Pacific Northwest Trail

Pacific Northwest Trail map
The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.


The Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) travels 1,200 miles through Montana, Idaho, and Washington from near the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park to the Pacific Ocean on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. About 63 miles of the trail passes through North Cascades National Park Service Complex, which includes both the National Park and Ross Lake National Recreation Area.

PNT travelers fall into one of three categories:

  • "Thru-hikers" is the term for those traveling the entire 1,200 mile length of the PNT in continuous, single year trip.
  • "Long distance hikers" are those traveling more than 500 continuous miles along the trail in a single trip.
  • "Section hikers" includes everyone traveling less than 500 miles in a single trip or doing more than one hiking trip on the PNT in a year.

Frequently Asked Questions

What permit(s) do I need to travel on the PNT through North Cascades National Park or Ross Lake National Recreation Area?

All overnight camping within North Cascades National Park and Ross Lake National Recreation Area requires a backcountry permit issued by the Park.

Where, and how, can I get a backcountry permit?

There are several methods for PNT hikers to obtain a valid backcountry permit.

  1. Section hikers should obtain a permit from the permit station closest to the start of their section hike. For eastbound section hikers, the most likely permit station is the Glacier Public Service Center. Westbound section hikers should get their permit from the Wilderness Information Center at the Marblemount Ranger Station or the Methow Valley Ranger Station of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Winthrop, WA.

  2. Westbound thru-hikers re-supplying in Oroville, WA, can call the National Park Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount (360.854.7245) to obtain a permit for entering the National Park from the Pasayten Wilderness.

  3. Westbound thru-hikers re-supplying at Ross Lake Resort can call the same number to obtain a permit for areas west of Ross Lake.

  4. Eastbound thru-hikers re-supplying in Sedro-Woolley, WA, can obtain a permit at the Park and Forest Information Center in Sedro-Woolley, a few blocks form the Sedro-Woolley post office.

  5. Eastbound thru-hikers who are not re-supplying in Sedro-Woolley can obtain a permit at the Glacier Public Service Center or by calling the National Park Wilderness Information Center (360.854.7245).

    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 PNT 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 94% of the National Park Complex 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 PNT corridor is among 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 PNT hikers camp without a Park permit or at camps that they are not permitted for, 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.

Where can I learn more about the Pacific Northwest Trail?

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

Last updated: October 4, 2017

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810 State Route 20
Sedro-Woolley , WA 98284


360 854-7200

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