Pacific Crest Trail: What Is Your Plan?

Whether you are thinking of tackling a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, walking the entire 2,653 miles, or want to glimpse the trail from your armchair, these guidebooks are for you.

In the Pacific Coast Trail: Oregon and Washington, Jordan Summers presents a user-friendly guide that addresses my questions: Could I walk the two states’ sections? Or just one state? Or should I try a short section first?

Summers’ book, updated in 2020, includes PCT history, mile-by-mile points of interest, permitting, and equipment. Topographic maps and elevation charts accompany blue text boxes highlighting all-important water sources. Looking for campsites or resupply information? Summers has you covered.

In Hiking the Pacific Coast Trail: Oregon, Eli Boschetto covers similar basics for the middle state of the PCT.

After walking five famed distance trails in Europe, I wondered if I could enjoy a backpacking trip in the USA, without the perks of hostels, hotels, and places to eat at the end of each day. I read both guidebooks as I prepared to walk California’s John Muir Trail in August 2021. For a month, I filtered water, bathed in streams and lakes, and lived in a tent. I was part of a group of 11 backpackers who were mule-supported, relieving us of the need to carry a heavy pack for 243 miles on the northbound walk through the Sierra Nevada.

The high-elevation trek included summitting Mt. Whitney and conquering 12 passes as high as 13,150 feet. It was the greatest physical challenge of my life, but, as tough as it was, I long for more.

The next logical step would be to tackle another section of the PCT, but without mule support. No doubt, I hear the PCT calling, but I have yet to answer.

At the very least, these books allowed me to appreciate and understand the challenges of one of the world’s great trails. If I decide to answer the call, even if just for a weeklong section, I will return to their pages.

Check out my new book about my adventures on four iconic trails in Europe: Trippin’ Through My Sixties.

My first book is Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.

Hike Oregon! But Don’t Forget Your Guide

Lace up your walking shoes, pack a lunch and head to the Oregon coast for some of the best day hikes in America. And if you are a regular walker around the state, you will not be caught without your William L. Sullivan guidebook.

Sullivan, who once backpacked solo for 1,361 miles in his beloved state, has written 18 books about Oregon, which is similar in size to Great Britain and, like Britain, is known for valuing public pathways. His book about the Oregon coast is one of five regional offerings that feature 100-plus day hikes each. He also chose his 100 favorites for a book covering the entire state.

Hand-drawn maps, difficulty ratings and user-friendly narratives have guided Sue and me on countless walks around Oregon since we moved to Ashland in 2014.

One of our most memorable outings, described in the Oregon Coast and Coast Range guide, is actually more of a drive than a walk. After 12 miles of a twisting, rough gravel road that begins near the southern city of Brookings, Sullivan’s book guides walkers to a 1.6-mile trail, round trip. This one is all about the destination, a Japanese bombing site. On September 9, 1942, a small plane was assembled on the deck of a Japanese submarine off the coast of southern Oregon. After the wings were attached, a pair of incendiary bombs were loaded. A catapult launch sent the plane inland for its mission: Start a forest fire to undermine America’s war effort. Sullivan tells the story and leads hikers to the bombing site. It is a beautiful, forested walk to an observation deck where signs chronicle pilot Nobuo Fujita’s daring attack.

Besides many rewarding walks on the coast, Sullivan’s Northwest Oregon guide has led us on spectacular adventures near Bend, a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. We are also partial to his guide about southern Oregon, our home.

When we depart on a trip to explore Oregon, we never leave home without Sullivan’s invaluable guidance.