How to Train for the Pacific Crest Trail


I have been frantically reading blogs, forums, and Facebook feeds in preparation for taking off on the Pacific Crest Trail in less than four months (wow!). The one topic that seems to get overlooked is how to train. So just how does one train for the Pacific Crest Trail?

I am usually of the mindset that if I don’t plan anything and hardly prepare, trips (and life) will take care of themselves. My lackluster training regimen seemed to do fine for my 4,000-mile bicycle trip three years ago, for walking half way across Spain two years ago, and for cycling 201 miles in a day this year.

However, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail will be different. It is five months of walking nearly twenty miles nearly every day. That’s huge. And so, I’m trying to start out on the right foot.


As I hate traditional gyms (and yes, it is a strong word, and yes, I do mean it!), I belong to my kind of gym: the Seattle Bouldering Project. At least twice a week I head there for an hour to clamber around on man-made rocks. Bouldering inside is great for a few things:

  1. Pure joy.
  2. Arm, forearm, finger, back, and core strength — which will be important for carrying a pack (not the finger part!).
  3. Problem solving abilities.
  4. Overcoming mental hangups (the thing I imagine will help most on the trip).

Calves and Thighs

Strengthening my calves, thighs, and ankles is super important — especially as I am not outside as much as I am in the non-winter weather. My every-other day routine is 100 calf raises and 100 squats. For the calves, I just bob up and down on the stairs. For the squats, I try my best to keep my knees aligned and tracking properly. I like to get these simple workouts in while watching New Girl or Criminal Minds or listening to one of my many podcast obsessions.

I also take every chance I get to climb the stairs, stand on my tippy toes, and walk on uneven ground. Every little bit helps! Unfortunately, it may be helping too much, as I recently have found that my pant size has gone up — because my thighs are too big now!


This one is pretty obvious… I typically spend one day of my week wandering around in the woods with Avry. We spend most of our time on rolling hikes where we keep our speed up. We have started introducing weight — I’ll be training with around 20 to 25 pounds in my pack. But no more than that, as that is when my knees start to get super angry. While training with weight, it is to use trekking poles, so I make sure I have them with me on every hike.


I somehow subscribed to Yoga Magazine last year, and I found the perfect hiking poses in this month’s magazine. Erin Hardy kicks ass in these simple poses, which are just as good for hiking as they might be for snowboarding (I have no way of knowing as I have never tried!).

Check It

My favorite is chair pose on the balls of my feet. Ouch!

Am I missing anything? Tell me how you train in the comments below.