Section Hike - Pacific Crest Trail


If I wanted to skip the desert section at the southern end of the PCT where is a good place to start and how early in the year could I start without a high risk of having to wait for snow to clear out of the Sierras?

Big B


Big B - This is a difficult question since there are numerous sections of high desert throughout SoCal on the PCT all the way to Walker pass. I love the way the PCT fluctuates between mountain ranges & beautiful desert sections all the way to the Sierra.

If you want to skip all of the desert sections, then you’d want to start your hike @ Walker Pass - which is fairly easily accessible from Bakersfield CA.

Since Walker Pass (mile 647) is only 50 miles from Kennedy Meadows (mile 698), you would probably not want to start your hike until the end of May or early June in an average snow year. There would still be considerable snow @ the higher passes unless its another extremely low snow year. (The predictions are for quite a bit of snow this year due to the ‘El Nino’ effect - very warm Pacific Ocean temps).

If I were you, I would start @ the Mexican border and appreciate all the beauty of the short & sweet desert sections.

Happy Trails,



I section hiked the PCT in five basic parts to completion.

There was a taxi cab place in Inyokern, CA (down the mountain from Kennedy Meadows) that took Pearson and I up to the Kennedy Meadows area (for a lot of money). Nice people and our backpacks where shipped to their taxi cab place when Pearson and I flew into Inyokern from, as I remember, LAX.

Coins all over the floor of the Inyokern plane on the ride into Inyokern – seems the jumper turned upside down on the previous flight. Pilot was a teenager it appeared. Got there in one piece though. As the Reverend Ron White would say, “Flew at the speed of smell.”

If I were you, I would start northbound at Kennedy Meadows (Note there are two Kennedy Meadows on the PCT – this is the southern one up the mountain from the Inyokern, CA airport) and review the PCT snow charts at for when a reasonable entry into the Sierra Mountains might occur.

For reference (since has PCT snow historical data graphed for your convenience) Pearson and I started near Kennedy Meadows on June 6th or so during 2007. There was no snow at Forrester Pass and we couldn’t have picked a better year to miss the PCT snow.

The altitude hit me pretty hard coming directly out of a cubicle to the PCT so you might keep that in mind when you’re planning miles per day (you can use my PCT journal to gauge mileage in the Sierra when coming straight out of a cubicle and onto the PCT at Kennedy Meadows going northbound during a low snow year).




Since SkyWest Airlines pulled out, there is no longer airline service into Inyokern.

Walker Pass from the east is much closer to Highway 14 than Kennedy Meadows, with a lot more traffic. There is bus service between Mojave and Ridgecrest/Inyokern. Not familiar with the schedule.

A lot of folks around here have no problem giving hitching hikers a ride. A few simple rules:

  1. If practicable stand by the road near an intersection where some traffic has to slow or come to a stop.
  2. Create a sign - something like “Walker Pass (PCT hiker)”
  3. Have your backpack on or clearly visible in front of you.
  4. Stand up. Thumb out. Act like you’re interested.
  5. If mixed company, have the female in front (ok - that’s sexist, but that’s also the real world)

If you get in a bind, email me. (Caveat - I hope to spend most of the summer in the Sierra backcountry without email)