One of the best-known, most-romanticized west coast hiking routes is the Pacific Crest Trail. Well, did you know that the PCT runs right through Central Oregon?
The Pacific Crest Trail traverses the entire span of the west coast in the United States, with starting points at both the Canadian and Mexican borders. It passes through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Hikers are welcome to hike smaller portions of the trail on day-hikes, but there are thousands of hikers that make the full 2,650-mile-long journey. The trail features some of the best features of the western landscape: gorgeous desert, the glaciated expanses of the Sierra Nevada, deep forests, and the breathtaking views and volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range.
THE START OF THE PCT
In August of 1920, Fred Cleator wrote "I am beginning to think that a Skyline Trail the full length of the Cascades in Washington & Oregon joining a similar trail in the Sierras of California would be a great tourist advertisement. For that matter it might be continued thru British Columbia and up the Alaska highlands. This is a future work but it would be fine to plan upon."
Fred went on to map the route of the "Oregon Skyline Trail," which would be the first iteration of the PCT.
In 1926, Catherine Brown (an avid hiker and one of the founding faculty members of Western Washington University) was the first to propose a hiking trail running through California, Oregon, and Washington. Washington State Forest preserve and with it they built the Catherine Montgomery Nature Interpretive Center.
If Catherine Montgomery is the mother of the PCT, then Clinton Clarke is definitely the father. This private, reserved man took up the cause of the PCT in 1932 at the ripe old age of 59-- that was pretty darn old back then! He was responsible for the first physical maps related to the PCT's route. He planned and executed the trail's meandering path through peaks, valleys, desert, forests, and plains.
Throughout the next decade, the PCT was fully routed and explored. In 1935, Clarke planned and executed the first Pacific Crest Trail System Conference in order to both plan the trail, and to lobby the federal government to protect the trail.
After years of lobbying, physical toil towards the trail, and with lots of interruptions due to war and economic strife, the Pacific Crest Trail was designated at a National Scenic Trail in 1968.
THE PCT IN CENTRAL OREGON
The Central Oregon stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail is often a favorite for thru-hikers. We actually have the Pacific Crest Trail to thank for two of our guides: Courtney and Jason! These two Naturalist Guides loved the Central Oregon stretch of the PCT so much, they decided to move to Bend solely based on the beauty of the landscape. If you join them on a tour, be sure to ask them about their hiking experience!
There are some pretty amazing trails running through the wilderness of Jefferson Park, and along the striking features of Three Fingered Jack (fun fact: it's a shield volcano!). There are definitely some amazing options for day hikes in the area. In fact, we just lead a custom hike for a group that wanted to hike a portion of the PCT near Odell Lake!