Above: Views of Jack Mountain and the North Cascades from the Devils Ridge Trail/ PNT. Photo by Michael Sawiel.
Pacific Northwest Trail Maps
Official maps of the Pacific Northwest Trail produced by the PNTA are free for non-commercial use. The PNTA mapset is revised annually and is created in cooperation with local land management agencies and other partners to provide the most comprehensive information available for the Pacific Northwest Trail.
Navigation is Challenging on the PNT
Carrying multiple navigation tools and having the knowledge to use them is essential on the PNT. Even experienced backpackers are surprised by how challenging it can be to traverse compared to longer established National Scenic Trails.
Map and Navigation FAQ
- What makes the trail difficult to follow?
- Why is the PNT so rugged?
- What about third party maps and user generated routes?
- Congressional, primary or alternate, which is the real PNT?
- How can I order a set of printed maps from PNTA?
- Where can I learn more about bushwhacking and scrambling?
- Where can I learn about trail closures and detours?
New for 2019, the PNTA has produced a set of Overview Maps for the Pacific Northwest Trail. These larger scale maps are designed to be used with PNTA Strip Maps to aid in trip planning. Use these maps to explore the trail before you go and to “choose your adventure” from the many popular alternate routes along the 1200 mile trail corridor. The 2019 mapset also describes the PNT as 50 consecutive stages to make it simpler to compare mileage between routes.
The PNTA mapset is revised annually and includes an 144 page set of Strip Maps for use in navigating the trail. New for 2019, it also includes a set of section Overview Maps. All official and popular alternate routes are included as well as detailed page notes which describe trail conditions and promote responsible trail use, Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics and land manager regulations.
Using multiple navigation tools is essential on the Pacific Northwest Trail. PNTA maps are designed to be used with companion resources, like The Pacific Northwest Trail Digest, an essential tool for every aspiring thru-hiker. While critical notes are included on the PNTA Strip Maps, guidebook author, Tim Youngbluth provides supplemental information to help in navigation, route choice decisions, resupply and much more.
New for the 2018 season, Guthook’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest Trail is a map-based hiking app which can turn your smartphone into a powerful navigation tool. The official hiking app of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association is produced through a partnership with Atlas Guides to deliver the most up-to-date information about our dynamic trail corridor.
Maps of the Pacific Northwest Trail on our National Parks
National Geographic Maps
National Geographic Trail Illustrated Maps can be extremely useful for navigating the PNT on our National Parks and adjacent National Forests. These large scale maps can supplement your navigation toolset with trail and topographic information for a much a larger area around the PNT trail corridor than our PNTA strip maps show. Please note that these maps may not show popular alternate routes of the PNT.
NPS Backcountry Trip Planning Maps
National Park Service maps of the backcountry campsites along the PNT on our National Parks can be found at the links below. These maps are very useful in trip and backcountry permit planning.
Maps of the PNT on our National Forests
Maps of the PNT on our National Forests can be found at the links below. Please note that the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail may not be called out on these maps. In some cases, the trail corridor may only be referred to by a local trail name (i.e. Kettle Crest Trail #13).
Maps of the PNT on other Public Lands
Maps of the Pacific Northwest Trail on state, county, and municipal lands can be found at the links below. Please note that the congressional route or popular alternate routes of the PNT may not be indicated on these trail maps. In some cases, the trail corridor may only be referred to by a local trail name.
- Washington DNR Trail Maps
- Blanchard Mountain State Forest
- Deception Pass State Park Maps
- Cascade Rail Trail Map – 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 – Olympic Discovery Trail
- Olympic Discovery Trail
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the Pacific Northwest Trail so rugged?
Of America’s eleven National Scenic Trails the PNT is among the newest. It earned federal designation very recently, in 2009.
Each long-distance trail has its own story that chronicles how it transformed from an idea into to a more refined and continuous pathway. Advocacy work by the PNTA, financial support from our members, and countless weekends spent working on the trail by dedicated volunteers, are all part of story that unfolds across generations.
This chapter in the story of the PNT is a familiar one; it’s very similar to the stories of the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails, which earned federal designation fifty years ago, when the National Trails System Act of 1968 was first established. Like they originally were, the PNT has largely been cobbled together from a network of pre-existing hiking trails through the backcountry; but also: bike paths, old rail beds, dirt roads, paved roads, bushwhacks, cow paths, and beaches.
Today, the PNT offers an experience that may be more challenging and rugged than it will be a generation from now. Until then, making the effort to be fully prepared for an adventure on the PNT is key to having a safe and enjoyable trip.
What makes the PNT difficult to follow?
At this early stage of development, the current route of the PNT offers the following navigation challenges:
- Bushwhacking through dense forests where no trail exists
- Mixed Class 2 and 3 scrambles in rocky areas
- Confusing networks of mapped and unmapped logging roads
- Following overgrown connector trails and forest roads
- Following trails which may not have been recently maintained
- Most of the PNT is not blazed or marked with signage
You can learn more about the challenges of wilderness navigation on the PNT, here.
What About Third Party Maps and User Generated Routes?
While the PNTA works toward solving routing issues on the PNT, we remind our trail’s users that they are effectively acting as ambassadors for the trail.
The route shown on the PNTA’s mapset and on our official hiking app, produced through a partnership by Atlas Guides, describes the current route of the Pacific Northwest Trail. In some areas, easier, or more direct options may exist on the ground, but access is not guaranteed. These kinds of user-generated routes may inadvertently cross significant portions of private property where no easements or land use agreements are in place. If routes that involve trespassing are promoted within the trail community, via third party maps or user generated routes, it erodes goodwill for the trail and weakens our position to negotiate for the ideal trail corridor of the PNT.
Official PNTA maps and hiking apps protect the Pacific Northwest Trail by sharing important rules and regulations of local land managers. They also encourage responsible use by communicating the Leave No Trace Seven Principles as applied to the Pacific Northwest Trail.
Congressional, primary or alternate, which is the real PNT?
The PNTA’s strip maps show multiple route options. The PNT is a relatively young trail in comparison to the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail and is therefore still in a period of growth and change. The terminology can be confusing.
Ron Strickland’s original full length guidebook describes both a Practical route (one possible to hike at the time of writing) and suggestions for an Ideal route that could be built in the future to fulfill his vision for the ultimate hiking experience.
The Congressional route is the one officially designated by Congress in 2009 when the PNT became a National Scenic Trail.
The Primary route is the route which the Pacific Northwest Trail Association, in partnership with local land managers, has developed in the time since, in order to address practical issues on the ground.
Alternate routes are routes which may have been part of the vision for the trail at one point, or they may simply be other ways for hikers to get to the same place, developed to address closures or other trail conditions. In other cases, alternate routes may be better trails for horse riders where the main route is impassable or closed to stock.
The PNT is still in the process of change. We continuously advocate for opportunities to create a better experience for trail users so that the future trail is safer, more enjoyable, and exceeds the expectations of a National Scenic Trail.
How can I order a set of printed maps from PNTA?
The PNTA mapset is produced in part with the support of people like you!
The Association offers our strip maps and other resources for free to the public in order to improve access to our public lands. Our mapset helps fulfill our mission to protect the Pacific Northwest Trail with easy-to-read page notes that promote responsible trail use and Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics.
For a limited time each spring, PNTA offers hard copy maps at bulk production cost to our new and renewing members. It’s our way of saying, “thanks” for helping to make our work possible. PNTA members can take advantage of the convenience and cost savings of high-quality, locally sourced, bulk-printed maps.
Home and commercial printing tips
Commercial printing instructions:
First, download the zip files from the section you need or download the entire trail corridor as a single zip file. Due to their high resolution, these maps can be printed full size at 11″ x 14″ or at 8.5″ x 11.”
Some thru-hikers use a commercial printer to produce their maps. Be sure to inquire about water-resistant paper options and consider double-sided printing to save carried weight.
Home printing instructions:
For letter size paper (8.5″ x 11″), download and unzip the file and open in the latest version of Adobe Acrobat. In the print dialog box for ‘Page Sizing & Handling,’ select either Fit or Custom Scale, and set the value to 52%. Under ‘Orientation,’ select Auto Portrait/ Landscape.
Questions about the PNTA’s map set can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to calculate mileage using PNTA Strip Maps
PNTA strip maps show each of the 10 sections of the Pacific Northwest Trail separately. Our maps and the most accurate guidebook for the PNT, Tim Youngbluth’s PNT Digest, reference a common set of GPS waypoints. These waypoints, are called out on the maps with the distance from the eastern terminus in Montana (the trailhead where the PNT starts or ends) to a given point on the trail to the west (ex. 0000P).
For example, Oyster Dome falls in the Chuckanut Mountains in Section 7, page 090. Cape Alava is on the Pacific Coast in Section 10, page 122. To get the (approximate) mileage between these points, you can subtract the westbound mileage at Oyster Dome (about 923 miles) from the mileage of the trail at Cape Alava (1,217 miles). If you were to hike along the Pacific Northwest Trail between those points, taking the red or official route shown on the maps, the distance would be about 294 miles.
To learn the mileage of resupply points and major destinations on the PNT, view this chart.
Did You Know? At the west end of the Oyster Dome Trail, “West to the Pacific Ocean – 223 Miles,” is engraved on an historic trail marker–this historic sign is evidence of the many refinements to the trail corridor of the PNT over four decades.