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:
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.
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.
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