Thruhike: The Pacific Crest Trail

Haleigh Ehmsen


Chicago, Illinois

Cairn Project Ambassador Haleigh Ehmsen wearing a purple shirt and a purple backpack smiles with her arms held out

About Haleigh Ehmsen

Haleigh Ehmsen works in Communications at Saint Mary’s College, and is a thruhiker and runner based in South Bend, Indiana. After recently hiking the Appalachian Trail, Haleigh is challenging herself to a new thruhike adventure that will expand outdoor access for young women.

2,650 Miles of the Pacific Crest Trail

In June, Haleigh is setting off on a 5 month-long adventure of The Pacific Crest Trail. To avoid the above average snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, she’s flip-flopping the route. Starting in Sisters, OR, Haleigh will hike north 660 miles to the Canadian border. After reaching Canada, she’ll take transit back to her starting point to hike the remaining 1,990 miles southbound to her final destination, Mexico.

The Pacific Crest Trail is the second longest hiking trail in the United States, spanning 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada along the crest of the mountains in California, Oregon, and Washington. In total, the route passes through 25 different National Forests and 7 National Parks. Designated a National Scenic Trail in 1968, the trail is protected and maintained by the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

A graphic showing her route from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail
Haleigh standing on the trail sign at the Northern Terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail

Why Get Out and Give Back?

“I know how transformative it can be when you try something new. When it feels right and you know you found something you were made for. I’ve felt this way a handful of times: hiking the Appalachian Trail, training for a marathon, and getting lost in scribbling words on the page. It just takes one opportunity to spark passion, and I hope that sharing my journey inspires other women to go out and accomplish whatever goals they have.”

See More Ambassadors

Carlie Graham

Pico de Orizaba Infinity Loop

April Martinez

Summiting Mt. Rainier

Sophia Henze

Kayaking the Green River

Melissa Luna

Superior Hiking Trail