The Pacific Crest trail is an approximately 2650 mile path that meanders through desert and mountain wilderness areas from the US-Mexico border at Campo, California to Manning Park, eight miles north of the US-Canada border. It spans three states and ten mountain rangers.
To compare it, the PCT is father than starting at Lisbon, Portugal and walking to Istanbul, Turkey, father than walking from the tip of Cape Town, SA to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, farther than walking from Mumbai, India, to Bangkok, Thailand,farther than walking from the beach in Lima, Peru, to beaches in Brazille. It’s far. Very far.
Of the hikers who attempt a thru hike of the PCT, (a thru hike usually means completing the entire trail within a calendar year). only about 25% are successful. Not only is it an incredible distance to cover, but it’s also quite difficult.
The elevation changes on the PCT are spectacular! According to The 2014 Halfmile Project, the estimated total elevation gain/lost for a northbound thru-hiker is 489,418 feet of climbing and 488,411 feet descending. That’s more than climbing all the way up to the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building, and descending all the way back down to Fifth Avenue… 718 times. It’s more than starting at sea level and climbing Mt. Everest… 17 times.
At 13,153 feet, Forester Point in the Sierra Nevada is the highest point on the trail. The lowest point is just a few feet above sea level at Cascade Locks, where the Columbia River separates Oregon and Washington.
Most hikers begin their thru hike in April and head northbound from Mexico. They usually arrive in Canada sometime between mid-August and mid-October. The minority start in June or July and head southbound from Canada to arrive in Mexico between mid-October and mid-December. According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, whether nobo or sobo, the average thru hiker spends about 155 days on the trail.
For ultra athletes, time spent on the trail is much shorter. On August 13, 2016, trail runner Karel Sabbe, a Belgium dentist, set the Pacific Crest Trail Supported Thru Hiking record at 52 days, 8 hours, and 25 minutes. To accomplish that amazing feat, he averaged 50.63 miles per day.
On August 7, 2013. Heather “Anish” Anderson of Bellingham, Washington set the Unsupported Thru Hiking record, completing the PCT in 60 days, 17 hours, 12 minutes. She averaged 43.65. miles per day. (Worth noting: On November 8th, 2018, “Anish” became the first woman to complete the Triple Crown — the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and Appalachian Trails [7,925 +/- miles] — in a single calendar year. She hiked all three trails in 251 days, 20 hours, 10 minutes, averaging 32 miles. Every. Single. Day.)