The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail travels through many different public and private lands. You can help to protect our natural resources and the quality of the experience for all users of the PNT.
Practice Leave No Trace and “Know Before You Go” by learning the regulations of the area you are visiting before your trip.
The PNT on our National Forests
There are no fees for overnight backcountry camping on the PNT in any of the seven National Forests. Some cabins and lookouts along the trail can be reserved in advance for a modest fee. National Forest campgrounds may also charge a fee for overnight camping.
When choosing a backcountry campsite on our National Forests, always follow the regulations of the local land manager and Leave No Trace principles. You can learn regulations specific to the area, before your trip on USFS websites, visiting ranger stations, and reading posted information at trailhead kiosks.
Parking a vehicle at trailhead in a National Forest in Washington will typically require a Northwest Forest Pass.
The interagency America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is honored nationwide at all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard amenity fees. The Interagency Annual Pass is $80 for a year pass and is available to the general public.
The Seven National Forests on the PNT
Permits and our National Parks
Camping is allowed only in designated sites in these National Parks; dispersed camping is not allowed. These permit systems help protect the PNT, and the experience for you and other visitors.
Getting Backcountry Permits
Permits must be obtained before your trip on the PNT in our National Parks. Policies and fees for permits vary between parks. Some permits may be reserved by making advance reservations, others must be made or obtained in person at specific Ranger Stations.
The chart below has general information about permitting. Please visit each National Park’s website for the most current information about permits and reservations using the links provided.
“Wilderness Camping Permits are used to track the numbers of visitors in different areas in order to prevent overcrowding and damage. Wilderness permits are also used to locate overdue or lost parties; as well as in case of a family emergency. If you have not filled out a permit, searchers may not know where to start looking for you.” – Olympic National Park
Backcountry Permits on the PNT
|Advance Registration Available?||Camping Fees||Permit Issued|
|Glacier NP||yes, online for a $40 fee, starting March, 15th. Limit of 16 miles per day on advance reservation applications. Higher mileages allowed for walk-in applicants only.||$7/ night||at six permitting locations, including the Polebridge and Two Medicine Ranger stations|
|North Cascades NP||yes, online for a $20 fee, March, 15th – April, 15th||free||at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount or by phone (for long-distance hikers only)|
|Olympic NP||yes, online starting March, 18th||$8/ night||at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles or by phone (for long-distance hikers only)|
Fees and Reservations in the National Parks
|PNT Campsites||Site Availability||Vehicle Entrance Fees|
|Glacier NP||sites must be reserved by permit –
camping allowed in designated sites only
|50% of sites reserved for walk-in||$20-$35|
|North Cascades NP||sites must be reserved by permit –
camping allowed in designated sites only
|40% of sites are reserved for walk-in||free|
|Olympic NP||sites must be reserved by permit –
camping allowed in designated sites only
|0 – 50% reserved for walk-in, depending on area||$25-$30|
Permits for PNT Thru-hikers
Long-Distance hiking Permits Are Not Available for the PNT
Long-distance hiking permits are not available for the PNT, but obtaining the permits needed for thru-hiking the PNT is still relatively simple.
At this time, there is no coordinated permit available (like what is offered for the Pacific Crest Trail) for Pacific Northwest Trail thru-hikers. Long-distance hikers must contact each of the three national parks directly to obtain backcountry camping permits and reserve specific campsites. Other than the three national parks, all other permits required are available via free self-registration at trailhead kiosks along the way.
Special Accommodations for Thru-Hikers
To assist thru-hikers who are traveling on foot, and can not easily visit permit-issuing ranger stations, North Cascades and Olympic National Parks make a special exception to allow PNT thru-hikers to make reservations by phone.
To apply for a permit in North Cascades NP, PNT thru-hikers may call the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount at: 360-854-7245. Thru-hikers who choose to make advance reservations online must call the WIC to activate their permit by 11am the first day of the reserved itinerary, or the sites will be released to others.
To apply for a permit in Olympic NP, PNT thru-hikers may call call the WIC in Port Angeles at: 360-565-3100. New for 2019: advance reservations are available online. More information about the program will be released before March 18th, when the season opens.
Always show respect for park staff and this special courtesy by calling no later than one hour before closing. Keep in mind that ranger stations can be extremely busy during peak season—before calling, have an itinerary ready and other resources on hand to help plan your trip, like a backcountry trip planning map. Be aware that your first choice may already be reserved and you should be flexible and prepared with a back-up itinerary with alternate sites and dates, just in case.
“Backcountry permits protect your wilderness experience by preventing overcrowding at camps or climbing routes, providing for opportunities for solitude and a quality backcountry experience, and protecting natural resources so that all visitors – including future generations – can enjoy them. Permits also serve an important safety function in the event of an emergency or wildfire, and allow Park managers to gather data important for planning and decision making. Thanks for doing your part to help steward these important wilderness resources.” – North Cascades National Park
State, City & County Lands
Washington State Forests and Parks require a Discover Pass to park at trailheads and access recreation sites by vehicle.
State forest campgrounds and backcountry sites along the PNT, such as the Loomis State Forest in Eastern Washington and the Blanchard Forest, in the Chuckanut Mountains are first-come, first-served, and are free to use.
Those visiting Washington State Parks by vehicle are required to have a Discover Pass or to pay an entrance fee. All of the Washington State Parks along the Pacific Northwest Trail, except for Joseph Whidbey State Park, have fee-based camping facilities and take advance reservations online. Note that Deception Pass State Park in the Puget Sound, is Washington’s most popular state park and sites are limited during the peak season. Walk-up hiker/ biker sites may be available at the Cranberry Lake Campground west of the PNT. More sites are available nearer the PNT at the Quarry Pond Campground at mile 971 (see park brochure and map).
Other Public Lands
Loomis State Forest
Loomis Natural Resource Conservation Area
Harry Osborne-Les Hilde State Forest
Alger State Forest
Blanchard Mountain State Forest
Jefferson State Forest
Olympic State Forest
Willy-Huel State Forest
Cascade Trail – Skagit County Parks and Rec.
Squires Lake Park – Whatcom County Parks and Rec.
Padilla Bay Shore Trail – Skagit County Parks and Rec.
City of Anacortes Community Forest Lands
Larry Scott Trail and ODT – Jefferson County Parks and Rec.
Fees for Vehicles and Campgrounds
Parking a vehicle at trailhead in a National Forest will typically require a Northwest Forest Pass. Washington State Forests and Parks require a Discover Pass to park at trailheads and recreation sites.
Those visiting National Parks and Washington State Parks by using a vehicle are typically required to pay an entrance fee.
State Park and National Forest campgrounds typically charge a fee for overnight camping.