Continue to Allow Trail Running Events on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

Continue to Allow Trail Running Events on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

March 11, 2015
Petition to
Executive Director for the PCTA Pacific Crest Trail Association and 1 other
Petition Closed
This petition had 3,822 supporters

Why this petition matters

Started by Candice Burt

The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is lobbying and advising the USDA Forest Service to ban trail running events on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This means that if the PCTA has their way, no new trail running events and no growth of existing events will be allowed on the PCT. This endangers established trail running events as a change in policy prohibiting new events makes legal precedence for existing event permits to be denied. The PCTA has already gotten the Forest Service to deny new trail running event permits and cap others without any proof that trail running events have a negative impact on the trail, other users, or the environment. The Pacific Crest Trail is part of a larger development of National Scenic Trails, that have been created, “To provide for the ever-increasing outdoor recreation needs of an expanding population" (Source: 

UPDATE: Thanks to your grassroots action, the PCTA has gone public with their stance on trail events, "PCTA does not support adding new race events or expanding the size of current events. PCTA will continue to work with land managers and our partners to protect the trail experience." --from

What is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)?

The PCT is a trail that runs all the way from Mexico to Canada traversing the entire West Coast, more than 2,650 miles. It's part of a group of trails designated as National Scenic Trails.  Without use of this trail for trail runners, trail running events that we love on the West Coast are in jeopardy. As trail runners, we believe that the natural spaces and the trails that traverse them should be protected from commercial endeavors that damage the environment, however, trail running events are low impact, just like hiking, and are another way for people to experience nature and the beauty of the land. Trail running events are essential to trail running and many give back countless hours in trail work and donate money back to the trails. 

What is the PCTA?

The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is a special interest group that advocates for hikers and equestrians. In 2013, they received over $1 million in federal grants for maintenance of trails, operations and management. The PCTA receives federal funding every year.

The PCTA's Mission is to "preserve and promote the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as a world-class experience for hikers and equestrians." If trail runners want their point of view considered, they must petition the US Forest Service and PCTA to consider it. The PCTA is important, they are advocates for the trail and they work tirelessly to keep it cared for and to make sure that sections that are privately owned stay part of the route, let's help them understand that trail runners and trail running events improve the trails though trail work, donations, and being a low impact sport. 


Can hikers, equestrians, and runners all share the trail? An example of a trail organization that cares about all its users, the Arizona National Scenic Trail and the Arizona Trail Association have been encouraging trail running events on the AZT for the past four years with great success. It helps bring together more members of the outdoor community for:

1) Increased appreciation of a National Scenic Trail

2) More volunteers and donors for organizations like the ATA or PCTA

3) Positive economic impacts to local communities

Currently, the ATA organizes and encourages numerous trail running events on the Arizona Trail. Both the USDA Forest Service, local communities and the trail organization have benefitted from it.

We propose that trail running events be allowed to use the PCT on a case by case basis, as they have been in the past.

The Forest Service already goes through exhaustive efforts to review and permit trail running events. Race Directors must have plans in place for sanitation, clean up, medical, and every step of the way consider how their event affects other trail users.  The permitting process will never allow events to go through wilderness areas, they are protected by congress and the permitting process with the USFS would never allow it. Most of the Pacific Crest Trail is on National Forests, not wilderness. As such, it’s designated as recreational land. 

We believe that environmentally sustainable participatory events that take into account a trails "carrying capacity" should be allowed on the PCT whether they are new or have been around for decades. Trail running events give people the opportunity to enjoy the PCT with very little environmental impact as well as providing them with a safe and supported way to traverse the trail. We believe that the PCT should be open to more than just hikers and equestrians. The PCTA's lobbying of the Forest Service to deny permits for events on the PCT is denying trail runners the option to run a supported event, even if said event only uses short segments of the PCT itself.

We would like the Forest Service and PCTA to consider recreational applications for trail running events on the PCT that are in line with these important rules:

1. Events must be environmentally friendly: Trash and waste (including human #2 waste) will be disposed of at aid stations only in proper receptacles. Human waste will be bagged and carried to aid stations where the race will then properly dispose of it. Events will have recycle containers at all aid stations and the start /finish for recyclables.

2. Events take into account a trail's carrying capacity. This means that race directors and the landowners they get permits through (Forest Service, etc) will allow the number of entrants that is best for the trail and other users. In most cases, on single track trails, this means 300 or fewer runners. When the event begins on roads (either paved or dirt) and allows runners to spread out over an appropriate distance, numbers could potentially be higher with very little impact on other users and the trail/land itself. 

3. Participants understand that they are sharing the trail with all other users, that they will only leave trash in designated receptacles, and that they will carry out any #2 waste for disposal at aid station locations. 

4. Race directors will choose sites for aid stations and start/finish that have minimal impact on other users and allow for ample parking.

To further support our efforts to open the PCTA to trail running events, please call and email the following numbers and let them know that you want to be able to do environmentally friendly trail running events on the PCT:

Liz Bergeron, Executive Director for the PCTA
Phone: 916-285-1846

Mike Dawson, Trail Operations Director
Phone: 206-463-9087


Beth Boyst, the Pacific Crest Trail Administrator for the USDA Forest Service.  Email: Phone: (707) 562-8881

Post how you feel about the PCTA's stance on trail events on their Facebook Page:

Comment on their post about not supporting new trail events or growth in existing events:

For more information on this issue you can read an article I wrote for American Trail Running Association: ;

Podcast discussing the issues: ;

Thank you for supporting efforts to keep environmentally sustainable trail running events on the West Coast!


Petition Closed

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Decision Makers

  • Pacific Crest Trail AssociationExecutive Director for the PCTA
  • United States Forest ServicePacific Crest Trail Administrator for the USDA Forest Service