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Women Thru-Hiker Experiences on the Pacific Crest Trail: Gender Influences, Factors of Success, and Personal Outcomes

Isis Howard, Marni Goldenberg


This study investigates gender influences, factors of success, and personal outcomes for women Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru-hikers. Female underrepresentation has been acknowledged in adventure literature for decades, yet research exploring women’s thru-hike experiences remains limited and rarely focuses on PCT hikers. To expand this knowledge base, researchers conducted 23 in-depth interviews with PCT thru-hikers who identified as women. Independent coders analyzed the qualitative data and recorded emergent themes via thematic coding. Findings indicate women PCT hikers perceive gender constructs and masculine trail culture as primary constraints to thru-hiking and personal mentality as a key factor of success. Additionally, themes identify shifts in personal values, lifestyle, and career as outcomes of the thru-hike. The results reiterate that social behavior and gender constructs influence women’s experiences with thruhiking, ultimately underscoring the importance of inclusivity in outdoor settings. Implications for PCT management, the outdoor industry, and trail communities are discussed.

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Pacific Crest Trail; female thru-hikers; women/woman thru-hikers; gender influences; personal outcomes

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