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PNT in Public Lands

The Pacific Northwest Trail travels through Wilderness areas in three National Parks and seven National Forests. These sections include some of the most breathtaking scenery and high-quality hiking and riding experiences on the PNT. A trip on the PNT in Wilderness areas does require some special considerations and advanced planning. Here’s what you need to know.

The Pacific Northwest Trail travels through three National Parks and seven National Forests:

 Permits

Permits are required in the three National Parks. Currently, there is no long-distance permit offered for the Pacific Northwest Trail. All hikers and horse riders will need to work directly with each of the Parks to get the necessary permits for backcountry travel and overnight camping. Links and contact information for each of the parks are provided below.

Glacier National Park

IMG_0163.JPGwww.nps.gov/glac    Visitor Information:  406-888-7800

Backcountry Use Permit is required for all backcountry overnight stays and must be in your possession while in the backcountry. The park begins processing advanced reservations April 15th of each year. For information on available campsites, permit fees, and how to make an advanced reservation, visit the park’s Backcountry Camping page.

No dispersed camping is allowed in the park. Camp only in designated sites on the dates/locations specified in the itinerary on your permit. You can find a map of Glacier National Park's backcountry campsites here. 

Glacier National Park is home to many of North America's most inspiring wildlife.  Proper food storage and visitor behavior is required when traveling in the backcountry country.  Illness-causing Giardia may be present in lakes and streams. Follow the recommendations sent with your permit to treat water for drinking and cooking.

Stock use is permitted on most of Glacier’s trails, but prohibited off trail. Most backcountry campgrounds are open to stock use. Stock are not allowed on roads, including the Bowman Lake Road.  Pets and Bicycles are prohibited on trails and in the backcountry.

Early-season hikers will likely encounter snow and ice—but hikers should be prepared for snow, rain, and adverse weather any time of year. Check trail status and conditions before you go. Travel over steep snow requires an ice axe and self-arrest skills.

Do not expect any cell phone reception in the North Fork and Goat Haunt areas or in the backcountry. There is no WiFi connectivity in the park.

There is commercial shuttle service available to Chief Mountain Customs. There is no shuttle service to the Polebridge/Bowman Lake/Kintla Lake area.  Parts of Going-to-the-Sun Road, the primary route through the park, close each winter due to snow and avalanche danger.


North Cascades National Park Complex

IMG_0855.JPGhttp://www.nps.gov/noca

Wilderness Information Center (Marblemount):  360-854-7245

In the North Cascades National Park Complex, much of the PNT is located in the Stephen Mather Wilderness.  A Backcountry Permit is required for all backcountry overnight stays and must be in your possession while in the backcountry.  The park provides special instructions for PNT thru-hikers on how to obtain a permit.  Starting in 2017, the park will implement a pilot reservation program which will allow for advance reservations to be made for the most popular portions of the park. At this time, this system only includes the portion of the PNT along the shores of Ross Lake.

No dispersed camping is allowed along the PNT in the park. You may camp only in the park's designated sites on the dates/locations specified in the itinerary on your permit. You can find a map of North Cascades National Park's backcountry sites here.

The North Cascades National Park Complex is home to many wild animals that may be habituated to human food and products.  Be bear aware and store food properly.  IGBC bear-resistant containers may be checked out from the Wilderness Information Center and some ranger stations.  Illness-causing Giardia and other contaminants may be present in lakes and streams. Treat water for drinking and cooking.

The North Cascades are high elevation mountains and trails may have snow into July.  Hikers should be prepared for snow, rain, mudslides, and adverse weather any time of year. Check trail status and conditions before you go.

There are plentiful opportunities for horseback riding and stock packing. The East Bank Trail and Big Beaver Trail on the Pacific Northwest Trail are among the park’s most popular riding trails.  Pets are not allowed on any trails or in the backcountry (more than 50 feet from the road) in North Cascades National Park. Pets are allowed on a leash within the Ross Lake National Recreation Area. If you need clarification, call the Wilderness Information Center.  Bicycles are not allowed on trails or in wilderness.

Tree cover and steep mountain walls block most cell reception in the park and surrounding areas. Emergency cell phone calls may go to dispatch centers far away, sometimes in Canada, and it may take hours for the local responding agency to receive the information.  North Cascades Highway 20, the primary route through the park, closes each winter between milepost 134 and 171 due to snow and avalanche danger.  Always share your travel plans and travel with a first aid kit.  


Olympic National Park

Islands on the Coasthttp://www.nps.gov/olym

Wilderness Information Center (Port Angeles):  360-565-3100

Much of the park, including most of the Coast, has been designated and protected as Wilderness.  Wilderness Camping Permits are required for all backcountry overnight stays and must be in your possession while in the backcountry.  Reservations are accepted no earlier than March 15th each year for trips into quota areas (yellow/red), including Seven Lakes Basin and Ozette Coast, during the summer high season (May 1-September 30.) For non-quota areas (brown), there are no advance reservations; permits may be picked up at a permit office up to one day in advance.

You can plan your visit using this map of Olympic National Park's backcountry campsites. Be advised that you may camp only in designated sites/areas on the dates/locations specified in the itinerary on your permit. In quota areas, no dispersed camping is allowed.

Pacific Northwest Trail thru-hikers may call the Wilderness Information Center to arrange for a backcountry permit by phone. Please note, that permit-by-phone is a courtesy offered only to PNT end-to-enders because these park visitors are traveling on foot and do not pass by Olympic's permit issuing facilities. Please respect this courtesy and park staff by calling no later than one hour before the WIC closes. 

Olympic Peninsula is home to many wild animals that may be habituated to human foods and products.  Know how to travel safely in bear country, be mindful of mountain goats, and follow proper food storage rules to ensure that raccoons or other rodents don't make off with your gear or food. Approved bear-resistant containers are required in some areas, including the Seven Lakes Basin and Wilderness Coast; canisters may be checked out from the Wilderness Information Center and some ranger stations. In other areas you may hang food; carry a dedicated waterproof stuff sack and 75-100 feet of rope or cord, and know how to use them.  Illness-causing Giardia and other contaminants may be present in lakes and streams. Treat water for drinking and cooking. Filtration is recommended for the coast, where streams tend to be brackish.  Visit the Olympic National Park page for more information on food storage in Wilderness areas.  

Hiking the Wilderness Coast is more than a walk on the beach. It presents unique challenges that should not be taken lightly. You will be hiking with the tides, meaning your progress is greatly dictated (and often slowed!) by the rhythms of the tide and the terrain. Always carry - and know how to use - a local tide chart, a detailed topographic map, and a reliable watch.  We recommend checking the Park website for updated tide information, obtaining a tide chart at the Port Angeles WIC before visiting the coast, and obtaining maps, such as Custom Correct maps, of the south and north Olympic Coast. Some areas of the coast are impassable except at low tide; others are so dangerous they should never be attempted. Your map should indicate which areas where tides may be a problem, and at which height headlands become hazardous or impassable.  For more information on how to read a tide chart, or where to access headland trails, visit the Wilderness Coast page of the Olympic National Park. 

There are plentiful opportunities for horseback riding and stock packing in the park. Stock are not allowed on the Coast, except at Rialto Beach.  Pets are not allowed in Olympic National Park.  Mountain bikes are not allowed in Wilderness areas or on the trails that make up the Pacific Northwest Trail route in Olympic National Park.

Cell phone coverage is very patchy throughout most of the park. Emergency cell phone calls may go to dispatch centers far away, sometimes in Canada, and it may take hours for the local responding agency to receive the information.  Always leave a travel plan with someone, and travel with a first aid kit. 

Snow may linger on high-country trails as late as July or even August in some years. Hikers should be prepared for snow, rain, and adverse weather any time of year. Check trail status and conditions before you go. Travel over steep snow requires an ice axe and self-arrest skills.