Home > Hiking Trails > Hiking the PCT into Canada

While the Pacific Crest Trail officially ends at Monument 78, on the border of the United States and Canada, many chose to continue hiking on into Manning Park on the Canadian side to end their hike. They then most often take a bus over to Vancouver from where they make their way to their final destination.

Ending in Canada, as research for my upcoming 2014 Pacific Crest Trail thru hike showed, has a couple of requirements that not everyone else planning their hike seemed to be aware of.

The first was of course the requirement for a valid passport. That one seemed like a no brainer, but even that simple requirement had a few contingencies attached. The first was that even if you were a US citizen it is illegal to hike from Canada into the United States. There is a $5,000 fine as well as up to a year in jail even if you are an honest, upstanding US citizen. That means that you couldn’t finish your thru hike in Manning Park then turn around to Yo-Yo the PCT. It also meant that if you were hiking the trail SOBO (southbound) that you couldn’t start on the Canadian side of the border. SOBO’s would have to start from the monument then hike south without ever crossing into Canada.

The second requirement was that even if you have a valid passport you would still need permission from the Canadian government to enter their country. You must fill out and submit an, “Application for Entry into Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail,” which you can obtain from the Canada Border Services Agency. This has to be done before you leave for your hike as the application can be denied if there are felony arrests on your record or even some misdemeanor crimes which Canada frowns on, i.e. DUI’s. The approved application must be on your person when you cross the Canadian border.

One complication for even people carrying both a valid passport and an approved application for entry into Canada is that the application for entry is ONLY valid on the PCT. If, let’s say due to weather complications, you are forced onto the Eastbank Trail to exit at Ross Lake the Canadian authorities have the right to lock you up.

Another complication for non-US citizens is that they have never officially left the United States. This could be a problem if they chose to fly home from Vancouver instead of continuing on to Seattle.

Before even considering all of that I had thought about simply avoiding Canada. Since I would be on a budget I thought I would forget about purchasing a passport that wouldn’t get much use besides this one little hike into Canada. I thought that would save me $135 or so but even that turned out not to be true. If you do NOT currently hold a valid Passport Book or Card, which I do not, you can purchase an Adult Passport Card for $30 plus a $25 execution fee. This would get me into and out of Canada.

So maybe I will get a Passport Card and fill out the application for entry into Canada just in case I change my mind later. But for right now the idea of hiking the 34 miles back to Harts Pass to hitchhike back to civilization sounds easier.

Besides which I have never been to Seattle.

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YOU MIGHT BE HIKER TRASH IF…
May 30, 2013 - New York City

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