Switching to PCT from AT


I decided in March of 2016 to thru hike the AT in 2017. I’ve done endless amounts of research (like everyone else) and have already accumulated all of my gear. I will have around $11,000 saved by February. Due to the rampant wildfires in the south , over-crowding in general on the AT, and my greater interest in the scenery/environment on the PCT, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks really considering a switch. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on resupplies and extra gear needed, and I’m totally comfortable with the logistics of it. But in the back of my mind, I’m freaking out. First of all, my partner wants to thru-hike the PCT in two-three years, so I’d be taking over his dream a little bit. I’m afraid that if I fail, I will blame it on not hiking the AT instead. Does anyone have any advice on what to do, or even advice on hiking the PCT in general? Thanks!

Annie Ferris


Hey Annie,
I’ve thru-hiked both the AT & PCT three times. I have a couple of thoughts concerning your dilemma:

(1) Both the AT & pCT are overcrowded after the Hollywood movies. You can avoid some of the crowds on the PCT by avoiding the most popular times to start (mid April). If you start earlier, you’ll have more water sources and a more relaxed pace.

(2) It sounds like your more excited about the PCT & if you only have the opportunity to hike one of the trails, it would be the ‘wilder’ choice. However, if you’ll have the opportunity to hike both trails, then the AT would be the logical choice for your first thru-hike – especially since the AT would seem rather civilized after a PCT thru-hike.

(3) Human advice might be helpful, but opinions don’t hold a candle to pure intuition. If I were you, I would listen to the “still small voice” within for guidance on what to do.

Either trail will provide the experience of a lifetime.

Happy Trails,



Hi Annie. Freebird is certainly the expert with all his experience. I have hiked the AT and dream of some day hiking the PCT. My AT hike was in 05 so things have changed a lot since then. I found the logistics of an AT hike to be quite simple. Resupply is quite simple. With a few exceptions you cross a road that you could hitch from or arrange a food drop most every few days. Water is normally available so I never carried more than 2 liters. The trail is fairly well marked. I saw hikers that did not even carry maps. I had cell phone service on most days. From what I read resupply, water, navigation, and cell phone service are not as simple and readily available on the PCT. I think you can get in trouble on either trail but much more so on the PCT. Having said all this when I look at photo’s of the PCT I am blown away. You are not going to see anything like that on the AT. If it turns out I am going to only get one long trail in my life I wish it had been the PCT. Hope this helps.

Steady On


The only additional comments I could make is that the hitches from the PCT to resupply are greater and can create more of a challenge. Whereas, on the AT you can almost go without any resupplies through the mail, while on the PCT, careful planning is critical. My partner and I were often left hungry when we had planned to resupply at local stores along the PCT and ended up with practically nothing worth buying. That being said, I would vote for the PCT if I only could hike one of those great trails.



Thank you all so much. I absolutely took your advice, Freebird. The only regrets I have in my life stemmed from not following my intuition and letting someone else define my choices. The decision to do something that will impact me this greatly should always be made by wholeheartedly trusting myself.
That being said, I have in fact decided to hike the PCT. Like you all have said, the resupplies and water sources are my main concerns, but I’ve found some really great resources here and on other websites to study and “plan” with over the next few months. Thanks again everyone.

Annie F.


You’re welcome Annie!

I’ve got a few more tips for you:

(1) Don’t ‘over-plan’ (ie spreadsheet schedules with exact dates for towns, etc.): it’s best to be as flexible as possible on a thru-hike & “go with the flow.” Rigid plans/schedules don’t work well on thru-hikes because there are so many unexpected variables: weather, alternate routes, fires, injury, unexpected zero days, etc.

(2) Start out slowly so that your body can get acclimated to the rigors of the hike. Many hikers start out too fast and end up stressing their bodies to the point of injury.

(3) Enjoy every day of the hike & don’t allow the fear of not finishing (weather concerns, etc.) compromise your thru-hike. Every year it seems that most thru-hikers get into the mentality that they must finish the PCT by an arbitrary deadline. They get into a ‘death march’ mentality in Oregon or Washington & no longer enjoy the actual hike. I’ve finished all three of my PCT hikes in October in favorable conditions.

When you finish, it’s bitter-sweet b/c the hike is OVER. The journey is EVERYTHING.

Happy Trails!



It’s possible to buy your food as you go but don’t depend on a good selection other than candy bars and junk food. Better option is to have someone from back home mail you resupply packages. Get plenty of USPS Flat Rate shipping boxes. Don’t mail them out all at once. Phone home weekly and fine tune your packages. If you can, send packages to stores, motels, etc, rather than the post office. Most P.O.s along the trail aren’t open Sat and Sun which could mean a 3 day lay over. For what it’s worth I’ve only missed one package delivery in my years of hiking (my bad, didn’t address correctly.