When to go?
Since the NCT traverses the northern tier of the U.S., weather can be a serious challenge. Severe winter conditions last much longer compared to more southerly regions while the combination of heat, humidity, and bugs can be a summer challenge. In many places along the NCT, spring and fall are the optimal times for hiking. Fall typically offers beautiful fall colors, cooler temperatures, and bug-free conditions. Spring offers the beauty of nature’s post-winter revival. Summer brings long days and good weather…but usually thick bugs! Winter is also a great time to be out on the NCT to enjoy the solitude and to read the story the wildlife tracks make in the snow. Also, there aren’t any bugs in the winter!
For more information on weather along the NCT, feel free to search for current weather conditions for any of the cities listed under Getting to the NCT. Additionally, the Weather Channel’s Outdoors Guide offers weather forecasts for popular recreational areas. Meanwhile, historical average weather data (e.g. average high/low temps and precipitation by month) is available online at Weatherbase.com.
One season to pay particular attention to is the local firearm hunting season. The NCTA recommends hikers research hunting seasons along the NCT during the fall because of the inherent safety issues. For more information, visit the Safety page.