The Pacific Northwest Trail connects 1,200 miles from Montana to Washington’s Pacific Coast
Backpackers and hikers rejoice – there’s a new long distance National Scenic Trail for you to break in your boots with. The Pacific Northwest Trail (PNNST for short) route takes adventurers over the Rocky Mountains deep within Glacier National Park, then through the Selkirk Mountains, the Pasayten Wilderness, North Cascade Mountains, and the Olympic Mountains and winds up along Washington’s Wilderness Coast. Along the way you’ll cross three National Parks, seven National Forests and tens of thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss. The trail is predominantly a hiking trail that allows for pack animal use and limited bicycle use.
Currently there are several gaps in the trail that require hikers to perform basic route finding through some of the more remote and rugged terrain. Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak announced the formation of an advisory board tasked with providing direction on the final corridors of the trail.
The trail’s early origins can be traced back to the 1970’s when hiking enthusiast Ron “Pathfinder” Strickland – one of the last living founders of America’s National Scenic Trails. Ron began creating the pathway throughout the ’70’s and finally through hiked the then-proposed trail’s entire 1,200 mile length from east to west. The result was the first guidebook outlining the trail for hikers to come. Congress established the PNNST as on official National Scenic Trail in 2009. In the decades since Ron began his pathfinding efforts, hundreds of fellow adventurers have followed in his footsteps, and the route has been refined as trails used along the way have been opened or closed, bridges washed out or added, and security along the U.S.-Canada border has changed.
You can find out more information including good quality maps at the Pacific Northwest Trail Association’s website. There you can find a hiker/user forum, regularly updated trail condition information, trail alerts, galleries, FAQ, references, packing guides, and more.