Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Why your start date for the PCT permit 2018 is not important

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Are you desperately waiting to apply for a PCT permit 2018? Well, the release date for hikers starting the Pacific Crest Trail next year has just been announced by the PCTA – 1st November 2017.

Early start date for the PCT Permit 2018

Yes, this has come as a surprise to most people who have been planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 and from what I can see, it is much earlier than hikers wanted or anticipated. In fact, last year the first release date for a PCT permit was January 24th with the remaining permits made available on February 13th so this change will certainly come as a surprise.

Does an early release date for PCT permits 2018 matter so much?

To be honest, I don’t think it does and I say this from the perspective of a non-US resident who needs to organize a lot more than most people in order to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018. At the same time, yes an early release date gives hikers less time to determine how to best avoid the worst of the snow pact next year but really, even in January this is too difficult to predict.

If anything, I think this early release date for PCT permits 2018 is a good thing as it gives the hiker much more time to prepare. Whether this involves booking flights or helps you decide on the best day to hand in your notice at work, an early release date is convenient in that it at least removes a little bit of uncertainty around the process.

Tent on the PCT

What if you don’t get your preferred date for the PCT Permit 2018?

It has been suggested that an early start date will mean more hikers applying without being sure that they will actually set foot on the trail next April. I’m sure this will be the case in one or two circumstances but really, when you ask this question, it is a good indication that you are just concerned that you might miss out on hiking the trail.

Imagine that; planning for one year (or more) to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018 and then missing out on a permit to make your dreams a reality. Your golden ticket, the holy grail and only thing that kept you going this year – taken by someone who won’t even hit the trail at all.

Relax. What is the point in worrying about something you have no control over? I realize that you know this already but some people continue to worry about it anyway, right? If some PCT permits are snapped up for the above reason then this is the way it’s going to be – get used to it.

Why the start date of the PCT is not important

On the other hand, will it really matter in the long run? Probably not. You see, the specific date you want may not be available when November comes around but contrary to how it might feel – this is not the ONLY date available. In fact, for those of you hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Campo to Manning Park next year; one, two, three or even seven days is a relatively small amount of time.

Moral of the story: Yes, it would be great to get the specific date you want but regardless, the only important thing to remember here is that you will still be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2018.

PCT Forest

So, when are you hoping to start and what do you think about the early start date? Let me know on my Facebook page.


I'm an Outdoor Adventure Blogger from Dublin, Ireland. In late 2013 I began riding a bicycle across Africa and it was during this adventure when I discovered a passion for the great outdoors and the general uncertainty of life on the road. Next April, I am hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.


  1. Tony

    October 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm


    Thanks for a interesting read. My family is from Ireland funnily enough but now we live in Kent. I have actually been making plans to hike the whole PCT next year and start in the middle of March. I want to start earlier so i can make use of the extra time doing photography through the hike with a slightly larger camera(DSLR) than what most people are willing to take due to the weight. Mainly i am interested in Astro-photography and landscapes. A month early start will hopefully allow me extra time to get some magnificent images whilst still taking in as much trail culture and other activities whilst doing the hike. Do you have a particular start date that you are interested in?

    • Derek Cullen

      November 21, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Hi Tony, great to hear from you and sorry for the long delay. Yes I have a permit date for April 22nd and can’t wait to get started. I may arrive early like yourself to spend time in a city….or two! Again, sorry for taking so long to reply!

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