Discover the best books about the Pacific Crest Trail for ultimate hiking inspiration and adventure. Immerse yourself in the world of long-distance hiking!
What is the Pacific Crest Trail?
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is one of the most iconic long-distance hiking trails in the world. The trail is about 2,650 miles (4,286 kilometers) long and runs from the Mexican border in the south to the Canadian border in the north, through the western states of the United States of America. During the hike, you will pass through breathtaking landscapes, including deserts, mountain ranges, and forests.
Hikers, known on the PCT as thru-hikers, take on the challenge of completing the entire trail in one season. This vert not only physical effort but also mental because it takes about 4 to 6 months to finish the trail. Hiking the PCT is an incomparable experience and teaches you more about yourself, solitude, and connection with nature.
Great books about the Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail is a playground for adventurous souls and a source of inspiration for travelers around the world. After their hike, many hikers got behind their computers to write down their experiences. Several inspiring books have come out of this, ten of which I share in this article.
Wild: about losing yourself, finding yourself & hiking 1700 kilometers (Cheryl Strayed)
This book is a classic and everyone who runs the PCT knows it. Wild is a compelling memoir written by Cheryl Strayed, weaving her painful personal journey with a fearless solo trek on the Pacific Crest Trail.
With raw honesty and unfiltered emotion, Strayed takes the reader through her struggles with loss, self-discovery, and overcoming inner demons. The book is steeped in adventure as Cheryl navigates through the physical rigors of the PCT while embarking on a deep inner journey. “Wild” is an inspiring story about resilience and finding strength in the wildness of both nature and one’s own heart.
The book was filmed in 2014 starring Reese Witherspoon.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail (Tim Voors)
I’m from the Netherlands and I got very excited when I discovered that a fellow Dutch hiker wrote a book about his experience on the Pacific Cres Trail. And it’s a good one! Tim Voors is an experienced thru-hiker and wrote the book The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail. It is a riveting account of a man who takes on the challenge of braving the Pacific Crest Trail alone.
Voors takes the reader on a sincere and sometimes humorous journey, sharing not only the physical hardships of long-distance travel but also highlighting his personal development and the beauty of nature. The book offers a profound look into the loneliness, resilience, and joy of self-discovery during a solo adventure in the pristine wilderness of the PCT.
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart: An Adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail (Carrot Quinn)
Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn is a heartfelt and raw memoir that takes you on Carrot’s adventurous journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. Quinn shares her experiences as a female thru-hiker and does not shy away from the dark and challenging moments. The book offers an intimate look at the physical and emotional hardships of long-distance hiking, while also highlighting the beauty and strength of the natural world and the community of thru-hikers.
Carrot’s particular unfiltered writing style makes this book both compelling and inspiring, where she honestly addresses the combination of adventure and personal growth.
Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home (Heather Anderson)
Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home by Heather Anderson is a compelling memoir that chronicles Anderson’s extraordinary journey on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). As one of the fastest-known thru-hikers, Anderson provides readers with a firsthand account of her solo trek covering the entire 2,650-mile length of the PCT from Mexico to Canada.
The book delves into the physical and mental challenges Anderson faced during her record-setting hike, offering insights into the perseverance required for such an arduous adventure. Anderson shares the beauty of the landscapes she traversed, the camaraderie with fellow hikers, and the personal reflections that emerged during her long days on the trail.
“Thirst” not only captures the essence of long-distance hiking but also explores themes of self-discovery, resilience, and the deep connection one can forge with nature. Anderson’s storytelling is both inspiring and intimate, making the reader feel the highs and lows of her remarkable journey on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Pacific Crest Trail Data Book (Benedict Go)
After all the wonderful stories and experiences, it is now time for a practical book about the Pacific Crest Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail Data Book by Benedict Go is an essential guide for anyone planning to brave the Pacific Crest Trail. This handy reference book provides detailed information about the trail, including distances between camping spots, water facilities, elevation profiles, and other practical details.
The book is tailored for thru-hikers who need accurate and up-to-date information to plan and navigate their trip. Benedict Go makes a valuable contribution with this data book to the preparation and execution of a successful PCT hike, allowing you to focus more on exploring the beautiful surroundings rather than worrying about logistics.
The essential, cut-to-the-chase handbook for hiking and backpacking the PCT
Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail (Barney “Scout” Mann)
Barney Mann, better known as Scout, is a legendary hiker. He walked the Pacific Crest Trail with his wife and four others in 2007 and the book Journeys North: The Pacific Crest Trail tells their story. Scout, an experienced hiker and former president of the Pacific Crest Trail Association, takes you on a journey through the challenging and beautiful landscapes of the PCT, focusing on the northern section.
The book highlights not only the physical rigors of long-distance hiking but also the sense of community among thru-hikers and the deep connection with nature. The great thing about this book is that it also tells the personal stories of fellow hikers, allowing you to discover even more different facets of the trail.
Scout is a celebrity within the world of the Pacific Crest Trail. Together with his wife “Frodo,” he has been hosting hikers at his home in San Diego for many years. You can stay at his house for a few nights before you start the trail, a great place to make final preparations. He will make sure that you are taken to the starting point of the trail. It’s a free service (a real Trail Angel), but he asks you to pay it forward.
I also got to spend a night with Scout and Frodo before I started the PCT and it was incredible to meet this friendly couple. They have thought of everything to give hikers the best possible start to an unforgettable adventure. Read more about this on their website.
The Pacific Crest Trail – Hiking America’s Wilderness Trail (Mark Larabee and Barney Scout Mann)
Don’t feel like reading an extensive story but just want to look at pretty pictures? Then The Pacific Crest Trail – Hiking America’s Wilderness Trail by Mark Larabee and Barney Scout Mann is highly recommended. This beautifully illustrated book, published in association with the Pacific Crest Trail Association, highlights this legendary hiking trail with more than 170 spectacular images captured by America’s premier hiking photographer.
The book shows you the Pacific Crest Trail as if you were walking it yourself but from the comfort of your armchair. You’ll see the most beautiful stretches of trail in the wilderness, scenic vantage points, and, of course, hikers.
"BEST COFFEE TABLE BOOK OF 2016. The only book published with the Pacific Crest Trail Association (which gets a cut of the proceeds), this tome features more than 300 pages of stories, maps, and, of course, photographs. It weighs more than your pack’s base weight, but should you ever set down some roots, it’d look pretty classy on your coffee table.”
— Backpacker Magazine
The Last Englishman: Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (Keith Foskett)
The Last Englishman: Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by Keith Foskett is an engaging (English-language) memoir that takes you on the adventurous path of a British hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Foskett describes his journey with humor and sincerity, exploring in detail the physical and emotional challenges of thru-hiking on the PCT.
The book offers a vivid look at daily life on the trail, the encounters with fellow hikers, and the deep reflections that take place during such a long trek. Foskett’s narrative style takes the reader into the breathtaking landscapes of the PCT while offering insight into the personal growth that comes from dealing with the unpredictability of nature and overcoming personal limits.
Pacific Crest Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (Carly Moree and Zach Davis)
Pacific Crest Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a valuable guide written by Zach Davis and Carly Moree. The book offers an in-depth exploration of the mental and emotional challenges associated with thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. This book not only shares practical advice on equipment and planning but also emphasizes the crucial role of psychological resilience during a long-distance trip. This is something that is often forgotten.
Sharing his own experiences and those of other thru-hikers, Davis offers insights on coping with loneliness, perseverance in the tough moments, and creating a healthy mindset for a successful thru-hike. The book is a valuable resource for aspiring hikers, emphasizing the mental and emotional preparation essential to completing this challenging trek.
Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is 90% mental.
Trail of the Lost: The Relentless Search to Bring Home the Missing Hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail (Andrea Lankford)
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is not a walk in the park. Sometimes things go wrong. People get lost and there have been some fatalities over the years, which is heartbreaking. So whatever you do, stay safe! The book Trail of the Lost: The Relentless Search to Bring Home the Missing Hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail by Andrea Lankford is about the author’s search of three young men that vanished on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Frustrated with bureaucratic challenges, Lankford forms an eclectic team, including a mother, a retired manager, and a government mapmaker. Together, they navigate the complex case through missing person Facebook groups, uncovering a web of kidnappers, murderers, a cult, and more. The book explores the psychological and physical challenges of the search, highlighting determination, generosity, and hope against the backdrop of hiker culture and the vast, treacherous landscapes. “Trail of the Lost” is a beautifully written, harrowing narrative that blends true crime, adventure, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of the unknown.
From an award-winning former law enforcement park ranger and investigator, this female-driven true crime adventure follows the author’s quest to find missing hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail by pairing up with an eclectic group of unlikely allies.
The Pacific Crest Trail: A Visual Compendium (Joshua M. Powell)
Joshu M. Powells The Pacific Crest Trail: A Visual Compendium is a captivating exploration of the renowned trail, offering a unique perspective through clever infographics, modern illustrations, and insightful text. This visually stunning paperback captures the grandeur of the West Coast while delving into the intricate details noticed by thru-hikers during their 140-day journey from Mexico to Canada.
The book skillfully combines written word, graphic design, and illustration to convey both the beauty and challenges of the 2,650-mile wilderness hike. Expect engaging content, including infographics detailing trail aspects and the thru-hiker experience, along with striking illustrations depicting the landscape and intricacies of the trail. From trail markers and weather challenges to toponyms’ stories, hikers’ trail names, and even the food consumed, this compendium promises to be a delightful gift for outdoor enthusiasts, providing a comprehensive and visually appealing glimpse into the Pacific Crest Trail experience.
The Pacific Crest Trail – Hiking the PCT from Mexico to Canada (Brian Johnson)
We end this list with a very practical hiking guide. In The Pacific Crest Trail – Hiking the PCT from Mexico to Canada Brian Johnson takes you step by step on this epic trek.
The guide is divided into 101 sections of 2 to 3 days, which can be combined into longer days according to one’s ability and preference. This comprehensive guide provides all the information and maps you need as a hiker. In addition to the notes and route descriptions, there are overview maps for the entire trail and a detailed introduction that provides essential advice for planning and completing the route.
From information on packing, supplies, water, and bears to details about the mountains, flora and fauna, and regions you will encounter, this is an indispensable companion for embarking on – and completing – this adventure of a lifetime.
Review by M. Eby on Amazon.com:
Researching the PCT and like the detailed info about each section. Maps are extremely helpful, although took maps would be even better. Nice details to help plan and hike.
Happy trails! More about hiking
And, have you figured out which book about the Pacific Crest Trail you want to read first? I myself hiked the first 444 miles of the PCT in 2019 and it was an incredible experience. I made a short video of my journey, you can watch it here:
I hope to finish this amazing trail someday! In the spring of 2022, I hiked the Arizona Trail (800 miles). I wrote an extensive trail report, which you can read on this page.
In addition, you can read much more about beautiful long-distance hiking trails on this website. Check out these articles as well:
- Jura Crest Trail: an amazing long distance hike in Switzerland
- This is why you should hike the Jordan Trail: a comprehensive guide
- Hiking the Pieterpad trail in The Netherlands: the ultimate guide
Looking for more great travel tips and travel inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter.
Hi, and how nice of you to read this disclaimer! As you may understand, maintaining a website like this is not free. That is why some of the links in this article are affiliate links. If you use these links to book or buy anything, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! Support this website.