border for any pandemic-related border closures.
You’re likely to visit places that require extra permits and fees. This permit does not cover campgrounds, park entrances, and other special-use fees. Please pay the collecting agency directly.
New this year: it’s easier to apply for a permit on the same day as someone else
It’s easier than ever to get a permit for the same day as your hiking or horseback riding partner! After each person registers, you will be able to link yourselves together so that one person enters the queue and submits applications for both of you simultaneously. This will ensure that your applications are both submitted for the same itinerary.
Application dates for 2023 PCT Long-distance Permits
Remember, you must register ahead of time to be able to apply for a permit on these release days.
Northbound trips starting south of Sonora Pass between March 1 and May 31, including northbound thru-hikes:
A limited number of permits are available for this kind of trip.
- These permits are released in two phases:
- On November 15 at 10:30 AM Pacific Time, 35 permits per day will be available.
- On January 10, 2023, at 10:30 AM Pacific Time, the remaining 15 permits per day will be available.
All other trips, including southbound thru-hikes:
A limited number of permits are available for some of these trips, such as those starting at or near the Canadian border.
- Permits will be available on January 10, 2023, at 10:30 AM Pacific Time.
Have you read the long-distance permit page? It’s full of important information.
Need help figuring out when or where to start? First, read our page about PCT Long-distance Permits. Then, learn about when to hike the PCT. Finally, choose a start date that meets your level of experience and ability; many people who start too early or too late run into challenges beyond their skill level. Even though a permit is available, conditions are still favorable for some skill levels. Remember, the PCT Long-distance Permit requires that you start on the date and at the location that is listed on your permit. This term is in place to protect the PCT experience and environment for everyone.
These permits are free, and while applying, you can decide whether you want to make a donation to the trail.
Registering gives you the opportunity to apply on permit release day. Submitting a permit application secures your requested reservation date. Wait until your application is reviewed and approved before making travel arrangements.
What’s the best time to start the Pacific Crest Trail?
Most northbound thru-hikers start the PCT in mid-April through early May. Southbound hikers generally start in late June through early July. Many people want to start early. Beware. Snow covers sections of the trail in the spring and early summer. In Southern California, dangerous stretches blanket the trail within the first 200 miles of the border. If you head into the Sierra too early, you’ll face significant snow and stream-crossing obstacles. In Washington, steep, risky snow slopes turn PCT travel into mountaineering well into early July. Learn more about when to hike the PCT.
While you are waiting, this is a great time of year to learn about the trail
Please take a moment to check out our PCT-specific Leave No Trace information. It’s up to all of us to take care of the trail and the surrounding landscape. Your choices and behaviors can help protect the environment and ensure that the PCT provides a wild experience for all hikers and horseback riders for years to come.
After you’ve studied up about protecting this special place, keep learning about how to have a wonderful and safe time on the trail in our Backcountry Basics section.
Have a wonderful year on the trail!
ATTENTION PCT CLASS OF 2023! ⚠️ If you’re stressing about navigating the permitting process, nabbing your ideal start date, or syncing itineraries with hiking partners, this post is for you 👇
Register to apply for the first round of 2023 PCT Long-Distance Permits by November 1 and check out the articles in our bio, “𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝗧𝗼 𝗦𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗮 𝗣𝗖𝗧 𝗟𝗼𝗻𝗴-𝗗𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗶𝘁” and “𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟯 𝗣𝗖𝗧 𝗟𝗼𝗻𝗴-𝗗𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝗺𝗶𝘁 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻” at the links in our bio to make sure you’re prepared for November 15
Registration is open for PCT Long-distance permits until November 1!
Registering ahead of time, between October 12 and November 1, gives you the opportunity to apply on November 15, the first permit release day. It’s also easier to apply for a permit on the same day as someone else. Details at permit.pcta.org
After November 15, registration will open again before the January 12 permit release.
The Team at the PCT association loves talking to long-distance hikers and riders about their adventures, so feel free to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 916-285-1846 if you need advice!
Featured Image: Fin Dome towers over Dollar Lake, Kings Canyon National Park. Photo by Brandon Sharpe