'Wild' Movie Boosts Number of PCT Hikers

Thru-hike permit requests up 300 percent

Jan 20, 2015
Outside Magazine
pacific crest trail wild cheryl strayed reese witherspoon hiking

In 2006, 300 people attempted to walk the entire Pacific Crest Trail. In 2014, more than 1,000 people tried it.    Miguel Vieira/Flickr

Since the December release of the Hollywood hiking film Wild, an unprecedented number of enthusiastic hikers have applied for permits to trek along the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, the AP reports.

The film, starring Reese Witherspoon, is based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of hiking the PCT as a recovering drug addict and recent divorcee in an effort to find solace. The backpacking route stretches from Manning Provincial Park, Canada, to Campo, California, near the Mexican border.

In November, Outside noted a 30 percent bump in long-distance hikers on the PCT following the 2012 release of Stayed’s book. Earlier this month, Pacific Crest Trail Association trail information specialist Jack Haskel told the AP that “the movie seems to have had a much bigger effect.” Whereas 300 people attempted to walk the entire route in 2006, more than 1,000 hikers set out on a thru-hike in 2014. About half made it.

“This past December, compared to last year, our website traffic went up 300 percent,” he said. “Wild is the largest media event ever for the PCT, and millions are hearing about it now and are being inspired.”

With Strayed’s support, the Pacific Crest Trail Association has launched a campaign to promote “leave no trace” practices, including burying human waste, building safe campfires, and packing out trash. The campaign uses the hashtag #responsiblywild on Twitter.

“There are a whole lot of people that are going to be inspired to hit the PCT because of Wild,” Haskel said. “We really care about making sure that people are traveling safely.”

Not Now

Open a World of Adventure

Our Dispatch email delivers the stories you can’t afford to miss.

Thank you!