You Can Get a PCT Permit This Year After All

The Pacific Crest Trail Association and US Forest Service finally announced yesterday they will issue permits for thru-hiking the PCT this year, in the same numbers as last year. There was some debate about whether the permits would, or should be issued, in the wake of the pandemic.

From the PCTA announcement:

• As public health concerns may change rapidly, permit holders are reminded to follow all local, state and federal COVID-related travel and safety guidelines.
• Northbound permits for trips starting anywhere from the PCT Southern Terminus at the Mexican border to Sonora Pass will be issued at normal levels of 50 permits per day from March 1 through May 31.
• Southbound permits for trips starting from the Northern Terminus will be issued at normal levels of 15 per day from June 15 through September 15.

The USDA Forest Service also authorizes the PCTA to issue:

• 1400 permits for section hikers crossing the John Muir Trail overlap and
• 600 permits for trips starting in the Southern Sierra.

Interested hikers can apply for a permit online beginning Jan. 19, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time.

The announcement addresses the raging pandemic too:

Despite permits being issued at normal levels, these are not normal times, and this will not be a normal year to go for a long trip. Well over 300,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States. We don’t take this lightly. A new, more contagious variant of the virus has been found in Southern California and could potentially drive case numbers upward.


If you are not prepared to change your behavior to lower the risk to yourself and those around you, this is not the time for a long-distance trip on the PCT. Please postpone your trip.

Photo: Dan Meyers

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