Over 1200 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Washington to the Continental Divide in Montana, the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail travels through diverse ecosystems. Being one of the youngest National Trails, it can be quite rugged and challenging. The trails traverses three National Parks: Olympic, North Cascade, and Glacier; as well as seven national forests. Rainforest to high desert, ocean to alpine; this trail travels through many gems of the upper left corner of the U.S.
West Terminus: Cape Alava, Olympic NP, WA
East Terminus: Chief Mountain TH, Glacier NP, MT
The PNT connects two other National Scenic Trails, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. This east-west connector has been used in the Great Western Loop and as part of the Sea-to-Sea Route.
A special note should be made for Ron Strickland who has been making his dream of this trail a reality for over 40 years. Also, the Pacific Northwest Trail Association deserves recognition for continuing to improve the trail and advocating preservation of these wild places.
I’ll be starting a self-supported FKT attempt on the Pacific Northwest Trail beginning Monday morning 8/23/21, headed eastbound. The goal is to finish by 9/23/21.
You can follow along here if you want: share.Garmin.com/nickfowler
I will submit trail notes and photos after completion.
The PNT is unique in that there’s a “congressional”, a “primary” as suggested by the PNT, and various “alternate” routes. When initially mapping out the route I noticed differences in different maps so I called the PNTA to confirm the primary route they suggest. I will be following the “primary route” as suggested by the PNTA, as some sections of the “congressional route” were decommissioned in the 90’s (even though it was designated by congress in the 2009 - the PNTA has no clue why they signed off on decommissioned areas. Good ol tax dollars being used wisely by the super efficient government again I suppose.)
There are currently several closures (some of which have been there for several years) on the PNT that the PNTA has suggested reroutes for that I’ll be following so I don’t end up dying in a mudslide, forest fire, or get shot by a tree farmer. Some of these reroutes are longer, a couple are shorter.
1. Undi Rd Closure near Olympic National Park (2.2 on reroute vs 1.3 on Primary Route = 0.9 longer)
2. Timber Harvest closure on Mt Josephine (3.7 on reroute vs 4.2 on Primary Route = 0.5 shorter)
3. Chopaka Rd Closure (11.1 miles on reroute vs 9.3 on Primary Route = 1.8 longer)
4. Bonaparte Mtn Fires closure: (32.4 on reroute vs 29 on Primary Route = 3.4 miles longer)
5. Wildfire closure west of Lookout Mountain. (5.2 miles on reroute vs 13.5 on Primary Route = 8.3 shorter)
6. Hay Creek Fire (43.8 miles on reroute vs 47.2 on Primary Route = 3.4 shorter)
Total mileage difference with closures = 6.1 shorter
In order to put forth an equal effort I will be starting my timer from the Lake Ozette connecting trail before the PNT begins to add 3.1 miles as well as hike around the Quillayute River instead of taking a boat ride across it to add an additional 5.1 miles (8.2 total additional miles). This will bring the mileage difference to 2.1 more miles than the Primary PNT route.
Congratulations, Nick. Huge effort. Welcome to the 1200 miler club.
Wow, huge mission & congrats!