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What's better, CT or PCT across WA state?
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Russell Jacobie
(flyer4food) - F

Locale: Sierras
What's better, CT or PCT across WA state? on 03/28/2011 22:46:18 MDT Print View

I have a month off and want to do a 500ish mile hike Aug 15-Sep 15. The PCT across Washington state sounds amazing, but I've done the JMT and I'd like to try the Rockies. That being said the Colorado Trail is more crowded (maybe?) and I do like seclusion.

Most important I want to be awed by scenery and challenged by high altitude and difficult hikes. Anyone here ever done both hikes got any advice? Maybe a different section of the PCT? I've only done the JMT to date, so I'm really open to suggestions.

-Satchel (559-903-8091 if anyone wants to chat)

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Great time to hike on 03/29/2011 00:23:50 MDT Print View

The particular time you have to hike is a really great time of year to do so in the NW. I have no experience on the CT (yet ...). The PCT through WA state would be a fine choice.

A good alternative would be the state of Oregon on the PCT. Start in Ashland and hike to Cascade Locks (OR/WA border) or perhaps vice versa. Overall a bit easier trail to walk, and still a lot to see. If you like huckleberries and blueberries, the time you would be going through WA would be good (perhaps also true in parts of Oregon, though I'm guessing that WA is overall better there).

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
Re: Great time to hike on 03/29/2011 09:30:40 MDT Print View

I agree, that is some of the best time to hike in Washington. The bugs will be calming down and the high country should be melted out. You may also want to consider doing a section of the Pacific Northwest Trail. It will give you a wide range of ecosystems, and will definitely provide you with some solitude. Bear in mind it is still a work in progress, so make sure you get some good route beta.

Russell Jacobie
(flyer4food) - F

Locale: Sierras
North or South across WA state? on 03/29/2011 09:44:00 MDT Print View

So if I'm starting Aug 15th going to Sep 15th, should I start at Monument 78 and go South or Start at Oregon border going north?

Some considerations:
I am thinking of starting in Oregon and going north, I've heard there may still be some snow on the northern portion of the trail in August, so it would be better to hit manning park in Sep.

However... It will be colder in Sep and also colder up north, so maybe start north and head south so as the season gets colder I get into warmer climates. Any thoughts?


Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: What's better, CT or PCT across WA state? on 03/29/2011 09:44:09 MDT Print View

There is no challenging altitude on the Washington section of the PCT. Also, a large portion of it is viewless or has uninspiring views. I kept wondering the whole time what all the fuss was about. Until right toward the end. There were a few amazing views in the Alpine Wilderness, Glacier Peak was breathtaking and the North Cascades were rugged, jagged and blew the High Sierra out of the water as far as I'm concerned.

Russell Jacobie
(flyer4food) - F

Locale: Sierras
Colorado Trail? on 03/29/2011 10:00:14 MDT Print View

Hmm.. anyone tried the Colorado Trail (CT)? It looks pretty amazing... crowded though, and it's bicycle friendly.. bleh.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: North or South across WA state? on 03/29/2011 10:16:41 MDT Print View

PCT North from Oregon/Washington border is unimpressive for the first 50 (?) miles.

Further North, going by Mount Adams and the Goat Rocks is some of the best.

In Oregon, going by the Three Sisters, Mount Jefferson, and Mount Hood are really nice.

(bigjerr) - F

Locale: high country
south bond in august should be good on 03/29/2011 11:14:20 MDT Print View

I'm planing a very similar monument 78 south around the 1RST OF AUG,I've read thats the time with the best chance of clr weather .because I hike w/ my 28 year old son with a slight handi cap I need to avoid Ice & ragging river crossings ,so early august is what I'm thinking . but now I have to deal getting to monument 78, looks like theres no roads up there ,have to go thru Canada I guess.
last fall ,end a August we did Donner pass to Yosemite ,perfect weather only hit snow /ice on the trail at a place just south of "the notch" ,plenty of water but no bad crossings ,no bugs ,see maybe 1 person a day if that (they were heading north)except for Echo lake .my favorite part of the pct to date,but weve only done about 700 last year..I loved the desolation wilderness and Tahoe rim . Jerry

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
CT or PCT across WA state on 03/29/2011 11:25:12 MDT Print View

Flyerforfood - You have a PM.

I've done the PCT from Mojave to Manning Park and the first six segments of the CT. Going back this summer to finish the CT. Of the two, I'd opt for the CT every time.

Aug 15 - Sept 15 is only 32 days (four weeks and change). I really don't think you have enough time to complete either trip in the time you have available.

The CT is 485 trail miles, with a lot more elevation gain and loss than the WA PCT. Most hikers take 5 weeks (6 trail days + 1 zero each week) at 16 mpd to do it. Unless you live in Denver or Durango, just travelling between home and the trailhead and back will eat up two full days, leaving only 30 on-trail days.

The WA PCT is slightly longer at 508 miles, but you can cover more mpd.

Edited by wandering_bob on 03/29/2011 12:05:47 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
What's better, CT or PCT across WA state? on 03/29/2011 11:39:29 MDT Print View

Unless you have a "purist" point of view that insists you have to do the whole trail, why not just do the most scenic parts of the Washington PCT?

Between Snoqualmie Pass and the Canadian border is almost all good. There are plenty of side trips along the way (Image Lake near Glacier Peak is one). Skip the section between Chinook Pass and Snoqualmie Pass (some scenery, especially the part close to Chinook Pass, but lots of clearcuts on the remainder). Hike from Mt. Adams through the Goat Rocks to White Pass or Chinook Pass. If you have time left, go down to Oregon and do the loop (55 miles plus side trips, such as a climb of South Sister) through the Three Sisters Wilderness.

For Colorado, why not do the southern Colorado section of the CDT instead of the CT? While many sections of the two coincide, the CDT, I understand from my reading, stays more in the high country and is more in wilderness areas.

For that matter, the 80-some mile section of the CDT through Wyoming's Wind Rivers is awesome. There are many possible sidetrips that could use up most of a month, or you could hike on north through Yellowstone.

Russell Jacobie
(flyer4food) - F

Locale: Sierras
Open ended on 03/29/2011 14:06:58 MDT Print View

Ya, I know it's tough. I actually just ordered the Wyoming/Montana section of the CDT to see, that's another section. The only challenge is I'd like 500 miles of finished trail.. I am an airline pilot so I can hop around the country fairly easily, that being said I'd like to spend all 30 days in the wild, going back and forth between "civilization" doesn't really appeal to me.

Ben Wortman
(bwortman) - M

Locale: Nebraska
CDT on 03/30/2011 13:47:43 MDT Print View

How about the whole state of COLORADO on the CDT? It would give more seclusion than the CT, and give you more high altitude challenges. I have heard that the CDT is more scenic than the CT.

Paul Gibson
(pgibson) - F

Locale: SW Idaho
Re. What's better, CT or PCT across WA state on 03/30/2011 17:07:14 MDT Print View

Another option that would be far more solitude than any of the other trails listed and have lots of amazing scenery would be the ICT (Idaho Centennial Trail)

Far more work than the other trails regarding logistics with sections with no established resupply points.

Russell Jacobie
(flyer4food) - F

Locale: Sierras
Is Montana/Wyoming portion of the CDT more scenic than the CT? on 03/31/2011 08:35:26 MDT Print View

Just curious, which one is more scenic of those 2? I could do 500 miles of the CDT.. I just ordered the book regarding that portion, I'll relay what I learn.

Brian Downing
(b4pct) - F
Re: What's better, CT or PCT across WA state? on 09/29/2011 15:00:13 MDT Print View

My son and I did Washington from Panther Creek to Manning park in 21 walking days. You will have days where you see know one. Same time frame... perfect weather great views.

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: What's better, CT or PCT across WA state? on 09/29/2011 17:49:25 MDT Print View

I've hiked both. I think I liked the PCT better basically because it feels more like wilderness, on average. The part north of Snoqualmie Pass is amazing. The CT is beautiful too but it hardly ever felt too far from civilization with all the dirt roads and, well, the relative proximity to civilization. If you choose the CT, be sure to take the old route through the Collegiate Peaks (Hope Pass and Missouri Gulch, impressive). The northern part of the CT (all the way south to Tennessee Pass)was a bit deceptive, too many roads and urban areas, it'd look like Europe. Apart from the Goat Rocks, The PCT is not terribly scenic from the Columbia up to Snoqualmie Pass but at least it keeps the hiker reasonably off the urban things.

You should be able to cover any of them in your time slot if you pack light and are fit.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
CT on 09/30/2011 04:21:57 MDT Print View

I think any UL'er could do the CT in 30 days, so I'm not sure why you'dhave to limit yourself to any given section. I DREAM of doing that someday.

But another to consider is the Pacific Northwest Trail, if you want to stay in Washington. The Washington section would be about a month.