A Guide to Hiking the Pacific Crest

Pacific Crest Hiking Guide: Trail Maps and Permits

You definitely need a map for the Pacific Crest Trail, as it's not blazed like its sister, the Appalachian Trail. It's also full of confusing junctions, and sometimes snow can obliterate the path. Luckily, Pacific Crest Trail guides are available online and at major bookstores. In fact, the Pacific Crest Trail Association has an online bookstore on its site with all the maps you'd need. Digitized map data is also available on the PCT Forest Service Web site for use in Google Earth and other mapping programs. It's good to carry a compass, too (and know how to use it) [sources: Hanson, Pacific Coast Trail].

Depending on where you'll be hiking along the trail, various permits are needed. For example, permits are required for all wilderness areas, national parks and other restricted areas along the trail. You can snag these permits at your point of origination. If you'll be hiking 500 miles (804.6 kilometers) or more, you can get a long-distance permit from the PCTA. Good for overnight use along the trail, the free permits cover the entire trip. There are also fire permits, Mount Whitney Zone permits and permits to enter Canada that may pertain to your trip [source: Pacific Coast Trail].