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Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail
Pacific Crest Trail in the Cascade Mountain Range.

The Pacific Crest Trail is a wilderness trail in the western United States. It runs from the Canadian border in Washington to the Mexican border in California.

The Pacific Crest Trail follows the crest of two large mountain ranges—the Cascade Range in the states of Washington and Oregon and the Sierra Nevada Range in California. When the trail leaves the Sierra Nevada Range it passes through the Mojave Desert.

The highest point along the Pacific Crest Trail is Forester Pass near Mount Whitney in California. Forester Pass is 13,180 feet (4,017 m) above sea level. The lowest point on the trail is Cascade Locks on the Hood River in Oregon. Cascade Locks is 140 feet (43 m) above sea level.

Outstanding landmarks visible along the Pacific Crest Trail starting from the north include:

  • Mount Rainer, also known as Tahoma, is the largest stratovolcano in the Cascade Range.
  • Mount Adams, also known as Pahto, is the second-highest mountain after Mount Rainer; it is an active volcano but has not erupted in more than 1,000 years.
  • Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River that is up to 4,000 feet deep; it forms the border between Washington and Oregon states.
  • Crater Lake is a lake in south-central Oregon that was formed by the collapse of a volcano 7,000 years ago.
  • Mount Shasta is a potentially active volcano at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Northern California.
  • Yosemite Valley is a glacial valley in the western Sierra Nevada mountains of Central California. A famous section of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs through the Yosemite region is the John Muir Trail.
  • Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada range; it rises 14,505 feet above sea level.
  • The Mojave Desert is the driest desert in North America; this desert includes Death Valley which is the lowest elevation in North America.
Mojave desert trail
The Pacific Crest Trail in the Mojave desert.

Animals living along the Pacific Crest Trail include black bears, coyotes, elk, deer, foxes, raccoons, and a wide variety of birds including quail, hawks, and eagles. Trees along the trail include cedars, hemlocks, giant sequoias, and ponderosa pines. Plants growing along the trail in the desert include mesquites and cacti.

The Pacific Crest Trail passes through seven different national parks and several more wilderness areas and national forests. It is 2,650 miles (4,265 km) long. It is the second-longest trail in the United States, after the North Country Trail which is 4,600 miles long and stretches from Vermont to North Dakota.

Also of interest:

Giant Sequoia

Bristlecone Pine

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