PCT Hiker takes a break. Photo courtesy bigbearhostel.com.

Big Bear City, CA, February 23, 2014 – The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile hiking trail stretching from the Mexican border to Canada that passes through Big Bear Valley. The trail officially begins in Campo, California, and this year’s annual kickoff party will be held April 25-26th. The average hiker will take 10 days to make the 180-mile journey to Baldwin Lake, where the trail crosses Highway 18.

A PCT “Thru-hiker” is someone trying to do the whole route. They carry everything they need to camp and eat for a week or two at a time, then make pit stops along the way to pick up resupply boxes they’ve arranged in advance to have mailed to themselves.

Ron Ward, the Postmaster at the Big Bear City Post Office, estimates his staff handles at least 200 PCT packages a year, the majority in the spring. On his daily commute, Ward passes Baldwin Lake, so he’ll give hikers rides into town and back to the trail.

Fire Station 282 (301 W. Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear City) lets PCT hikers shower and store some of their gear.

For those wanting a break from the trail, two local mainstays are the Stanik’s Nature’s Inn on Greenway Drive, and Big Bear Hostel on Knickerbocker Road–both of which accommodate 300 or more hikers a year.

Hostel Manager Richard Foley–a sectional hiker himself whose trail name is Sarge–says they offer free package storage and rides to and from the trail, with most of the activity concentrated from mid-May to the end of June. Most of their PCT guests are overnighters, staying just long enough to grab a shower and treat their backs to a mattress. But about a quarter of the visitors stay a few days. Foley says, “It’s the town. They fall in love with Big Bear. And since it’s a community environment, it gives them a place to congregate and talk about the trail.”