We receive quite a few questions about how far long distance hikers trek per day. These answers are specific to Cheer’s Northbound experience on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2019. This mileage won’t work for everyone, so these are just examples but are likely close to an average experience for a long distance trail. The mileage is categorized by section of the PCT:
I (Cheer) started the desert section with 15 miles per day in the first week, and progressively worked my way up to an average of 22 or 23 miles per day. It was important for me to start slow to ease my body into the new “normal” of hiking all day. Starting slow was also important for injury prevention! Many people I met that were doing 20 miles or more out-the-gate were injured and off trail by Idyllwild. That’s not to say it’s not possible to do this and be injury-free. Just make sure to train before so your body is prepared for that level of activity.
This section was a little more challenging because of the snow, pack weight, elevation changes, and river crossings (which slowed me & my group down). 2019 was a big snow year, which made river crossing dangerous, so we would often spend an hour or so looking for the safest place to cross (which isn’t always where the trail is). Averaged 12 miles per day in this section possibly? Just be prepared for this section to be slower going if the snow & river conditions are intense.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA SECTION
I started to ramp up my miles again (not much snow!!) with the intention to hit 30 miles in Oregon. Averaged about 24 miles in this section, and some days I hiked a marathon (26.2 miles) or more. I felt like I was really getting my trail-legs here.
This state is certainly not “flat” like so many people say…but in comparison to the Sierra & Washington it is. However, there were some easier sections and I made sure to take advantage of the relatively flat terrain. Had some 30 mile days, and consistently was hiking around 28 miles per day. My highest mileage day on the whole trail was just under 32 miles in Oregon. Some hikers chose to do 40’s depending on their timing restraints and how fast they wanted to go, but I felt no need. There were also people hiking 60 miles in one day (a well-known challenge in the Oregon section). Another “challenge” I heard of while hiking through Oregon was the “Two Week Challenge” where hikers finish the state in 14 days. I thought Oregon was absolutely amazing (especially the Sisters Wilderness) and chose to take my time. But if you want to make up some time, Oregon is usually the place to do it.
Let the climbing begin! There were tons of “ups & downs” in this section…so I called it the “butt blaster” state. By this time I was hiking stronger and was able to handle it (especially with the epic views!!). I was hiking more like 20-23 miles in this section and the most challenging area in my opinion was the Glacier Peak Wilderness. WHEW!
Cheer, PCT Class of 2019
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