The Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) is a 1200-mile hiking trail running from the Continental Divide in Montana to the Pacific Ocean on Washington’s Olympic Coast. Along the way, the PNT crosses three national parks, seven national forests, two other national scenic trails, and against the grain of several mountain ranges, including the Continental Divide, Whitefish Divide, Purcells, Selkirks, Kettles, Cascades, and Olympics. The Pacific Northwest Trail was designated as the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail by Congress in 2009.
|Pacific Northwest Trail|
The Pacific Northwest Trail
|Length||1200 mi (1931 km)|
|Location||Montana / Idaho / Washington, United States|
|Designation||National Scenic Trail in 2009|
|Trailheads||Glacier National Park, MT|
Cape Alava, WA
|Highest point||Cathedral Pass, Washington|
|Lowest point||Pacific Ocean|
|Season||Year-round at lower elevations, summer and fall at higher elevations|
The route was first conceived by Ron Strickland in 1970. Between 1970 and 1976, extensive fieldwork was performed by Strickland and others, including early supporters along the PNT corridor who lent extensive knowledge of local trail systems to the effort. In that time, the Pacific Northwest Trail was cobbled together using preexisting trails and Forest Service roads.
In 1977, Strickland founded the Pacific Northwest Trail Association (PNTA), an organization responsible for education and information, maintenance, and advocacy for the PNT. That same year, the first five successful thru-hikes of the Pacific Northwest Trail were completed. Two of those hikers would later appear on the cover of Backpacker Magazine, in a 1979 issue which introduced the Pacific Northwest Trail to an international audience. Also in 1979, the first short guide for the PNT was published by Signpost Magazine, which would later become Washington Trails Association. The guide consisted of two pages that described the route, and came unaccompanied by maps.
In 1983, Ron Strickland would hike the entire length of the PNT alongside the PNTA's first cartographer, Ted Hitzroth. They used the information collected on their journey to develop the first full-length guidebook for the PNT, which was published in 1984.
Throughout the 80's and 90's, the trail gained in popularity. Regional volunteer groups emerged to help the PNTA maintain and improve the PNT in their areas, including SWITMO (Skagit Whatcom Island Trail Maintenance Organization) in the Puget Sound area, and the Yaak Trail Club, who helped select and maintain the route through northwest Montana's Yaak Valley.
In 2000, the Pacific Northwest Trail received its first federal designation, when the Clinton administration designated the trail as a Millennium Trail. More federal recognition would come in the following years. In 2002, the North Cascades National Park / Ross Lake National Recreation Area segment was designated a National Recreation Trail. The Olympic National Park segment received this designation in 2003, and the Glacier National Park segment received the same designation in 2005.
In 2008, Congressman Norm Dicks and Senator Maria Cantwell introduced Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail legislation to Congress. The marked up version of the legislation for the designation passed the full Natural Resource Committee of the US Senate on September 11, 2008, and was then inserted into the Public Lands Omnibus Bill. Congress passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 on March 25 of that year, and the Pacific Northwest Trail became the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail with President Obama's signature on March 30.
The Public Lands Omnibus Act of 2009 placed the trail under the management of the Department of Agriculture, with the United States Forest Service serving as the trail administrator. A comprehensive management plan for the Pacific Northwest Trail is currently under development.
In 2017, the Pacific Northwest Trail Association celebrated its 40th anniversary, as well as the 40th anniversary of the first five thru-hikes of the trail.
Beginning at Chief Mountain Customs on the United States–Canada border in central Montana, the Pacific Northwest Trail traverses the high mountains and valleys of Glacier National Park, where it shares mileage with the Continental Divide Trail. Then it enters Flathead National Forest, travels across the Flathead River into Polebridge, Montana, up the Whitefish Divide, into Kootenai National Forest, and through the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area and Ten Lakes Scenic Area on its way to the Idaho state line.
In Idaho Panhandle National Forest, the PNT crosses the Moyie River Valley, winds its way through the forest lands, dikes, and farmlands of the Kootenai River Valley, up Parker Ridge to the Selkirk Crest, then down Lions Head and over Lookout Mountain to Upper Priest Lake. From there, the trail climbs toward the Washington state line.
In Washington, the PNT enters Colville National Forest in the Salmo-Priest Wilderness, then crosses the Pend Oreille River on the Metaline Falls Bridge, before continuing over Abercrombie Mountain and reaching the Columbia River, in the town of Northport.
Next, the trail wanders along the Kettle Crest, through Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and into the range lands and orchards of the Okanogan River Valley. From the city of Oroville, Washington, the PNT follows the Similkameen River to Palmer Lake, where the trail travels through Loomis State Forest, and then begins its ascent into the Pasayten Wilderness, where the PNT shares tread with the Pacific Crest Trail.
After traversing the Pasayten, the trail crosses Ross Lake National Recreation Area and North Cascades National Park. The trail exits the park via Hannegan Pass, and continues through the Mt. Baker Wilderness. From Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, the trail uses a mix of federal, state, and private timber lands to reach the shores of Puget Sound.
Along the dikes and through the farmlands of Skagit County, the trail traverses Fidalgo Island, crosses the bridge at Deception Pass State Park and continues across Whidbey Island to the Washington State Ferry Terminal in Coupeville, Washington.
After a thirty-minute ferry ride, the trail picks up in the quaint seaside community of Port Townsend, Washington and the confluence of three trails: the Larry Scott Trail, the Olympic Discovery Trail, and the Pacific Northwest Trail. The trails circumnavigate the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula and Discovery Bay before going their separate directions, with the PNT turning southwest through Olympic National Forest, Buckhorn Wilderness and into Olympic National Park.
As the trail leaves the park and travels along the Bogachiel River it finds its way through the northern end of the Hoh Rain Forest to the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Hoh River. There, the trail turns north and wanders along the Wilderness Coast where it enters the Quileute Indian Reservation near the town of La Push, then continues north to its western terminus at Cape Alava.
Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail is a 175-mile (282 km) long trail located on the island of Hawaii. It is not yet a continuous "trail", but can be accessed at several broken segments along the coastline of the Big Island. The trail was established to access the traditional Ancient Hawaiian culture along with the natural geology of the island. The trail was established 14 November 2000 as a National Historic Trail which is managed under the National Park Service. The trail has received funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.Amphitheater Mountain (Washington)
Amphitheater Mountain is an 8,358-foot (2,548-metre) multi-peak mountain located in Okanogan County in Washington state. It is part of the Okanogan Range which is a sub-range of the North Cascades and Cascade Range. The mountain is situated on the east side of the Cascade crest, in the Pasayten Wilderness, on land administered by Okanogan National Forest. The sprawling Amphitheater Mountain has several sub-peaks including the South Peak (8269 ft/2520 m), West Peak (8252 ft/2515 m), and North Peak (8200 ft/2499 m). The nearest higher peak is Cathedral Peak, 0.95 miles (1.53 km) to the north. The Pacific Northwest Trail traverses below the north slope of Amphitheater Mountain as it crosses Cathedral Pass. Precipitation runoff from Amphitheater Mountain drains west into Cathedral Fork, or east into Cathedral Creek.Apex Mountain (Okanogan County, Washington)
Apex Mountain is an 8,297-foot (2,529-metre) mountain summit located in Okanogan County in Washington state. It is part of the Okanogan Range which is a sub-range of the North Cascades and Cascade Range. The mountain is situated 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of the Canada-United States border, on the east side of the Cascade crest, in the Pasayten Wilderness, on land managed by Okanogan National Forest. The nearest higher peak is Amphitheater Mountain, 2.35 miles (3.78 km) to the west-northwest. The Pacific Northwest Trail traverses the northern slopes of Apex Mountain as it crosses Apex Pass. Precipitation runoff from Apex Mountain drains west into Cathedral Creek, or east into Tungsten Creek, both tributaries of the Chewuch River.Bay View State Park
Bay View State Park is a public recreation area located on Padilla Bay in Skagit County, Washington, USA. The state park's 66 acres (27 ha) include 1,285 feet (392 m) of shoreline and facilities for camping, picnicking, fishing, swimming and beachcombing. It originated in 1925 when the Skagit County Agricultural Association donated land to the state to be used for park purposes. The park is crossed by a stretch of the Pacific Northwest Trail.Cape Alava
Cape Alava, in Clallam County, Washington, U.S., is the westernmost point in the contiguous 48 states. The westernmost point is located in Olympic National Park and the Makah Indian Reservation.
Cape Alava is accessible via a 3-mile (5 km) boardwalk hike from a ranger station in the park.
Cape Alava Trail was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1981.Cathedral Peak (Washington)
Cathedral Peak is an 8,606-foot (2,623-metre) mountain summit located in Okanogan County in Washington state. It is part of the Okanogan Range which is a sub-range of the North Cascades. The mountain is situated in the Pasayten Wilderness, on land administered by Okanogan National Forest. The nearest higher peak is Grimface Mountain, 2.6 miles (4.2 km) to the north in Cathedral Provincial Park in Canada. The Pacific Northwest Trail traverses below the south slope of Cathedral Peak as it crosses Cathedral Pass. Less than a mile to the opposite side of the pass stands Amphitheater Mountain. Precipitation runoff from Cathedral Peak drains west into Cathedral Fork, or east into Cathedral Creek.Chris Townsend (writer)
Chris Townsend is a passionate hillwalker and author of over 20 books. He is also currently Hillwalking Ambassador for the British Mountaineering CouncilAlthough Craig Caldwell was the first person to climb all of the Munros and Tops in one continuous journey, Townsend was the first to do so entirely on foot covering 1,700 miles (2,700 km) and 575,000 feet (170,000 m) of ascent over all 517 of the 3,000 ft (914 m) Scottish summits listed in Munro's Tables. He was also the first person to walk the length of the Canadian Rockies, a distance of 1,600 miles (2,500 km). Chris Townsend has also hiked the 2,600 mile (4200 km) Pacific Crest Trail, the 3,100 mile (5,000 km) Continental Divide Trail, from Land's End to John o' Groats in the UK (1,250 miles, 2,000 km), south–north through the Scandinavian mountains (1,300 miles, 2100 km), 1,000 miles (1,600 km) south–north through the Yukon Territory, the 800 mile (1,300 km) Arizona Trail, the 1,200 mile Pacific Northwest Trail and the 700 mile Scottish Watershed.
Townsend has been a long-term contributor to The Great Outdoors magazine, for whom he is currently the Gear Editor. His book The Backpacker's Handbook won the Outdoor Writer's Guild Award for Excellence in 1993. He is the co-author, with Annie Aggens, of the Encyclopedia of Outdoor & Wilderness Skills: The Ultimate A–Z Guide for The Adventurous.Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (in short Continental Divide Trail (CDT)) is a United States National Scenic Trail running 3,100 miles (5,000 km) between Mexico and Canada. It follows the Continental Divide of the Americas along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five U.S. states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. In Montana it crosses Triple Divide Pass (near Triple Divide Peak which separates the Hudson Bay, Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean drainages.) The trail is a combination of dedicated trails and small roads and considered 70% complete. Portions designated as uncompleted must be traveled by roadwalking on dirt or paved roads. This trail can be continued north into Canada to Kakwa Lake north of Jasper National Park by the Great Divide Trail.
The Continental Divide Trail, along with the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, form what thru-hiker enthusiasts have termed the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking in the United States.Flathead National Forest
The Flathead National Forest is a national forest in the western part of the U.S. state of Montana. The forest lies primarily in Flathead County, south of Glacier National Park. The forest covers 2,404,935 acres (3,758 sq mi; 9,732 km2) of which about 1 million acres (4,000 km2) is designated wilderness. It is named after the Flathead Native Americans who live in the area.Great Western Loop
The Great Western Loop is a 6,875 miles (11,064 km) long hiking route that passes through several states of the western United States.
It links together five long-distance hiking trails: the Pacific Crest Trail, the Pacific Northwest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Grand Enchantment Trail, and the Arizona Trail. It features some of the most remote, beautiful, hostile, and pristine environments in the United States, including the Mojave Desert, the Sonoran Desert, 12 National Parks, and 75 wilderness areas.
Andrew Skurka, a professional backpacker, was the first to complete the Great Western Loop. On April 9, 2007, Skurka began the route from the Grand Canyon. Averaging 33 miles (53 km) per day, Skurka arrived back at the Grand Canyon on November 3, 2007, 208 days after he began. Jeff Garmire became the second person to complete the route, doing so in 2018. Jeff Garmire started on April 30 and finished on November 24, totaling 208 days on the trail. Garmire completed Nolan’s 14 while on the expedition, reaching the peaks of fourteen 14ers in Colorado in under 60 hours. Mr. Skurka and Mr. Garmire are the only two people to complete the Great Western Loop in under a year.
In 2019, the Great Western Loop will officially become the Great Western Loop Trail and expanded to include the northern and southern termini of both the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). The El Diablo Highway (not to be confused with Arizona's El Camino del Diablo) and the Mexican American Aqueduct Trail will connect the southern termini of the PCT and CDT, while the Pacific Northwest Trail will connect the northern termini. Upon completion, the trail will have an estimated length of 7285 miles.Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is a route across the United States commemorating the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 to 1806. It is part of the National Trails System of the United States. It extends for some 3,700 miles (6,000 km) from Wood River, Illinois, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon.
The trail is administered by the National Park Service, but sites along the trail are managed by federal land management agencies, state, local, tribal, and private organizations. The trail is not a hiking trail, but provides opportunities for hiking, boating and horseback riding at many locations along the route. The trail is the second longest of the 23 National Scenic and National Historic Trails. Beginning at the Camp Dubois recreation in Illinois, it passes through portions of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is approximately 4,900 miles long, extending from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the mouth of the Columbia River, near present day Astoria, Oregon. It follows the historic outbound and inbound routes of the Lewis and Clark Expedition as well as the preparatory section from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Wood River, Illinois. The Trail connects 16 states (Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon) and many tribal lands. It is administered by the National Park Service.The 2019 John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act extended the Trail an additional 1,200 miles along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Wood River, Illinois.Metaline Falls Bridge
The Metaline Falls Bridge carries Washington State Route 31 over the Pend Oreille River in the extreme northeast corner of the state. Officially named the Pend Oreille Bridge, it provides access from the south to the town of Metaline Falls and the Boundary Dam.
Completed in 1952, the bridge is a 696 feet (212 m) long and 26 feet (7.9 m) wide combination steel truss and concrete T-beam structure. Consisting of three main Warren deck truss spans, the longest of which is 240 feet (73 m), the bridge carries two lanes of traffic and a pedestrian walkway.
The bridge is a key part of the Pacific Northwest Trail and the International Selkirk Loop, both of which attract many outdoor enthusiasts to the Metaline Falls area. Washington Rock, a favorite climbing venue in the region, is almost directly above the point where SR 31 turns southeast to enter the town which allows climbers to take almost vertical photos of the bridge.
Eligible to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, WSDOT currently classifies the bridge as Functionally Obsolete, The Federal Highway Administration using the National Bridge Inventory rating method, gave the bridge an overall acceptable grade in 2017, with its lowest rating "Fair" for superstructure condition.New England National Scenic Trail
The New England National Scenic Trail (NET) is a National Scenic Trail in southern New England, which includes most of the three single trails Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, Mattabesett Trail and Metacomet Trail. After the Metacomet-Monadnock-Mattabesett trail system, the trail is sometimes called the Triple-M Trail. The 215-mile (346 km) route extends through 41 communities from Guilford, Connecticut at Long Island Sound over the Metacomet Ridge, through the highlands of the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, to the New Hampshire state border. (The remainder of the M-M Trail to the summit of Mount Monadnock in southern New Hampshire is not included in the designation.) This includes a now (2013) complete connector trail (the Menunkatuck Trail) from the southernmost location of the Mattabesett Trail (in northern Guilford, Connecticut) to the sea (Long Island Sound) and a deviation of the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail in Massachusetts, to lead the trail through state-owned land instead of largely unprotected land.The trail is administered by the National Park Service, and managed by two non-profit and member-volunteer based organizations: the Connecticut Forest and Park Association in Connecticut, and the Appalachian Mountain Club in Massachusetts. The trail is maintained by the volunteers of these organizations.Nez Perce National Historic Trail
The Nez Perce National Historic Trail follows the route taken by a large band of the Nez Perce Indian tribe in 1877 during their attempt to flee the U.S. Cavalry and get to Canada, to avoid being forced on to a reservation. The 1,170-mile (1,883 km) trail was created in 1986 as part of the National Trails System Act and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The trail traverses through portions of the U.S. states of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana and connects 38 separate sites across these four states that commemorate significant events that took place as the Nez Perce tried to escape capture by the U.S. Cavalry. The sites are part of the National Park Service's Nez Perce National Historical Park, managed overall by the National Park Service, with some sites managed by local and state affiliated organizations.Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail, officially designated as the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) is a long-distance hiking and equestrian trail closely aligned with the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, which lie 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 km) east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail's southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico, just south of Campo, California, and its northern terminus on the Canada–US border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia; its corridor through the U.S. is in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington.
The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,653 mi (4,270 km) long and ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon–Washington border to 13,153 feet (4,009 m) at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. Its midpoint is near Chester, California (near Mt. Lassen), where the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges meet.It was designated a National Scenic Trail in 1968, although it was not officially completed until 1993. The PCT was conceived by Clinton Churchill Clarke in 1932. It received official status under the National Trails System Act of 1968.
It is the westernmost and second longest component of the Triple Crown of Hiking and is part of the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop.Ron Strickland
Ron Strickland (born March 19, 1943) is an American conservationist, long distance trail developer, and author. He is the founder of the 1,200-mile (1,900 km) Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT) and of the proposed transcontinental Sea-to-Sea Route (C2C). He is the author of nine books including his 2011 memoir Pathfinder: Blazing a New Wilderness Trail in Modern America.Sheep Mountain (Okanogan County, Washington)
Sheep Mountain is an 8,274-foot (2,522-metre) mountain summit located in Okanogan County in Washington state. It is part of the Okanogan Range which is a sub-range of the North Cascades and Cascade Range. The mountain is situated less than 2 miles (3.2 km) south of the Canada-United States border, on the east side of the Cascade crest, in the Pasayten Wilderness, on land managed by Okanogan National Forest. The nearest higher peak is Andrew Peak, 8.3 miles (13.4 km) to the east-southeast. The Pacific Northwest Trail traverses the slopes of Sheep Mountain as it crosses Peeve Pass. Precipitation runoff from Sheep Mountain drains west into Peeve Creek, or east into tributaries of Ashnola River. The mountain was so named because for 40 years the meadows surrounding it were prime grazing land for sheep in the summer, before the protection of wilderness designation.Wild Oak Trail
The Wild Oak Trail is a 27.0-mile (43.5 km) National Recreation Trail located in the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians in Central Virginia, United States. It is part of George Washington National Forest. The trail is a loop, and begins at the headwaters of the North River, and traverses up to several ridge tops. Due to the trail's difficulty (circumnavigating the trail requires 7,850 feet of total ascent) and length, it sees little traffic.
|National Geologic Trail|
|National Historic Trails|
|National Scenic Trails|
|National Water Trails|
|National Recreation Trails|