Pacific Crest Trail

North Fork Bridge Creek
North Fork of Bridge Creek as seen from the Pacific Crest Trail. K Doering
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) travels from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington and is open to hikers and stock groups. About 18 miles of the trail passes through the South Unit of North Cascades National Park. PCT travelers fall into one of three categories:
  • "Thru-hikers" (or -riders) is the term for those traveling the entire 2,650 mile length of the PCT in continuous, single year trip.

  • "Long distance hikers" (or riders) are those traveling more than 500 continuous miles along the trail in a single trip.

  • "Section hikers" (or riders) includes everyone traveling less than 500 miles in a single trip or doing more than one hiking trip on the PCT in a year.

Frequently Asked Questions
What permit(s) do I need to travel on the PCT through North Cascades National Park?

All overnight camping within North Cascades National Park requires a backcountry permit issued by the Park. A "Long distance permit" issued by the Pacific Crest Trail Association for thru-hikers and long distance hikers is not valid for camping within the Park.
Where, and how, can I get a North Cascades National Park backcountry permit?
There are several easy methods for PCT hikers to obtain a valid Park backcountry camping permit.
  1. Northbound hikers who are re-supplying in Stehekin can obtain a Park backcountry permit at the Golden West Visitor Center near the Stehekin Post Office.
  2. Southbound hikers can get a Park permit from one of two possible permit issuing stations that they would pass on the way to their trailhead: either the North Cascades National Park Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount, WA or the Methow Valley Ranger Station of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Winthrop, WA.
  3. Northbound hikers who are not re-supplying in Stehekin can get a Park permit by making a phone call from Stevens Pass to the North Cascades National Park Wilderness Information Center (360.854.7245) in order to secure a backcountry permit.
NOTE: Many hikers pass through the 18 miles of the PCT within the Park without spending the night. If hikers are not spending the night at any camp, a Park permit is not necessary.

NOTE: Obtaining a permit via phone is an option for thru-hikers only because they do not have the option to drive to a permit station.
North Cascades National Park Boundary
PCT maps are available from many different sources, this one was created by Halfmile and shows the North Cascades National Park boundary.
Camping along the PCT within North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park Service Complex is one of the premier "wilderness parks" in the lower-48 states, created in 1968 in the aftermath of the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Our permit system is designed to disperse visitors along the trail corridors in order to meet our management goal of protecting wilderness character in the 99% of the National Park that is designated wilderness. Camping is only allowed at designated sites (no dispersed camping), and permits are limited to the number of sites and site capacity of each backcountry camp.

Although the PCT corridor is one of the busiest in the park, the permit system helps distribute people throughout the corridor, to designated sites that are set off the main trail and away from each other, so that the experience for all hikers is one of solitude, with minimal impact to the corridor's wilderness resources. When PCT hikers camp without a Park permit, they impact other visitors who do have permits by over-filling camps and forcing groups to share camps when they were expecting a higher degree of solitude. This impacts visitors' experience negatively and has the potential to create user group conflicts and/or camping impacts and resource damage along the trail or camps.

Note: Many hikers pass through the 18 miles of the PCT within the Park without spending the night at any camp.

Where can I learn more about the Pacific Crest Trail?

The Pacific Crest Trail Association website is the central source for PCT information, including planning a PCT journey, trail conditions along the length of the trail, maps and guides, crossing the Canadian border, and volunteering to help maintain and manage the PCT.

Last updated: August 28, 2019

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810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284


(360) 854-7200

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