For More Info Call:  503-946-3404

Oregon Pacific Crest Trail Backpacking & Service - (Ages 18+)

Photo Credit: Brandon Sharpe
Photo Credit: Brandon Sharpe
Photo Credit: Trevor McKee
Photo Credit: Trevor McKee
Photo Credit: Christopher Tran

Course Details

    Location: Oregon
    Activities: Backpacking, Mountaineering
    Tuition & Fees: $4295
    Financial Aid Available: Yes

This 28-day backpacking and service course is designed to prepare and train you to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and other long distance hiking trails on your own. It is also designed so that if you desire, after course you can continue north on the PCT all the way to Canada. 

Available Courses

  • Available DatesCourse LengthAgeCourse Number
    8/14/2016 - 9/10/201628 daysWOAB-661Reserve Your Spot TodayLearn More

  • Questions? Call (503) 946-3404 for more information.

How to Enroll

Steps to becoming a Northwest Outward Bound course paricipant:
Step one: Complete the online enrollment by clicking on Reserve Your Spot Today (above), or call to enroll (866-467-7651 or 503-946-3404, option 3).
Step two: You will receive a personalized Registration E-Mail from your Course Advisor within 48 hours.
Step three: Complete the paperwork that we have directed you to on this website.
Step four: We may need a couple of weeks to review your enrollment packet and approve your participation.

Enrollment Packet & Course Information

Enrollment Packet Deadline Policy: All applicants must adhere to the due dates listed in their Registration E-Mail. If you are unable to meet the requested deadlines, please be sure to contact your This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Otherwise, your spot on the course will be opened up to another student.


Physician Exam Form

Admissions & Enrollment Policies

Note: Supplemental Forms may apply if we need more specific information about you. Refer to your Registration e-mail to determine which supplemental forms are required for your enrollment packet.

This section contains details that are key to the specific course you have enrolled on. This information will come in handy when packing, planning, and preparing for the adventure you have chosen. Please read these documents CAREFULLY and contact your Course Advisor if you have any questions.


Travel Information

Gear & Footwear

Attending Outward Bound

Information on Completing & Returning Forms

Course Preparation & Physical Fitness

Supplemental Forms

Refer to your Registration E-Mail to determine if any of the following forms are required for your enrollment process. AGAIN, note the DUE DATE in your Registration E-Mail.

The Northwest Outward Bound School offers financial assistance in the form of Needs-Based Scholarships. The scholarships typically do not exceed 1/2 of the base cost. In order to receive an award offer, you will have to enroll in your chosen course, go through the enrollment and medical screening process and be officially cleared for participation on the course. There is a $500 deposit that must be paid at the time of enrollment, which is refundable if your scholarship award does not meet your needs. Please note that all scholarship applicants are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and awards are strictly based on need and scholarship money availability. The application form is available below. Please contact Skye Clifford (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) if you have any questions regarding the Needs-Based Scholarships, and/or other questions regarding financing for your course.

Need-Based Scholarship Application

Course Description

This 28-day backpacking and service course is designed to prepare and train you to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and other long distance hiking trails on your own. It is also designed so that if you desire, after course you can continue north on the PCT all the way to Canada.

Learn ultra-light philosophies, navigation, resupply, budgeting, and logistical strategies that will prepare you for your future hike while traveling through some of Oregon’s most stunning and varied landscapes. At various points along the trail, learn more about trail maintenance, land stewardship and the PCT itself as you participate in a variety of service projects in coordination with the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

Although there are plenty of opportunities for rest and reflection during the course, this is the challenge of a lifetime, with four weeks of skill development, backcountry living and physical and mental demands. Depending on the group fitness level, your crew could complete close to 300 miles of the PCT. This course is designed to accommodate all skill levels but is geared toward those who are interested in building skill sets for a section hike or thru hike of any long distance hiking trail.


Backpacking Section (25 days)

The backpacking section of this course focuses on moving lightly and efficiently along the PCT. Students learn skills such as using lightweight backpacking gear, navigation, campcraft, Leave No Trace and hiker etiquette, diet and trail safety. Each day presents a different focus, with ample time for experiential learning. The instructor-to-student ratio is never more than 1:5 during this course, allowing for personal coaching along the trail, as well as catering the curriculum to the specific interests and aptitudes of individual course participants. During three days of preparation at the Outward Bound base camp you will get to work with guest speakers who have each logged over 10,000 individual trail miles.

Service – Service is an integral part of the Outward Bound curriculum. We encourage service to the environment in the form of leaving campsites cleaner than we find them and practicing Leave No Trace ethics throughout the course. We coordinate service projects with land managers (US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, local land trusts, etc.) as well as with select social service agencies (food banks, community gardens, etc...). During your course, you may have the opportunity to participate in a trail work or other service project.

Solo – A one- or two-night solo provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition. With sufficient food and equipment, you’ll spend time alone at an assigned campsite to rest, reflect, and practice the camp craft skills you have been learning throughout the course. We choose your solo site to offer as much solitude as possible, within hearing distance of other group members. You will not travel during this time and your instructors will check on you occasionally, but you will be mostly alone for the duration of your solo. Many students are initially nervous about solo, but most are ready for a rest and a break from the group when the time for solo arrives. Solo length is based on length of course, weather, student condition, and instructor preference.

Final Expedition – Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. In order to deliver that benefit, Outward Bound purposefully and gradually transfers certain leadership responsibilities to the students culminating with our “Final Expedition.” Near the end of course—if you and your group have demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem solving and wilderness living skill—you may be given the opportunity to travel without your instructors immediately present. During the final expedition, instructors maintain overall risk-management for the group with check-ins and advanced scouting. Many of our students feel this phase of the course was the most rewarding, as the group learns to work as a team, problem solve, and accomplish a goal independently, while utilizing all the skills they have acquired.

Final Challenge Event – We typically end our courses with a Final Challenge Event—an individual final physical push. This might take the form of a run or a triathlon-style challenge.

Thru Hiking
Thru hiking is a term used in referring to hikers who complete long distance trails from end-to-end in a single trip. The Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail were the first three long-distance trails in the U.S.. Successfully thru-hiking all three trails is known as the Triple Crown of Hiking. Thru-hiking is a four to six-month commitment that requires thorough preparation and dedication. Although the actual number is difficult to calculate, it is estimated that around 180 out of 300 people who attempt a thru-hike complete the entire trail each year. The Pacific Crest Trail Association estimates that it takes most hikers between six and eight months to plan their trip. One of the goals of this course is to give those who are interested in taking on this challenge (whether section hiking or thru hiking) the skills and confidence they need to safely succeed.

Your Instructors
Expect to be mentored by accomplished and experienced Outward Bound Instructors who have thru hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. We will cater to your learning style and meet you at the level you are at physically and technically. Our goal is to give you the knowledge and confidence you need to be successful on your future hike and every instructor is personally committed to your development, enjoyment, and success.

Expect to…

  • Build core skills: Learn and practice technical backpacking, wilderness, and leadership skills. Then exercise them individually as your progression builds and you experience segments of independent travel. Form a crew that supports and encourages one another, and in the thick of challenges, discover there is more in you than you know.
  • Practice Outward Bound values: Learn to incorporate Outward Bound values into everyday life by pushing your own limits and seeking challenge as an opportunity for personal growth. Although you will experience some town visits and rest near popular resorts, expect to stay within alignment of Outward Bounds no drug, alcohol, or tobacco policy.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As the course progresses, take on more leadership and decision-making responsibilities. Work to apply new skills after being closely guided and mentored by your instructors.
  • What you’ll learn:  Unlike classic Outward Bound courses, we will embrace the rise in technological developments that have assisted in navigation and map data by using popular Smartphone applications and other important resources you will use on your future hike. Expect to have three group preparation days at the Outward Bound base camp where we will build resupply boxes, go over popular logistical strategies, and deliver a variety of workshops surrounding gear, diet, safety, hygiene, self-care, pace, hiker etiquette, and community building. Return home a stronger, more resilient individual that is ready to take on your own trail. Discover increased self-confidence, improved leadership, and a desire to make a difference.
  • Keep Walking: After hiking over 300 miles of the PCT in Oregon and ending at Cascades Locks (the Oregon/Washington border) you will have the opportunity to continue your adventure north through Washington. Buy the gear you have come to love and understand at Wholesale and reduced prices to set yourself up for success for a seamless transition into your independent journey.


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