Lace up your hiking boots and grab your backpack, the 1,200 mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail from Glacier National Park to the Washington Coast is one step closer to completion. Friday U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the formation of an advisory panel that will advise on the final corridor of the trail.
According to the Pacific Northwest Trail Association, the rugged trail is not for the beginning hiker. The route will take adventurers over the Rocky Mountains, Selkirk Mountains, Pasayten Wilderness, North Cascade Mountains, and the Olympic Mountains to Washington’s Wilderness Coast. The trail crosses three National Parks and seven National Forests and thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss. Currently there are several gaps in the trail that require hikers to find their own path through some difficult terrain. The panel will advise on the best way to close those gaps and formalize the trail.
The nonstop hike from Montana to the Pacific Ocean begins near the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park and travels west through Montana, Idaho, and Washington before reaching the Pacific Ocean near Cape Alava and is one of the National Geographic top 100 hikes. Currently only a few dozen intrepid hikers a year attempt the entire length. Supporters hope to bring more hikers to the trail once it is formally completed citing the increased numbers of endurance trekkers and popularity of the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.
While the trail can be a physical challenge, it runs close to many scenic mountain towns making resupply and a good meal closer than on some other trails. The Pacific Northwest Trail Association offers a detailed Re-Supply List – Towns and Resources map. Local businesses are hoping to see a boost from the increased interest and traffic on the trail in the next few years.