The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,661 mile trail that runs from the Mexico border past the Canada border, generally following the central ridgeline of the Cascade Mountain Range. The trail crosses the Columbia River into Washington State 2,147 trail-miles from the Mexico border. 505.5 miles of the trail are in Washington State, and another 9 miles in Canada.
The official PCTA sections are divided by paved highway access (with the exception of Highway 410, Chinook Pass, which runs through the middle of section I.)
Highway 20 (Rainy Pass) to Highway 3 (Manning Park, Canada)
Highway 2 (Stevens Pass)
Interstate 90 (Snoqualmie Pass)
Highway 12 (White Pass)
Highway 14 (Bridge of the Gods)
Here I have further subdivided the official sections, by the easiest road access, so each is no more than 80 miles. The exception here is Suiattle which is a hike-in, not a drive-in. These are just comparative summaries. For each section I have also written detailed trip notes. Access Points are at the south end of the section. The north end access point is listed in the section above. In some cases, I have rounded distances to the nearest whole mile.
Notice: The Canadian border is closed. Entry is not permitted. Backpackers must back-track to an exit in the US.
29.7 miles to the border, 8 miles or less in Canada depending on your route.
Highest point: 7,070 Devils Stairway
Northbound elevation gain: 6,050 ft. (204 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 8,339 ft. (281 fpm)
Access: NF-5400 via Mazama, off Highway 20, View on map
Highest point: 7,000 feet, Tatie Peak
Northbound elevation gain: 7,089 ft. (257 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 5,775 ft. (186 fpm)
Access: Off Highway 20. View on map
Highest point: Rainy Pass
Northbound elevation gain: 6,247 ft. (329 fpm) This is the highest avg gain per mile, but its consistent and gradual.
Southbound elevation gain: 2,960 ft. (156 fpm) This is the biggest difference between nobo and sobo.
Access: In front of the High Bridge Ranger Station View on map
(See the Resupply guide for more details on access from Stehekin.)
This is the only section on this list that requires a hike in
31 miles (plus a 6.5 miles hike in)
Highest point: 5,991 feet, Suiattle Pass
Elevation gain: 7,969 ft. northbound, 8,916 ft. southbound (PCT only)
Access: from the Suiattle River Trail, via Sulphur Creek, Suiattle River Road, off highway 530, View on map
Highest point: 6,514 feet, Red Pass
Northbound elevation gain: 16,444 ft. (214 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 18,094 ft. (235 fpm)
Note, Although these are not the highest fpm averages, this is generally considered to be the most challenging section in the state. The Milk Creek valley may be the steepest climb on the PCT in WA.
Access: Off Highway 2, View on map
Highest point: 5,930 feet, below Chickamin Peak (#2 is Pieper Pass 5,888 ft.)
Northbound elevation gain: 22,199 ft. (313 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 21,170 ft. (298 fpm)
Access: Off Interstate 90, View on map
Highest point: 5,638 feet, Blowout Mountain
Northbound elevation gain: 10,472 ft. (238 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 12,201 ft. (277 fpm)
Access: Mike Urich Cabin View on map
Highest point: 6,521 feet Scout Pass near Norse Peak
Northbound elevation gain: 3,799 ft. (165 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 4,406 ft. (192 fpm)
Access: Highway 410, View on map
Highest point: 5,864 feet, Naches Peak
Northbound elevation gain: 4,199 ft. (145 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 3,232 ft. (111 fpm) *** This is the lowest avg elevation gain of any section.
Access: off Highway 12, View on map
Highest point: 7,200 feet, Old Snow Mountain
Northbound elevation gain: 9,421 ft. (230 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 9,449 ft. (230 fpm)
Access: A long road out of Packwood, Midway Loop Road View on map
Highest point: 6,143 feet
Northbound elevation gain: 4,059 ft. (169 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 3,480 ft. (145 fpm)
Access: Williams Mine Trailhead off FR-23 View on map
Highest point: 5,204 feet
Northbound elevation gain: 8,586 ft. (179 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 5,732 ft. (119 fpm)
Access: Panther Creek Campground on FR-65 off Wind River Road View on map
Highest point: 3,477 feet
Northbound elevation gain: 6,801 ft. (194 fpm)
Southbound elevation gain: 5,938 ft. (170 fpm)
Access: A small parking lot on the north end of the Bridge of the Gods off Highway 14 View on map