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guided backpacking trips washington state

10 Awesome Beginner Backpacking Trips In Washington State (Not Just for Newbies!)

Post Summary: 10 Beginner Backpacking Trips In Washington State

Backpacking trips are one of our favorite ways to enjoy the Pacific Northwest summer. Serene lakes, breathtaking mountain ranges, and the peaceful bliss of nature make it feel like your soul is refreshed on trips like these!

If you are curious about backpacking but don’t know where to begin your trip planning, you’ve come to the right place! We’re sharing our top 10 favorite beginner backpacking trips in Washington to get your feet wet (quite literally, sometimes). Let’s go!

guided backpacking trips washington state

The Best Beginner Backpacking Trips In Washington State

Beginner backpacking resources.

Before we start our list of top beginner backpacking trips in Washington State, you’re going to want to save these next few blog posts. These are incredibly helpful guides to assist you in backpacking gear, trail tips, and so much more!

  • The Beginner Backpacking Gear List (+ a downloadable, printable list!)
  • The 57 Best Gifts For Backpackers (perfect for holidays and birthdays)
  • Camping Hygiene 101: How To Stay Clean While Backpacking
  • How to Find Discount Outdoor Gear To Save Tons of Money
  • Our Favorite Backpacking Gear (lots of blog posts to read!)

Beginner Backpacking Trips in Washington State

1. Ancient Lakes (Wenatchee Area)

  • Region:  Central Washington – Potholes Region
  • Distance:  12 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: ~650 feet
  • Best Season:  Spring, early summer (it gets HOT in the peak summer months)

Get a desert experience without having to leave the state! Ancient Lakes in Central Washington feels like you’ve been transported into the gorgeous canyons of Utah, but it’s only 2.5 hours away from Seattle.

Come and see this geological wonder by hiking through a recessional-cataract canyon, beautiful lakes, and numerous trails around the area.

There are several routes to the Ancient Lakes Basin, and it all depends on your preference. One route leads to Judith Pool and the others are Upper and Lower trails, with abundant desert plant life, views, and geological wonders.

It’s one of the best beginner backpacking trips in Washington state to do in the early camping season – April and May.

Note: The lakes are unsafe for filtering water, so pack in enough clean water for your entire trip.

2. Barclay Lake

  • Region:  Stevens Pass Area (Highway 2)
  • Distance:  4.4 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: ~250 feet
  • Best Season:  Summer

Barclay Lake is an easy and beautiful hike near Seattle , but did you know that you can camp there, too ? This is a perfect short Washington backpacking trip for families because it’s just 4.4-miles roundtrip ! There is little elevation gain, but the end result is camping by the lake, so you can’t get much more Pacific Northwest than this!

This region gets quite a bit of rainfall every year, so come prepared to encounter rain showers even if the forecast doesn’t say so! Make sure to pick up a Northwest Forest Pass and put it in your car’s dashboard before hiking out of the campsite. Otherwise, the fee is $5/day/vehicle!

Confused on what Pacific Northwest forest pass to get? Read our entire guide of PNW Forest passes here!

The Best Backpacking Trips in Washington For Beginners

3. La Push Second Beach

  • Region:  Washington Coast near Forks, WA
  • Distance:  0.7 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: ~100 feet
  • Best Season:  Summer, Fall

If you’ve ever been curious about camping on Washington beaches , Second Beach in La Push is the perfect way to get your feet wet (literally!).

It’s one of the best beginner backpacking trips in Washington State for it’s short distance, beautiful views, and simple permit process.

Second Beach is a short trail to a secluded cove, with prime camping real estate among the driftwood logs. Come for beach bonfires with your friends, and to watch epic summer sunsets behind the sea stacks just offshore. It’s one of the best short backpacking trips in Washington, easy for beginners and families!

This beach requires a camping permit , so make sure to pick one up (and a bear canister!) at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles or Lake Quinault Ranger Station .

Read The Full Camping Guide Here: Beach Camping Tips For An Overnight Trip to La Push Beach

guided backpacking trips washington state

4. Ozette Triangle

  • Region:  Olympic National Park (Coast)
  • Distance:  9.7 mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: ~550 feet
  • Best Season:  Late Spring, Summer, Early Fall

If you want a beginner backpacking trip in Washington that is more than just an overnighter, consider hiking the Ozette Loop in Olympic National Park . This trail leads you through the thick temperate rainforest of Washington and out to a quiet section of the Washington Coast.

You’ll camp on the shore, meander on forest boardwalks, and hike alongside some of the most primitive and beautiful Washington beaches. On your way out, don’t forget to stop by Cape Flattery trail – it’s the most northwest corner of the lower 48 states!

Loved hiking the Ozette Loop? Next, try backpacking to Shi Shi Beach or hike up Rialto Beach !

5. Enchanted Valley (Olympic National Park)

  • Region:  Olympic National Park
  • Distance:  26 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
  • Best Season:  Summer, Early Fall

One of the coolest pieces of Olympic National Park history is nestled along the East Fork Quinault River Trail called the Enchanted Valley . This fun beginner backpacking trail in Washington leads you to a backcountry chalet , originally meant as a resting place for tired travelers dating all the way back to the 1930s.

It was once turned into an aircraft warning station during World War II and is occasionally used as an emergency shelter and ranger station , but it needs to be moved to a new location before it can provide full services again. Regardless, this rugged cabin with the snow-capped mountains in the background makes for an incredibly beautiful backpacking trail stop!

Plan A Bigger Trip To The Coast: The Complete Olympic Peninsula Road Trip (With Itinerary!)

6. High Divide – Seven Lakes Basin Loop

  • Distance:  19-mile loop
  • Elevation Gain: 5,308 feet

If you are interested in Washington beginner backpacking trips in the Olympics with a little bit more elevation, consider the High Divide – Seven Lakes Basin Loop .

This is a great ‘first challenge’ for hikers who want to test out higher elevation camping. This route provides stargazing nights (if it’s clear!), gorgeous wildflower fields, and several sub-alpine lakes to enjoy.

This is a very popular Olympic National Park backpacking trail , and the park encourages advanced reservations between May 1st and September 30th. Half of the campsites are reserved for walk-up permit goers, so you could also try your hand at snagging a last-minute permit, but come with a backup plan too just in case!

Loved backpacking the Seven Lakes Basin? Next, try and snag a permit for the Enchantments in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness!

7. Hidden Lake Lookout

  • Region:  North Cascades National Park
  • Distance:  8 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 3,300 feet

Fire Lookouts in Washington are one of the coolest summer mountain experiences, and you can have your very own at Hidden Lake Lookout ! This trail in North Cascades National Park is quite popular, with no permit necessary to stay overnight at the lookout as it actually sits right out of the park borders.

However, it’s first-come-first-serve to snag a spot inside the structure, so come early and during the weekdays to get the best chance of having it to yourself. While the lookout doesn’t require permits, permits ARE required to camp between the lake and the ridge, so come prepared with alternative plans and reservations if your heart is set on this epic beginner backpacking trip in Washington.

Loved hiking to Hidden Lake Lookout? Next, try backpacking to Sahale Glacier Camp , located on the same access road in the North Cascades!

guided backpacking trips washington state

8. Gem Lake / Snow Lake

  • Region:  Snoqualmie Pass Area
  • Distance:  11 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
  • Best Season:  Summer, Fall (watch out for mosquitos!)

Snow Lake is one of the most popular Washington hiking trails , but if you wanted to make it an overnighter, you can hike one lake farther to camp for the night.

Hike past Snow Lake to the smaller Gem Lake for solitude and some pretty beautiful summer sunsets. This turquoise blue water is swimmable, so jump in after a long day on the trail!

This is one of the best beginner backpacking trips in Washington state for its convenience to Seattle , and attainable miles to elevation ratio for a good challenge (but not too difficult!). No reservations are necessary, but you must display a Northwest Forest Pass in your car before heading up to the lake.

Check out this popular nearby hike: Rattlesnake Ledge Trail

9. Lena Lake

  • Region:  Southeast Olympic National Park
  • Distance:  7.2-mile round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
  • Best Season:  Summer and Fall

The trip to Lena Lake is some of the best backpacking in Washington for any level of hikers. The trail starts out with switchbacks up into the forest, where old-growth forests and towering trees provide a wilderness solace for all. Camp at the lake’s edge and enjoy the quiet moments tucked away in the Olympics.

If you’re looking for a classic Pacific Northwest weekend, this might be one of the best Washington beginner backpacking trips for you!

Read More: Forest Bathing – Why You Should Trip This Natural ASMR Experience On Your Next Hike

1. Gothic Basin & Foggy Lake

  • Region:  North Cascades / Mountain Loop Highway
  • Distance:  9.2 miles out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 2,840 feet

Gothic Basin is one of the easier-to-reach by car backpacking trips in Washington State if you live near Seattle. Although we wouldn’t truly call this a backpacking trip for beginners, it’s a nice challenge for those who are ready to take the next step, difficulty-wise. We added it to the list because the permit-free camping and convenience from Seattle are very appealing for beginners.

Located on the Mountain Loop Highway (Granite Falls, WA) this trek is a great overnighter for those who want to try mountain camping.

There are steep sections, a waterfall, and a mountain pass (with views of the Monte Cristo area peaks) for a condensed backpacking adventure . Expect a scramble, sections of wildflowers, and possible snow in the early season. Camping is permit-free but come early to snag a spot, as it’s a popular place, especially on the weekends.

Explore More of the Area: 30+ Incredible Hikes in Washington State

What are some of your favorite beginner backpacking trips in Washington State? Share them with others in the comments below!

guided backpacking trips washington state

Maps Over Coffee

BEST Backpacking in Washington State: 13 Amazing Trips

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With so many trails in Washington, it’s easy to wonder which ones offer the best backpacking.

I live between the Olympic and the Cascade ranges, and I’ve spent countless hours on the trails here and even more time planning and researching trips.

In this article, I’ve selected thirteen trips that feature the best backpacking in Washington State, all in different regions, from the Olympic Peninsula to the Central and North Cascades to Mount Rainier. 

Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker or a beginner eager for your first adventure, these trails promise an unforgettable experience packed with stunning scenery, opportunities for wildlife sightings, and that unbeatable feeling of being immersed in nature. 

Let’s get into it! 

Quick Guide: Best Backpacking Trails

  • Best Beginner Backpacking Trails: Tuck and Robin Lakes, but stopping at Hyas Lake 
  • Best Year-Round: Hoh River Trail
  • Best for Groups w/ Children: Second Beach
  • Best for Wildflowers: Cascade Pass & Sahale Arm
  • Best Wildlife Viewing: Enchanted Valley 
  • Best Multi-Day: Copper Ridge Loop

13 Best Washington Backpacking Trips  

This guide features backpacking trips in Olympic National Park and one spectacular must-do trip in Olympic National Forest, exposing you to ecosystems ranging from craggy coastlines to rainforests, valleys, and glaciers.

Also featured here are the best trips available in the Central and North Cascades and at Mount Rainier National Park. These trails are known for their alpine meadows, pristine lakes, and otherworldly granite landscapes.

Olympic National Park 

1. second beach.

  • Distance: 5 miles  
  • Elevation: 300 feet  
  • Difficulty: Easy  
  • Permit: ONP Wilderness Permit

Second Beach on the Pacific Coast is my favorite beach in Olympic National Park. 

guided backpacking trips washington state

Dramatic coastline cliffs, stunning sea stacks, excellent tide-pooling, and a wildlife refuge off its shores make this La Push beach worth exploring. 

Camping here allows you to experience low tide at both ends of the beach without rushing. 

The short hike from the trailhead makes this an excellent trail for beginners and families with young children.

At the north end, near the natural arch, there’s another smaller, stunning beach accessible at low tide. This end is where most people take photos and near where most set up camp.

I recommend walking south and choosing a site away from the crowds. 

On the south end are some of the best beach campsites in the entire state. The beach widens considerably, so there’s little risk of the tide encroaching on your tent. 

2. Shi Shi Beach

  • Distance: 9 miles  
  • Elevation: 200 feet  
  • Difficulty: Moderate  
  • Permit: ONP Wilderness permit

guided backpacking trips washington state

Point of Arches on Shi Shi Beach offers the best coastline scenery in Olympic National Park. This configuration of over thirty incredible sea stacks is older than any others on the Olympic Peninsula. 

The mileage and elevation gain on this trip are relatively easy. It’s roughly 4.5 miles to get to Point of Arches from the trailhead, traveling through the forest and across Shi Shi Beach. But you must hike through a relentless section of mud, even in August. 

This is one of the park’s busiest destinations for beach camping, so don’t come here expecting solitude.

You can camp near Point of Arches, giving you a great home base to explore the incredible rock formations here. At low tide, or better yet, a minus tide, explore acres of tide pools filled with colorful sea stars, anemones, and other marine life.

3. Hoh River Trail

  • Distance: 10.6 – 37 miles  
  • Elevation: 367 – 5000 feet  
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Hard  
  • Permit: Wilderness permit

On the Hoh River Trail, you’ll hike through a delightful rainforest filled with moss-draped trees along the river, through subalpine meadows, and, if you go the entire distance of this backpacking trip, you’ll eventually reach Blue Glacier. 

You don’t have to backpack the entire trail because there are three camps to choose from before reaching Glacier Meadows Camp at the end. 

This trail is one of Olympic National Park’s best destinations, showcasing giant trees, river and valley views, and the incredible Cougar Creek cedar grove. You may even cross paths with a herd of the park’s Roosevelt elk. 

The crowning glory of this backpacking trip is seeing incredible views of the Blue Glacier stretching down from Mount Olympus, the tallest peak in the Olympics. 

This is a fantastic destination for winter backpacking trips because snow usually doesn’t cover the first roughly 12 miles. 

4. Enchanted Valley

  • Distance: 27.8 miles  
  • Elevation: 3700 feet  
  • Difficulty: Hard  

Enchanted Valley Chalet in Washington- a world-class backpacking

Backpacking the Enchanted Valley is a journey along a river, through a lush rainforest filled with ancient trees, into an open valley inhabited by wildlife surrounded by majestic mountains. 

It’s a world-class backpacking trip into Olympic National Park’s “Valley of 10,000 Waterfalls.”

While the moniker may be an exaggeration, you’ll see why it’s an apt description once you reach the old Enchanted Valley chalet. To witness numerous waterfalls cascading down valley walls is simply spectacular. Do this trip in spring for the best waterfall experience. 

With this place being so beautiful, the word is out. So expect to see plenty of other groups on the trail. 

Note that at 12.7 miles, before arriving at the valley, you must cross a high, narrow bridge that will likely test your nerves and balance.

After setting up camp, continue hiking up the valley for two miles to see the largest Western Hemlock tree in the world.

5. High Divide Loop

  • Distance: 19.1 miles
  • Elevation: 4175 feet 
  • Difficulty: Hard

High Divide Washington

This is the hike to do if you’re looking for the most stunning scenery in the Olympic Mountains. 

You’ll hike past Sol Duc Falls and serene Deer Lake, ascend a high ridge with expansive views spanning rainforest valleys, and revel in the sight of the Olympic Peninsula’s highest peak, Mount Olympus.

The High Divide’s incredible ridgeline vistas, alpine lakes, and gorgeous meadows are no secret. Be diligent about securing your permit.  

Plan for more than one night for this backpacking trip. Once you reach Seven Lakes Basin, you’ll want to stay awhile to explore. 

Snow can linger on the hike from Seven Lakes Basin to the High Divide, and if so, the route is much more difficult, if not dangerous. Read trip reports in advance. 

Bring bear spray on this hike. Bears will likely ignore you, but you’ll be happy to have it.

Olympic Peninsula

6. marmot pass.

  • Distance: 11.5 miles
  • Elevation: 3500 feet 
  • Difficulty: Hard 
  • Permit: Northwest Forest Pass

If the Buckhorn Wilderness isn’t on your radar, it should be. 

You’ll start your trip by hiking through gorgeous old-growth forest while the Big Quilcene River cascades alongside the trail. The climbing is steep, but there are flat areas to pull over, eat, and rest. 

Fill up on water at Camp Mystery. Beyond this point, there’s no water source, making a compelling case for camping here. 

But if it’s not too windy and you want to wake up to some of the best mountain vistas in the Olympic National Forest, continue to Marmot Pass. 

The weather for our trip started with cloud cover, but they parted when we arrived at Marmot Pass. We sat and watched incredulously as the clouds moved across the mountains, exposing the ridges surrounding us.

As the trail’s name suggests, you’ll hear marmots and probably see a few. 

Once you set up camp, you can continue your adventure. Options include summiting Buckhorn Mountain or taking a dip in Buckhorn Lake.

North Cascades National Park

7. cascade pass & sahale arm.

  • Distance: 11.8 miles
  • Elevation:   4000 ft
  • Permit: Backcountry Permit

Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm

There aren’t enough superlatives to capture just how spectacular of a trail this one is. 

Given the choice of when to do this trip, I’d pick late summer every time. In September, fall colors begin to pop, blazing the landscape surrounding you while cool, blue hues of jagged alpine peaks form a magnificent backdrop. 

The ridgeline of Sahale Arm offers incredible views in every direction. The meadow here, filled with mountain heather, glows a remarkable shade of crimson in the fall. 

Despite the amount of switchbacks on the ascent, it’s the most popular day hike in the North Cascades. Naturally, backcountry permits are at a premium.

Sahale Glacier Camp is the most competitive permit to secure, but other campsites are available.

The push to reach Sahale Glacier Camp is hard climbing. Once you arrive, the high alpine scenery of the mountains around you makes it all worth it. 

8. Copper Ridge Lookout

  • Distance: 20.4 – 34 miles
  • Elevation: 6200 – 8600 feet 

This is the trip to take for views of the most northern peaks of North Cascades National Park. You’ll experience all that makes these mountains worth visiting: a pretty glacier-sculpted valley, jagged mountain peaks, and some of the finest backcountry alpine views.

You can do this trip as an out-and-back to the Copper Ridge Lookout. If you have more time, do the 34-mile Copper Ridge Loop, on which you must cross a river in a self-propelled cable car. 

Early on, you have the option to detour and climb Hannegan Peak. Without a doubt, the views make it worth doing.

But the best views are yet to come at the fire lookout. Surrounded by high mountain ridges, you remember why all the tough climbing is worth it.  

Note that this trail is buggy. Bring your headnet along with gloves for the cable car crossing.

Cascade Range

9. enchantments.

  • Distance: Varies
  • Elevation: Varies 
  • Permit: Enchantments Permit

Backpacking in Enchantments Washington is one of the best!

I’ve read trip reports of hikers calling this the most overrated trail in Washington. Do not listen to them. The fairy-tale-like beauty of this alpine terrain is mindblowing.  

Set within the Stuart Range, the Enchantments Lakes basin features an otherworldly granite landscape with jagged peaks and bowls lined with snowfields, even in summer, pristine lakes, mountain goats, and larches that turn a brilliant yellow-gold in fall. 

Backpacking in one of the five Enchantment zones in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness requires a permit granted by a highly competitive lottery system.

Permits for the Core Enchantment zone are the most coveted. In 2022, a whopping 26,988 applications were submitted, while only 2,920 total backpackers got the opportunity to stay overnight in this famed backcountry.

With a place this magical, it’s still worth entering the lottery year after year in case you get lucky. 

You have better odds applying for the Stuart zone, allowing you to day hike to the core.

10. Tuck and Robin Lakes

  • Distance: 12.7 miles
  • Elevation:   3400 feet
  • Permit: None 

Located near the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the scenery on the Tuck and Robin Lakes trail is similar to the Enchantments, but there are no permits to secure. The trade-off is that it’s a busy trail on summer weekends. 

The first section to Hyas Lake is relatively easy, especially considering what comes later. It’s a perfect backpacking trip for beginners and families.

The ascent begins once you push past Little Hyas Lake at about 3.5 miles in. Once you reach Tuck Lake, take a well-deserved break and enjoy the alpine views. 

It may be tempting to set up camp here. But pushing that extra 1.5 miles to camp at Robin Lakes is worth it. 

Be prepared for some scrambling and route-finding.

The breathtaking granite views around Robin Lakes are your reward for enduring such an arduous climb. On a clear day, you’ll see Washington volcanoes in the distance.  

11. Gothic Basin

  • Distance: 9.3 miles
  • Elevation: 3100 feet 

For the experienced hiker, the elevation gain on this trail may not seem like much. The light scrambling required makes this hike harder than it seems just looking at the numbers.

Miners blazed the trail leading to Gothic Basin, a name that belies the joy and delight this landscape elicits when its meadows and wildflowers are in bloom. Today, the state’s Department of Natural Resources manages this conservation area to protect its fragile ecosystem. 

Set up camp on established campsites, never on top of meadows or plants. 

Once you’re in the basin, there’s much to explore. Gothic Lake can be viewed from many different areas, but remember to walk on rock as best as possible. 

Continuing to Foggy Lake is a must. Follow the cairns to get there. There are no trees, only sparkling blue water surrounded by rock and Del Campo Peak. 

I highly recommend jumping in on a hot summer day!

12. Mount Margaret

  • Distance: 16 miles
  • Elevation: 3825 feet
  • Permit: Backcountry Camping Permit

guided backpacking trips washington state

This backpacking trip to Shovel Lake Camp allows you to travel through the blast zone of Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. 

You’ll see a rugged, once-decimated landscape regenerating with vegetation and wildlife. Young conifer trees, fruit shrubs, and wildflowers now grow, and the scenery is fantastic in fall. 

Start at Boundary Trail 1 and go right to continue to Bear Pass and be rewarded with excellent views of Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and Mount St Helens.

You can avoid traversing the sketchy Whittier Ridge by approaching this trip as an out-and-back hike rather than a loop. 

There’s little shade or tree cover, so UV protection is essential. Read trip reports regarding water sources and be prepared to carry water. 

Shovel Lake Camp is spectacular. The water is frigid but feels amazing after hiking in the sun. 

Mount Rainier

13. spray park loop .

  • Elevation: 5100 feet  
  • Permit: Wilderness Permit

Spray Park- must visit when you are backpacking having an amazing an dwonderful trail

The Wonderland Trail circumnavigating Washington’s most famous volcano is 93 miles, but you won’t be able to hike it unless you win a coveted and highly competitive permit. 

Spray Park Loop offers a fantastic opportunity to experience a section of the Wonderland Trail.

You’ll hike through old-growth forests and meadows dotted with wildflowers, cross rivers and snowfields, see waterfalls and a crystal blue alpine lake, and relish stunning views of Mount Rainier and other peaks. 

Decide if you’ll travel clockwise or counter-clockwise. Either way, you’ll have serious elevation gain to contend with, but going clockwise means you’re not saving the toughest climbing for the very end. 

This trip is beginner-friendly but only for those with navigation and bouldering skills, ready for log crossings over fast-moving water.

Tips for Backpacking in Washington

Below are helpful tips for a successful backpacking adventure.

Secure Backcountry Permits Early

Permits on some of these trails can be hard to come by. Start planning for the next backpacking season in winter.

Head to the Washington Trails Association’s website in January, which lists key dates regarding when the lottery system and reservations open up.  

Avoid Wildfire Smoke

Wildfires now dictate where we can and cannot recreate during the prime backpacking months of July, August, and September. 

All planning during these months is incomplete without a visit to fire.airnow.gov.

You can escape to Olympic National Park’s beaches when wildfires rage across the Cascades.

Stop at Ranger Stations

I highly recommend stopping at the corresponding ranger station before a backpacking adventure to learn about trail conditions and the best place to camp or collect water. 

Rangers are an incredible resource, and I’ve found them generally eager to help. 

Wrap-Up: Best Backpacking in Washington State

I’ve made lifetime memories on these amazing trails, and I hope the same for you.

From the rugged coastline of the Olympic Peninsula to the alpine lakes of the North Cascades, these thirteen exceptional trips showcase the best of Washington’s stunning landscapes.

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Backpacking in Washington State Pin

Meeshka is the founder of Sand & Elevation. Living between two mountain ranges - the Olympics and the Cascades - she spends her free time in the mountains on the coast, hiking, climbing, and exploring the outdoors. Meeshka helps other nature-loving adventurers by writing comprehensive guides to the Pacific Northwest's best destinations.

Big News! My Green Form is now Maps Over Coffee!

Washington's 30 Most Incredible Backpacking Trips

Experience the best of Washington's backcountry.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

guided backpacking trips washington state

Whatever kind of backcountry adventure you're looking for, you're likely to find it in Washington. From the rugged coast to the Cascade mountains, there is no shortage of amazing trails and beautiful places to spend a night under the stars. Newbie backpackers and seasoned vets alike can find the perfect backpacking trip on this list. Take a look at these incredible adventures and we're sure you'll start planning your next backpacking trip in Washington ASAP. 

1. Hike to Hidden Lake Lookout

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Christin Healey

Distance: 7.39 miles Elevation: 3415 ft Type: Out-and-back

Hike to this breathtaking lookout hut and spend the night marveling at the panoramic views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. Leave early since this spot is first come first served! Though there’s a scramble to the top, the views are well worth it! Note that there can be snow coverage even into the summer months, so be prepared with the appropriate gear and footwear.

2. Backpack to Spade and Venus Lakes

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Jason Zabriskie

Distance: 26.47 miles Elevation: 2300 ft Type: Out-and-back

For those looking for extreme backcountry beauty and solitude– this is the adventure for you! Nestled in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness lie two gorgeous remote lakes. It’s not a quick journey to arrive at these gems, so stay the night and camp under the piercingly bright stars sprinkled in the dark sky to get that true isolated wilderness experience.

3. Hike to Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Beau Ramsey

Distance: 3.28 miles Elevation: 1335 ft Type: Out-and-back

For a truly unique and unforgettable outdoor experience, stay overnight in a historical fire lookout (one of the last fire lookouts in the region) surrounded by the jagged mountain tops of the North Cascades. This spot is first come first served, so plan accordingly. Campsites are also found at the lake or near the summit area.

4. Backpack Park Butte

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Derek Cook

Distance: 7.64 miles Elevation: 2100 ft Type: Out-and-back

This adventure features some of the best views of Mount Baker’s West Slope. Extend your time exploring this pristine wilderness and camp overnight for the chance to view an incredible display of night stars and the Milky Way. Along the way to the lookout (a must-see destination/place to stay overnight on a first come first served basis) you’ll see fields of wildflowers before encountering supreme views of the Puget Sound. If the lookout has been taken, the Railroad Grade and Bell Pass trails offer camping options too.

5. Backpack to Tank Lakes

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Mitch Pittman Distance: 18.94 miles Elevation: 4721 ft Type: Out-and-back

This adventure features many small mountain lakes and peaks that seemingly go on forever. As you hike through the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, solitude becomes your friend– you and the wilderness! Permits aren’t required, ridding you of that extra step to experience a truly remarkable and peaceful immersion in nature.

6. Backpack Tuck and Robin Lakes

guided backpacking trips washington state

Distance: 13.94 miles Elevation: 4199 ft Type: Out-and-back

Take in the wide expanse of endless granite and three breathtaking alpine lakes, which have been coined “The Little Enchantments.” You’ll also be rewarded with views of Mt. Daniel and Cathedral Rock. Be on the lookout for mountain goats along the way! Aside from these animals and the insects that stick around (especially during the summer), this adventure is dog-friendly! There are campsites that surround the lakes for those wanting to stay overnight.

7. Backpack to Gem Lake

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Felix Madrid

Distance: 10.4 miles Elevation: 2923 ft Type: Out-and-back

Take a dip in the icy blue waters of this alpine lake. Then, stick around for a gorgeous display of colors at sunset. Meander through dense green underbrush and a wooded area before reaching more rocky sections. As you approach the top of this route, soak in excellent views of Chair Peak to the west.

8. Backpack to Marmot and Jade Lakes

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Colin Ayers

Distance: 20.29 miles Elevation: 4370 ft Type: Out-and-back

Venture along the Pacific Coast Trail and steadily climb in elevation. Marmot Lake is particularly great for swimming as it has a beachfront and shallow waters for wading. Keep going and your jaw will drop at the sight of the bright blue waters caused by runoff of Lynch Glacier into Jade Lake. Take a dip here too and explore the streams and waterfalls that feed into the lake. Stay longer and pick one of the campsites along the eastern shore of Lake Marmot.

9. Backpack Anderson and Watson Lake

Two people sit on a rock face over an alpine lake. There are evergreen trees surrounding the lake and mountains in the background.

Distance: 5.68 miles Elevation: 1165 ft Type: Out-and-back

This beginner-friendly backpacking route is hemmed in (hardy har!) by old-growth hemlock. The trail includes boardwalks over streams, rolling hills, and babbling brooks. Summer visitors love the beautiful wildflowers! Make sure you turn around as you hike to enjoy views of Mount Baker! Remember, you'll need a Northwest Forest Pass  for this adventure! The primitive campsites offer views of Lower and Upper Watson Lake, and some offer primitive biffies - aka backcountry toilets.

10. Backpack along Rialto Beach

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Greg Balkin

Distance: 1.06 miles Elevation: 26 ft Type: Out-and-back

This is a great beach walk for ocean lovers. Stroll along the sea shore where you’ll hear the sounds of the waves lapping against the sand and see massive rocks lined up on the coast. This adventure does require a permit, so be sure you pick one up at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles. Camping is permitted after you cross the creek with campgrounds located towards the edge of the beach and forest, but be sure to double check rules and regulations to ensure proper care of the environment.

11. Backpack Ancient Lakes

guided backpacking trips washington state

Distance: 4.34 miles Elevation: 213 ft Type: Out-and-back

This unique adventure is located within the desert… but it features so much more! There are lakes, waterfalls, wildflowers, greenery, and beautiful basalt cliffs. Who knew you could get all that in the desert? Bring a swimsuit and take a dip in one of the lakes to cool off. There are a few campgrounds between the three lakes.

12. Backpack Indian Heaven

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Vic Garcia

Distance: 6.71 miles Elevation: 997 ft Type: Out-and-back

Bask in glorious views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. Check this spot out early in the season to avoid swarms of mosquitoes and crowds. Take your time exploring Blue Lake and set up camp nearby to enjoy more time gazing at the stunning blue waters and snow capped peaks in the background.

13. Backpack to Upper Lena Lake

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Tara Warolin

Distance: 12.61 miles Elevation: 4239 ft Type: Out-and-back

Lena Lake is a popular family-friendly destination. Once at Upper Lena Lake, you’ll be surrounded by a beautiful alpine meadow with the impressive Mt. Lena and Mt. Bretherton as the backdrop. There are 28 campsites at Lena Lake giving you plenty of options to choose from if you plan to stay overnight. Do note that if you want to continue to Upper Lena Lake, a backcountry permit is required since you’ll be entering Olympic National Park. Bring lots of bug spray and a swimsuit during the summer months!

14. Snowshoe and Camp at Skyline Lake

guided backpacking trips washington state

Distance: 2.41 miles Elevation: 1020 ft Type: Out-and-back

Snow lovers will enjoy this adventure to Skyline Lake as it offers some great snowshoeing opportunities. The trail can also be hiked during the summer. If you’d like, there’s also Rock Gardens, Sky Mountain, and Heather Ridge nearby for continued exploration if the trip to the lake isn’t quite enough activity for you. Doing this trip at night provides incredible stargazing and night photography moments.

15. Backpack to Snow Lake

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Michael Matti Distance: 2.12 miles Elevation: 427 ft Type: Out-and-back

Hike among beautiful wildflowers before reaching a stunning alpine lake in Mount Rainier National Park. There are two campsites by the lake, but you must secure a permit first. The pristine water is chilly, but a nice relief after hiking to get there, especially in the hot summer! Be cautious of bears that tend to linger in the area.

16. Backpack the High Divide and Seven Lakes Basin

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Nick Lake

Distance: 19.93 miles Elevation: 5056 ft Type: Loop

This Olympic National Park adventure to the High Divide 7 Lakes Basin features unreal, panoramic views of Mt. Olympus and the Bailey Range. Along the way, take in views of incredibly scenic waterfalls (like the very impressive Sol Duc Falls) and old growth forests. Be on the lookout for wildlife like black bears and deer. Anglers should take advantage of the great opportunities to fish for various species like brook trout at the Deer Lake outlet stream. Note that snow often still blankets steep sections of the High Divide trail even into July. If you plan to hike earlier in the summer, you may need gear for snow and ice.

17. Backpack the Siouxon Trail

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Missy Fant

Distance: 13.03 miles Elevation: 2310 ft Type: Out-and-back

Hike past crystal clear streams and multiple cascading waterfalls along this beautiful adventure. You’ll find yourself fully immersed in the emerald trees. Pack a lunch and picnic surrounded by all that wild beauty. There are primitive campgrounds along the trail if you and some buddies decide to stake out for a night or two. Bring a bathing suit to cool off in one of the natural pools by the waterfalls. From 14 Miles Falls you can keep going to view Chinook Falls.

18. Backpack to Mount Margaret’s Ridge Camp

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Andy Best

Distance: 7.12 miles Elevation: 1634 ft Type: Out-and-back

Backpack to Ridge Camp to escape to a place with mesmerizing mountain views, offering the feeling that you’re one with the clouds. Witness the power of the aftermath of the Mt. St. Helens eruption. This is a pretty magical spot to watch both the sunrise and sunset. Fog usually rolls through the valleys and makes the photography that much more spectacular.

19. Backpack to Sahale Glacier Camp

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Scott Kranz Distance: 11.09 miles Elevation: 4183 ft Type: Out-and-back

Soak in some of the most stunning views of the North Cascade peaks while on this backpacking adventure to Cascade Pass then to the Sahale Arm. From the trailhead, you can also see incredible views of Johannesburg Mountain and the Triplets. Stay the night at Sahale Glacier Camp, but first obtain a permit in advance at the North Cascades Ranger Station.

20. Backpack the Cutthroat Lakes

guided backpacking trips washington state

Distance: 6.21 miles Elevation: 1978 ft Type: Out-and-back

Cutthroat Lakes is a serene spot to spend the night with the opportunity to do day hikes to exposed ridgelines and craggy peaks. You can even scramble to Bald Mountain for breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and the central Cascades. You’ll be surrounded by plentiful green hillsides as this area is known to be the wettest part of Washington’s Cascade Range.

21. Backpack to Spectacle Lake

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Randy Gordon

Distance: 18.91 miles Elevation: 3058 ft Type: Out-and-back

Located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Spectacle Lake is a magnificent gem surrounded by snow capped mountains and old growth conifer trees. This is a popular location on the eastside of Snoqualmie Pass, so you’ll likely be hiking with others around you. Along the way, appreciate sights of Delate Creek and Spectacle Falls before being greeted by the gorgeous blue waters and the Chikamin Peak and Lemah Mountain backdrop.

22. Backpack Gothic Basin to Foggy Lake

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Scott Kranz

Distance: 9.83 miles Elevation: 3491 ft Type: Out-and-back

This adventure offers incredible views of Del Campo Peak and Gothic Peak. The first portion of this hike is wide and flat. You’ll then gradually head through the old-growth forests and start gaining more elevation with steep switchbacks. Foggy Lake is a great place to fish in the warmer months before the lake becomes snow covered.

23. Backpack to Snow Lakes

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Gemina Garland-Lewis

Distance: 16.12 miles Elevation: 4508 ft Type: Out-and-back

This adventure leads to three stunning mountain lakes. This route is known as one of the entrance routes to the Enchantments, a region within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of the Cascade Mountain Range. Leave early in the morning to avoid the heat in the summer. On your way, take a dip into Nada Lake to cool off before continuing forward! Stay overnight along the lakes, but secure an overnight permit ahead of time during permit season.

24. Backpack the Summerland Trail

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Warren Behymer

Distance: 8.62 miles Elevation: 2359 ft Type: Out-and-back

Explore this beautiful trail which offers plenty of areas to stop and soak in the views of Mount Rainier and Little Tohoma Peak. The trail is well-maintained and you’ll be surrounded by greenery and the serene sounds of waterfalls and rivers. Look out for wildlife like mountain goats on the trail. Keep in mind that permits are required to overnight camp.

25. Backpack to Rainy Lake

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Colton Jacobs Distance: 9 miles Elevation: 3205 ft Type: Out-and-back

This adventure offers clear swimming holes and a peaceful lake with great trout fishing opportunities. Rainy Lake lies beneath Preacher Mountain and can be a great base camp for those who may want to summit Preacher or the Pulpit. Note that this trail can be difficult to navigate, so be prepared ahead of time by reviewing a map of your route.

26. Backpack to Vesper Peak

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Catalina Salazar

Distance: 6.59 miles Elevation: 3927 ft Type: Out-and-back

About an hour from Seattle, this adventure features views of Puget Sound, waterfalls, rivers, and forest and rocky mountain terrain. On the way, you’ll pass through patches of trees, foliage, and scattered boulders. To camp overnight, people have set up by Lake Elan or towards Vesper Peak.

27. Snowcamp on Mt. Dickerman

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Scott Kranz Distance: 7.93 miles Elevation: 3675 ft Type: Out-and-back

This is an unforgettable opportunity to snow camp on the summit of Mt. Dickerman. You’ll be blown away by the surreal views of the Cascade Range– Glacier Peak, Sloan Peak, Del Campo Peak, Morning Star (among others!). Be sure to check current snow conditions, especially if heading up in the winter as it could be dangerous with snow and ice. Preparation and knowledge of these conditions and the appropriate gear is essential.

28. Backpack the Enchantments

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Sam Patterson

Distance: 18.02 miles Elevation: 4626 ft Type: Point-to-point

This adventure winds through the magnificent Central Cascade region. While hiking through the Enchantments, take your time admiring the mesmerizing mountains, lakes, and panoramic views. Look out for mountain goats along the way! Permits are required for overnight camping from June to October.

29. Backpack Spider Gap to Buckcreek Pass

guided backpacking trips washington state

Distance: 34.3 miles Elevation: 8317 ft Type: Loop

This is the ultimate backcountry experience with opportunities to view lots of wildlife and astounding mountain ranges and glaciers. It’s a true immersion into the peace and solitude of the wilderness. You’ll encounter everything from forest terrain to wide-stretching subalpine meadows, lakes, and jagged mountain peaks. Note that bears are common on this trail. Bring a bear canister to secure your food if you choose to camp.

30. 4 Day Backpacking Trip in the Enchantments

guided backpacking trips washington state

Photo: Rose Freeman

Distance: 19.57 miles Elevation: 5948 ft Type: Out-and-back

Relax or camp out by a stunning crystal clear, turquoise lake. This adventure will offer plenty of opportunities to explore nearby peaks and winds through mossy forests and granite fields. From Snow Lake Trailhead, you’ll also pass by several small waterfalls as you make your way along a soft wooded trail. Note that a permit is required for overnight stays, but is totally worth it to maximize time spent exploring the insane beauty of The Enchantments.

Cover photo:  Christin Healey

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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20 Best Backpacking Trips in Washington: Ultimate guide for this Summer

| Filed in Blog , Hiking & Backpacking , Washington | Disclaimer: I use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. | Leave a Comment

Backpacking season is here and I am beyond excited about it! I had the pleasure of living in Seattle in Washington State for three years and these are my favorite backpacking trips. If you’re looking for some summer inspiration of the best backpacking trips in Washington, you’re in the right place. Let’s break down 15 backcountry locations in backpacking washington for some of the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer!

The ultimate list of the best backpacking trips in Washington for this summer! This guide will tell you the best spots and how to plan!

Photos in Collaboration with Disa Wold , Adam Ramer , and Johnathon DeSoto

Stick to Established Trails and Campsites

Backpacking washington – know before you go.

If you are new to backpacking, don’t worry I’ve got you covered! I have two blog posts that break down my gear, safety tips, Leave No Trace Principles, beginner backpacking tips and more! Check these out below if this seems like a good place for you to start.

Leave No Trace – Backpacking Washington Version

Most people that get outdoors are familiar with the Leave No Trace or LNT Principles. If not I encourage you to check out the link. I’m going to break down some important things that I personally did not know much about as a beginner backpacker.

Pooping in the Woods

Haha I know, what a way to start off this post! There are a LOT of people backpacking in Washington. And unfortunately that usually results in a lot of toilet paper and waste that is not properly disposed of.

When  using the bathroom outside , make sure you are 200 feet away from the trail and any water source. And PLEASE pack out any toilet paper. I know this sounds gross, but just bring a ziploc bag or doggie poop bags for toilet paper. You can then tie this to the outside of your bag or put it in an outer pocket of your bag. If you are pooping, make sure to dig a hole at least 6 inches and completely bury it.

If you’re a beginner this might sound insane, but if you CAN go the extra mile,  pack out your poop in bags.  As long as they are properly tied off, you can dispose of human waste in public garbage after you return to the trailhead.  REI sells these toilet kits  ($30 for a 12 pack) to minimize the impact of waste on the environment.

I’ve been to so many campsites that are littered in half buried toilet paper and poop. Please don’t be that person in the backcountry (or anywhere, yikes!).

For urinating, I personally like using my  Kula Cloth Pee Cloth  to avoid using toilet paper for urination. It is antimicrobial and really discreet and doesn’t smell. AGAIN, don’t be that person that leaves toilet paper half buried all around the campsite.

Guide Backpacking Tips for Beginners

Tips for Packing Out what you Pack In

A lot of people don’t understand that you also need to pack out any food waste. This includes fruit/veggie peels, shells from nuts, etc. These things do break down, but at a VERY slow rate and also impact the wildlife in the area. Example: Banana peels can take up to 2 years to biodegrade. Wildlife can become too reliant on human food waste and lead to dangerous encounters as well as animals being put down due to this.

Bring a small garbage bag or ziploc and keep it ac cessible for your garbage.

Another tip: Avoid bringing any glass! Not only is it HEAVY to carry in and carry out, it often breaks accidentally and can leave dangerous shards around campsites. It’s never a good situation if someone gets injured from leftover glass 13 miles into a trail.

This is another important one that I didn’t really understand the importance of until later in my backpacking career. Going off trail will leave a mark and impact and can lead to erosion or destruction of fragile habitats. If you see a barely worn trail that shoots off of the main trail, this is an example of this.

Same goes for campsites.

  • Camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. I see this one violated a lot.
  • When in relatively untouched areas try to camp on durable surfaces like rock, gravel, dried grass – areas that wont leave an impact

If you’ve gotten outside a handful of times, you’ve probably seen the wear and tear that humans cause. Be responsible of your impact so that it can be a place to enjoy for years to come.

Best Backpacking Trips in Washington

20 Best Backpacking Trips in Washington

Okay, thanks for bearing with me with the necessary education above! Let’s get into the best backpacking in Washington (in my opinion lol – I feel like I need to state this so people don’t come for me.)

Another Note: Be sure to check if fires are allowed/if there is a current ban. I personally discourage any fires in the backcountry during the summer months even if allowed.

Best Backpacking in Washington

1. Enchanted Valley

  • Location : Olympic National Park
  • Length: 30.6 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain : 4,642 ft
  • Best Months: March – September
  • Difficulty Level: Hard
  • Permits: Permit is required
  • Bear Cannister Required
  • AllTrails Link: HERE

Enchanted Valley is exactly how it  sounds – REALLY ENCHANTED. Seriously, I’m talking waterfalls in the mountains towering on both sides of you, PNW fog hovering in all the right places, groves of tall trees, rivers, an abandoned Chalet with a curious history.  This is not an easy hike. 15 miles in with some real elevation gain.

If you do not have any backpacking experience, I do not recommend this trip as a first time backpacking unless you are going with someone who does have experience.

I also want to note that this is not a secret place. It can be VERY crowded and permits are needed and can be required prior or walk up. They may begin limiting permits due to erosion and other damage that human traffic is causing. If you do get the opportunity to visit this beautiful place, I trust that you’ll want to respect it and practice leave no trace etiquette.

Check for the most current permit information at the  Lake Quinault Ranger Station . For more Destinations in Olympic National Park Check out my blog post: 10 Must See Locations in Olympic National Park

2. Gem Lake

  • Location : Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
  • Length : 11.0 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,670 ft
  • Difficulty: Rated difficult (Moderate option is Snow Lake!)
  • Solitude: Crowded on trail and around Snow Lake, minimal-moderate traffic on the trail to Gem Lake, minimal people camping at Gem Lake (We were one of 2 tents that overnighted on a Thursday in July)
  • Camping: first come first serve in established campsites. NO campfires
  • Bathrooms: at trailhead and at Snow Lake
  • Dogs: allowed on leash
  • Fee:  Northwest Forest Parking Pass

Gem Lake was such a special overnight for me! I hadn’t been backpacking in almost a year and had moved away from Washington and this was such a great trip to come back and do. Check out my guide or Youtube Video below and you’ll see why it’s some of the best backpacking in washington.

guided backpacking trips washington state

3. Waptus Lake

  • Location : Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Length: 17.4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,434 ft
  • Best Months: April – October
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash
  • No Permit Necessary
  • AllTrails Link : HERE

My friends and I camped here on accident. We were heading towards Spade Lake (which is an additional 9 miles round trip and 3,500 ft), but we could see the dark clouds and snow lingering above the area we were headed and stayed put at Waptus Lake instead.

And this is now one of my favorite backpacking memories! There were hardly any other people and the lake was so serene. Truly a stunning place to camp with plenty of camping spots along the way to make this a 2 day trek there!

guided backpacking trips washington state

4. Marmot Pass

  • Location: Buckhorn Wilderness
  • Length: 12.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,917 ft
  • Best Months: July – November
  • No permit required
  • Northwest Forest Pass Required

This is a busier trail and for good reason. I’ll never forget the absurd cloud inversion I saw here. There are many places to camp and the trail actually continues up along a ridge with sweeping views if you’re willing to go a little bit further! This one definitely kicked my butt haha.

5. Pete Lake/Spectacle Lake

  • Location : Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
  • Length: Pete Lake – 9 miles round trip, Spectacle Lake – 18.1 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: Pete Lake – 734 ft, Spectacle Lake – 2,601 ft
  • Difficulty Level: Pete Lake – Easy, Spectacle Lake – Moderate
  • Dogs : Allowed
  • No Permit Required
  • AllTrails Link: Pete Lake , Spectacle Lake

When I did this trail, we hiked to Pete Lake to set up camp and then day hiked to Spectacle Lake the next day to swim! Spectacle Lake is stunning and I highly recommend making the push there either for an overnight or day. All my pictures here are with an ex boyfriend, so i’m going to spare us all and let you check out photos online instead haha. The Pacific Crest Trail runs along this area too if you’re looking for more miles.

guided backpacking trips washington state

6. Gothic Basin

  • Location: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
  • Length: 12.5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,284 ft
  • Best Months: June – October
  • Difficulty Level : Hard

Gothic Basin was a very challenging hike. 3,000 feet in 6 miles to get to the top? But my goodness it was worth it. This was a post break-up hike for me with some girlfriends and it humbled me in all the right ways. I’ll never forget the sunset there and the sunrise on that alpine lake.

This hike has gotten extremely busy from what I’ve heard. I’d recommend trying to go during the week rather than weekends if you are able.

Best Backpacking in Washington: Hardest Hike Award Goes to…

Backcountry Fire Lookout Washington

7. Lookout Mountain Lookout

  • Location: Marblemount
  • Length: 9.1 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 4,432 ft
  • Best Months: July – October
  • Dogs: Allowed

I had an awesome time doing this hike with some friends, and I was freshly unemployed and about to move to Alaska. This hike DESTROYED ME. It IS beautiful and is worth it, but seriously make sure you are physically up to the 1,000 ft per mile. There was a lot of bushwhacking for us and full of mosquitoes and stinging nettle.

We saw multiple bears and got to the lookout only to have another group beat us by a little bit. They were kind enough to let us sleep on the porch since there were multiple bear reports.

Tip: Check the sign in log to see if anyone beat you to the trail if you are planning to stay in the lookout. Bring tents in case you need to camp below the lookout. And another warning is this hike is definitely a high avalanche risk, so be sure you go when the snow is gone.

guided backpacking trips washington state

8. Baker Lake Trail | Best Backpacking Trips in Washington

  • Length: 13.9 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,358 ft
  • Best Months: April – November
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate

Backpacking Washington: Worst Night of Sleep in the Backcountry goes to…

guided backpacking trips washington state

9. Thunder Mountain Lakes

  • Location: Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Length: 12.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,940 ft
  • Dogs: Allowed on Leash
  • Permit Required at Trailhead

I’m so glad I had an offline map (AllTrails pro version), because it can be easy to take the wrong trail at multiple points. There were so many incredible views on this trail, but windy weather rolled in just as we got to the camping area. I’ve heard so many reports of this same experience on this trail, so it seems like a fiercely windy night is a common occurrence. Like, my tent was caving in on me the entire night. Slept zero hours, but I can laugh about it now haha.

10. Hoh River Trail

  • Location: Olympic National Park
  • Length: 41.4 miles round trip (OKAY, but hear me out, you can even just go 5 miles in!!)
  • Elevation Gain: 8,622 ft (again haha this is absurd and I did not do the entire trail)
  • Best Months: June- September
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to Hard (Depending on how far you go!)
  • Dogs: Not allowed
  • Permits Required: HERE

This was actually my first backpacking trip in Washington and second backpacking trip EVER. I legitimately could barely walk after this. We set up camp about 6.5 miles in at Happy Four Campsites. We then dropped our bags for a day pack and hiked as far as we could to get an incredible glimpse at Mount Olympus, which ended up being around 20 miles total. The terrain changed so many times and was truly a beautiful hike.

Best Backpacking Trips in Washington: Worst Mosquitoes Award goes to…

Beginners guide to backpacking

11. Rainbow-McAlester Loop

  • Location: North Cascades National Park
  • Length: 31.5 miles round trip, 2 nights/3 days
  • Elevation Gain: 6,650 ft
  • Dogs: No Dogs Allowed
  • Permits Required: HERE or at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount
  • Washington Trails Association Link: HERE

This was one of the most challenging backcountry weekends I’ve done. The elevation gain never seemed to end, but neither did the views. It was so much fun doing a loop trail and staying at a different campsite each night. We barely saw another soul out here and it was magical. But with each magical moment or alpine lake dip, came hoards of mosquitoes. Make sure you pack your face bug net.

12. Rialto Beach

  • Length: 3 miles to 13.1 miles round trip (depending on how far you want to go!)
  • Elevation Gain : 100 ft to 2,600
  • Best Months: Year round honestly, but Summer and Fall are my favorite here
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
  • Permits Required: HERE or try your luck with a walk up permit at any of the ranger stations there.
  • National Park Pass Required

I LOVE this trail. It’s easy and has incredible sea stacks and rock formations to keep you occupied. I typically like to hike a couple miles past Hole in the Wall which is at 3.3 miles in. If you don’t plan out the tides correctly to pass through hole in the wall, there is a very steep trail at the forest line that goes up and over and is a little scary with packs on to be honest.

guided backpacking trips washington state

13. Second Beach

  • Length: 2.1 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 278 ft
  • Best Months: Year round
  • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Permits Required: HERE or walk up at ranger stations in Olympic NP

Similar vibe to Rialto Beach, Second Beach has some unique rock formations and really incredible tide pools to check out. I like to try to camp on the bluff in the woods just a little bit tucked away to cut down on wind.

guided backpacking trips washington state

14. Tuck and Robin Lakes

  • Length: 13.7 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 4,343 ft
  • Best Months: August – September
  • Dogs: Dogs are allowed on leash
  • Free self-issuing permits are available at the trailhead

I had somehow convinced my not-so-outdoorsy sister to come with me on this challenging hike for her first time backpacking. She vowed to never go with me again after that haha (which didn’t last long, Love you Chels!), but we saw mountain goats, a rainbow, an epic sunset and a meteor shower! I’ll never forget this backcountry trip.

Mount Rainier Backpacking

15. Wonderland Trail to Granite Creek and Mystic Lake

  • Location: Mount Rainer National Park
  • Length: 17.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 4,780 ft
  • Best Months: July – September
  • Dogs: Not Allowed
  • Permits Required : HERE or Call Longmire Wilderness Information Center about walk up availability

I was lucky enough to score a permit for part of the Wonderland Trail and I jumped at the opportunity! If you’re not familiar with the Wonderland Trail, it is a 96 mile loop around Mount Rainier with 25,000 ft of elevation gain that typically takes people 10-14 days to complete. Me and a coworker hiked into Granite Creek Campground where our permit was to camp, set up camp, and then day hiked to Mystic Lake. The hike to Mystic Lake was tiring, since we did it the same day, but SO worth it.

Best Backpacking Trips in Washington: Early Season Backpacking Award goes to…

Best Backpacking Trips in Washington

16. Ancient Lakes

  • Location: North Columbia Basin State Wildlife Recreation Area
  • Length: 4.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 288 ft
  • Discovery Pass Required

I’ve backpacked here 3 times! When it’s spring time and I was tired of the cold, wet Seattle weather, I’d plan an overnight or two here! I have fond memories of laying in the sun here and feeling like I traveled out of Washington! The waterfalls and sunsets here can be so lovely.

Note: You must pack in all your water. The water that is available is not safe even when filtered due to pesticide run off from nearby farms.

Backpacking in washington at Fire lookout. Park Butte lookout trail.

17. Park Butte Lookout Trail

  • Length: 7.2 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,020 ft
  • Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass

I did this trip on a Monday while there was still some snow melting out of the mountains in mid July. There were a lot of cars in the parking lot from people accessing climbing routes for Mount Baker. We were lucky and got to the lookout before any other overnight guests and had the most incredible sunset.

Note: Blue bags are provided at lookout as no toilet paper or pooping in holes is allowed at the summit.

Backpacking Washington Trips on My Bucketlist

There are quite a few backcountry trips in Washington that are still on my bucketlist:

  • Seven Lakes Basin
  • Sahale Glacier Camp
  • The Enchantments

I hope this list has you inspired to plan your first or next backpacking trip in Washington. Backpacking in Washington state is my absolute favorite place to get outside. If you have any questions about these trips, feel free to leave a comment and I will answer the best I can or provide a contact for a ranger station that could better answer! There are endless trails in Washington, and I can’t wait to get back out there myself!

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The ultimate list of the best backpacking trips in Washington for this summer! This guide will tell you the best spots and how to plan!

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Join the conversation.

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Wow, what a selection! I haven’t backpacked in Washington yet, but I would love to do it soon, maybe even still this summer. What tour would you recommend for beginners?

Thank you!! Best, Stefanie

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I think for beginners it’s best to look for something with elevation at 2,000 ft gain or less! Unless you’re in the mountains hiking regularly! REI offers a lot of tours where you can join an expert. But If you’re wanting to try it out, Rialto beach and second beach are easier hikes that are gorgeous!

[…] Best WA Backpacking Trails […]

[…] 20 Best Washington Backpacking Trips […]

'  data-srcset=

Awesome selection and I love the awards! You should add Chelan Lakeshore trail to you bucket list for an early season trip, assuming you haven’t done it.

'  data-srcset=

My friends & I are planning on backpacking for 2 nights next week in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. We’re torn between Waptus (with a day hike to Spade), Marmot Lake (with a day hike to Jade) or Tuck & Robins Lake. We would love your opinion on which was your favorite!

Ooooh that’s a tough one and I’m so jealous!! I still haven’t been to Jade, but from what I know of it – it’s incredible and is top on my list personally. Tuck and Robin lakes were mind blowing to me. We saw mountain goats and a meteor shower. I would lean between those two! Not super helpful I know haha

'  data-srcset=

HI Miss Rover – I’m heading to Eastern Washington for work and want to add a 2-3 night backpacking trip to it. June 21-23. Recommendations? I’m experienced and looking for elevation gains as I’ll be doing tour du mont blanc in July and want to get some training in. Thank you!!

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guided backpacking trips washington state

Backpacking & Hiking Trips

Join us for the best way to explore the beautiful scenery of the forest and rivers in Washington’s highest peak.

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Overnight Backpacking Course

Spend two days backpacking through some of Washington’s most scenic and peaceful places while learning the skills you’ll need to become a proficient backpacker.

Beginner Backpacking Course

Come to the Kaf office and engage in this 8-hour extensive classroom experience on the ins and outs of what it takes to plan your own backcountry experience.

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Mt. Rainier Backpacking & Yoga

Join us for a five-day backpacking trip through the Mount Rainier wilderness, practice yoga, and explore the amazing forests and rivers.

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Guided Day Hike

All-day hikes are custom experiences designed specifically for you and your group. These private courses provide the perfect opportunity to explore the endless breathtaking views.

Spend your day backpacking and exploring the beautiful forest and rivers in Washington’s highest peak. Our trips and course are designed for you and your group. Your instructor guides you through planning and navigating so you can focus on the stunning scenery.

Enjoy the softness of the snow with the beautiful forest in the background. To end your day, we take you to the local winery to have a glass of wine. Book your trip or course today!

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Early Season Backpacking Washington (A 2024 Guide)

You’re itching to go out with your overnight pack, but you’re upset that so many of your hiking alternatives are still covered in snow? Maybe you’re new to backpacking and want to start with some simpler alternatives. You’ve come to the correct location! We’ve compiled a list of ten early-season backpacking adventures to help you get your season off to a great start (and most of them are suitable for beginners!). To assist you in deciding where to begin, we’ve categorized them in order of difficulty from simplest to most challenging. In this article about early season backpacking Washington, we are going to share more details with you on how to backpack when you are enjoying your time in Washington. These walks will be snow-free and available to explore much earlier in the year due to their lower elevation. Most are best done in the spring and early summer, but some may be done in the winter if you’re serious about getting outside (we did Baker Lake in January!). These treks are also less demanding since they are at a lower level, making them ideal for beginners. Weather and trail conditions may change dramatically from year to year, so do your homework, check the forecast, and read previous trip reports before going out.

guided backpacking trips washington state

1. Visit the Foggy Lake and Gothic Basin

If you live near Seattle, Gothic Basin is one of the simplest novice backpacking hikes in Washington State.

This overnighter is located on the Mountain Loop Highway (Granite Falls, WA) and is ideal for individuals who wish to sample mountain camping without having to go too far.

For a condensed backpacking journey, there are steep parts, a waterfall, and a mountain pass (with views of the Monte Cristo region peaks).

In the early season, expect a scramble, areas of wildflowers, and maybe snow.

Camping is allowed without a permit, but arrive early to secure a site, since this is a popular area, particularly on weekends.

Visit the Foggy Lake and Gothic Basin

Read: Is Traveling A Hobby? The Ultimate Guide To An Exciting Way Of Life Learn about the Downsides Of Traveling As A Hobby

2. Ancient Lakes

Get a taste of the desert without leaving the state!

Ancient Lakes in Central Washington transports you to the beautiful canyons of Utah, although it’s just 2.5 hours distant from Seattle.

Hike through a recessional-cataract canyon, lovely lakes, and various paths in the vicinity to observe this geological marvel .

The Ancient Lakes Basin may be reached by a variety of ways, depending on your preferences.

The Upper and Lower paths, with rich desert plant life, vistas, and geological marvels, are one route that goes to Judith Pool and the others are Upper and Lower trails.

In the early camping season – April and May – it’s one of the greatest introductory backpacking excursions in Washington state .

Note that the lakes are not suitable for filtering water, so bring extra clean water to last the duration of your stay.

Ancient Lakes

Read: 12 Best Washington Spring Hikes To Try Out In 2024 Learn about Hoh Rain Forest Loop trail

3. Lake Barclay

Barclay Lake is a gorgeous and simple trek near Seattle, but did you know it’s also a great place to camp?

Because it’s just 4.4 miles roundtrip, this is an ideal short Washington backpacking trip for families.

There isn’t much elevation increase, but the final result is lakeside camping, so it doesn’t get much more Pacific Northwest than that!

This area receives a lot of rain each year, so even if the forecast says otherwise, be prepared for rain showers!

Before leaving the campground, pick up a Northwest Forest Pass and place it on your car’s dashboard.

Otherwise, it’ll cost you $5 per day per car!

Are you unsure which Pacific Northwest forest pass to purchase?

Read the rest of our PNW Forest Passes guide here!

Lake Barclay

Read: 19 Nutritious Backpacking Lunch Ideas No Cooking

4. Second Beach in La Push

Second Beach in La Push is the ideal place to get your feet wet (literally!) if you’ve ever been fascinated about camping on Washington beaches.

Because of the short distance, excellent vistas, and straightforward permit procedure, it’s one of the greatest novice backpacking excursions in Washington State.

A short walk leads to a hidden cove with ideal camping space amid the driftwood logs at Second Beach.

Come to witness amazing summer sunsets behind the sea stacks right offshore and have beach bonfires with your friends.

It’s one of Washington’s greatest short backpacking adventures, perfect for novices and families!

A camping permit ( as well as a bear canister!) is required for this beach, so pick one up at the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles or the Lake Quinault Ranger Station.

Second Beach in La Push

5. Triangle of Ozette

Consider hiking the Ozette Loop in Olympic National Park for a beginning backpacking trip in Washington that is more than simply an overnighter.

This route will take you through Washington’s deep temperate rainforest and out to a peaceful portion of the Washington Coast.

You’ll sleep on the beach, stroll through woodland boardwalks, and trek along some of Washington’s most remote and gorgeous beaches .

Don’t forget to stop at Cape Flattery Trail on your way out — it’s located in the furthest northwest corner of the lower 48 states!

Triangle of Ozette

6. Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park

The Enchanted Valley, located along the East Fork Quinault River Trail, is one of the coolest bits of Olympic National Park history.

This easy novice hiking path in Washington goes to a backcountry lodge that dates back to the 1930s and was built as a rest stop for fatigued visitors.

It was originally utilized as an aviation warning station during WWII and is now used as an emergency shelter and ranger station on occasion, but it will need to be relocated before it can resume full function.

Regardless, this rough cottage, set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, is a stunning hiking trail stop!

Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park

7. High Divide in Seven Lake Basin

Consider the High Divide – Seven Lakes Basin Loop if you’re looking for a novice backpacking trip in the Olympics with a little more elevation.

This is an excellent ‘first challenge’ for hikers who wish to try camping at a higher level.

This path allows you to experience starry evenings (if the sky is clear! ), beautiful wildflower meadows, and multiple sub-alpine lakes .

Between May 1st and September 30th, the park recommends early reservations for this popular Olympic National Park hiking path.

Half of the campsites are allocated for walk-up permit holders, so you may try your luck at obtaining a last-minute permit, but make sure you have a backup plan in case it doesn’t work out.

Have you ever gone hiking in the Seven Lakes Basin?

Next, attempt to get a permit into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness’ Enchantments!

High Divide in Seven Lake Basin

8. Lookout on Hidden Lake

Fire Lookouts are one of the most popular summer mountain activities in Washington, and you can have your own at Hidden Lake Lookout!

This North Cascades hike is quite popular, and you don’t need a ticket to stay overnight at the viewpoint since it’s immediately outside the park’s boundaries.

However, securing a space within the building is first-come-first-served, so arrive early and on weekdays for the greatest chance of having it to yourself .

While there are no permissions necessary to see the viewpoint, permits are required to camp between the lake and the ridge, so plan ahead with alternate plans and reservations if you’re serious about this novice backpacking trip in Washington.

Lookout on Hidden Lake

9. Snow Lake / Gem Lake

Snow Lake is one of Washington’s most popular hiking paths, but if you wanted to make it an overnight trip, you could trek one lake farther and camp there.

Hike beyond Snow Lake to Gem Lake for some peace and quiet and some spectacular summer sunsets.

This turquoise blue lake is swimmable, so cool off after a hard hike!

This is one of Washington’s greatest novice backpacking adventures because of its proximity to Seattle and a manageable miles-to-elevation ratio for a nice challenge (but not too demanding!).

There are no reservations required, however you must have a Northwest Forest Pass displayed in your vehicle before driving up to the lake.

Snow Lake / Gem Lake

10. Lena Lake

For hikers of all levels, the journey to Lena Lake is some of the greatest backpacking in Washington.

The route begins with switchbacks leading up into the forest, where old-growth woodlands and towering trees offer a haven for everyone.

Enjoy the tranquil times nestled away in the Olympics by camping near the lake’s shore .

This can be one of the greatest Washington beginning backpacking excursions for you if you’re seeking for a typical Pacific Northwest weekend!

Lena Lake

Planning your backpacking trip to Washington

So, ideally, you’ve been on a day trek before.

If you haven’t already, attempt several days walks before committing to an overnight trip.

Make yourself at ease in your hiking boots, confident in your ability to pace yourself on the route, and aware about the fundamentals of hiking .

Here’s what you need to know before you plan your backpacking trip to Washington.

Overnight hiking requires more equipment, preparation, and knowledge and abilities.

Talk to friends who backpack before upgrading from day trips to overnights.

Make plans to go on a one-night excursion with someone who has done it previously.

Take a lesson or join a group that organizes guided overnight treks, such as the Mountaineers.

If you’re ready to take the leap and try backpacking this summer, we’ve compiled some helpful preparatory advice .

Planning your backpacking trip to Washington

How to choose the best backpacking trail

It’s a good idea to take an overnight trek or two while you’re just getting started before moving on to multi-day hikes.

Make an overnight trek out of a popular day trip by camping where you’d ordinarily turn around (just make sure it’s legal!).

This will not only give you a decent understanding of what to anticipate on longer walks , but it will also help you become in shape for backpacking.

When planning a backpacking trip, thorough research is essential.

Guidebooks, as well as the WTA’s Hiking Guide and Hike Finder, are excellent tools.

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, check out WTA’s trip reports to see what other hikers have experienced on the path.

Whether there aren’t any recent trip reports, phone ahead to the ranger station to see if the path is open and if there are any felled trees, river crossings, or other obstacles that may make the journey too difficult.

How to choose the best backpacking trail

What passes and permits do you need?

It’s never a wonderful feeling to return home after a trek and see a ticket on your windshield.

Most guidebooks, including the Hiking Guide, will advise you whether you need a pass or permission to walk a particular trail .

You may also find out more by visiting the WTA’s recreation pass website or calling the ranger station closest to the trail.

What passes and permits do you need?

Creating a travel plan

If you stick to paths and use common sense when hiking, you’ll almost certainly never get lost or badly harmed.

If you do get into danger, making a travel plan and leaving it with someone you trust may greatly improve your chances of getting back to safety.

Details about who’s hiking, cell phone numbers, when you plan to leave, where you’re going (where you’ll park, which trailhead will be your starting point, which routes and campsites you plan to use) , when you expect to return, and the license plate and make of the car you’ll be driving should all be included in your plans.

Stick to the plan, and have this person start a search if you don’t show up when you’re supposed to.

It’s also a good idea to drop off your plan with the local ranger station if you’ll be going off-trail or through especially difficult paths.

Before you start the trail, let anybody who was given a copy of the plan know if your plans have changed .

Creating a travel plan

Getting ready with maps

To prevent needing to utilize significant navigation, prepare to do your first backpacking excursions on trails.

You will, however, need a topographic map of the path and surrounding region, as well as a compass, just in case.

If you become lost, know how to utilize them.

Hikers will benefit from topographic maps from Green Trails and Custom Correct Maps since they are updated with current trail information.

Topo maps from the USGS are more detailed, but they aren’t updated as regularly.

Maps may also be printed from a number of software packages, including on waterproof paper .

Getting ready with maps

Final words

Now you are ready to go ahead with early-season backpacking Washington. Keep these tips in mind and go ahead, and you will enjoy the experiences coming on your way.

guided backpacking trips washington state

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Washington Trails

Washington, located in the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S., is dominated by high peaks. The Olympic Mountains cover the far northwest, the Coastal Mountain Range extends into Oregon to the south, the snow-capped Cascades lie further east, the Rockies cut across the northeast into Canada, and the Columbia Mountains form deep valleys in the southeast.

Washington is home to  Mountain Rainier ,  North Cascades  and  Olympic national parks. Mount Rainier National Park encompasses the 14,000-foot namesake peak, North Cascades National Park has some of the best camping in the state, and Olympic National Park encompasses nearly one million acres of rugged wilderness.

Washington also marks the beginning (or end) of the 2,663-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail, a National Scenic Trail that runs from the United States-Mexico border through  California ,  Oregon , and Washington, where it reaches its northern terminus at the United States-Canada border.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/best-hikes-in-washington-national-parks/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "hero", "title": "Best Hikes in Washington State’s National Parks"}}' > Best Hikes in Washington State’s National Parks

Pacific northwest hiking expert matt wastradowski explores the best hiking in washington's three national parks., latest in washington trails, >", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/want-to-see-the-best-of-winter-snowshoe-up-artist-point/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "want to see the best of winter snowshoe up artist point."}}'> want to see the best of winter snowshoe up artist point..

This is the best way to view the North Cascades.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/best-hikes-in-washington/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "The Best Hikes in Washington"}}'> The Best Hikes in Washington

Whether you’re new to the area, just visiting, or a lifelong resident here, there’s always new trails to explore!

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/best-fall-foliage-hikes/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Bask in the Fall Glory on These 7 Perfect Autumn Leaf Hikes"}}'> Bask in the Fall Glory on These 7 Perfect Autumn Leaf Hikes

Hit up one of these 7 hikes for a late-season color show.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/oh-the-places-you-will-hike/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "The 22 Best Hard Hikes in America"}}'> The 22 Best Hard Hikes in America

Whether it’s big elevation changes, big miles, or big moves, these 23 routes prove that the best hikes are often the hardest. There’s a world of adventure out there—if you’re strong enough to seize it.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/the-best-hikes-near-seattle-for-every-kind-of-hiker/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "The Best Hikes Near Seattle for Every Kind of Hiker"}}'> The Best Hikes Near Seattle for Every Kind of Hiker

Looking for a great dayhike, weekend trip, or multiday expedition near Seattle? We've got you covered.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/seattle-wa-lodge-and-beaver-lakes/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Ascend into an Alpine Paradise on this Washington Cascades Dayhike"}}'> Ascend into an Alpine Paradise on this Washington Cascades Dayhike

Link pristine forests, wildflower meadows, and two picturesque lakes on this gentle, 3.7-mile hike near Snoqualmie Pass.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/north-cascades-national-park-chain-lakes-loop/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Pitch Your Tent in the Shadows of Giants"}}'> Pitch Your Tent in the Shadows of Giants

Wind through a chain of alpine lakes with spectacular views of Mts. Baker and Shuksan on this easy 6.5-mile overnight.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/chasing-fire-and-ice-on-the-artist-point-trail-washington/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Chasing Fire and Ice on the Artist Point Trail, Washington"}}'> Chasing Fire and Ice on the Artist Point Trail, Washington

Find alpine bliss halfway through this snowshoe beneath an active volcano in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/editors-pick-north-cascades-weekend/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Editor's Pick: North Cascades Weekend"}}'> Editor's Pick: North Cascades Weekend

Destinations Editor Kristin Smith loves this shoulder-season overnight on East Bank Ross Lake Trail in Washington's North Cascades National Park.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/best-firetower-hikes/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Firetower Hikes: Rooms With a View"}}'> Firetower Hikes: Rooms With a View

Hike to one of these nine fire lookouts for unbeatable views and a unique backcountry experience.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/late-summer-wildflower-hikes/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "See Natural Fireworks on These Alpine Wildflower Hikes"}}'> See Natural Fireworks on These Alpine Wildflower Hikes

Late summer means the high country has finally melted out—and as the snow leaves, the blooms move in. Check out one of these seven hikes for colorful meadows just below the peaks.

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Combine the best of car camping (spacious tents, comfy chairs, frosty margaritas!) and the best of backpacking (deep solitude, outrageous scenery, swimming holes!) with these 15 accessible hideaways.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/best-summer-waterfall-hikes/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Best Summer Waterfall Hikes"}}'> Best Summer Waterfall Hikes

Rest your feet by a backcountry oasis on one of these nine hikes.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/chase-perfect-light-in-the-mt-baker-wilderness/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Chase Perfect Light in the Mt. Baker Wilderness"}}'> Chase Perfect Light in the Mt. Baker Wilderness

Good conditions and better timing make this Washington spot a gorgeous place for photographs.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/head-to-the-high-country/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Head to the High Country"}}'> Head to the High Country

Plan your trip to the alpine as the snow melts out from meadows and ridgelines

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/seven-hikes-beat-the-heat/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "7 Forest Hikes to Beat the Heat"}}'> 7 Forest Hikes to Beat the Heat

Take off for one of these forested hikes to find some respite from the summer heat beneath the trees.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/turn-up-the-heat-at-goldmyer-hot-springs/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Turn Up the Heat at Goldmyer Hot Springs"}}'> Turn Up the Heat at Goldmyer Hot Springs

Hike to total relaxation in Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/trips-by-state/washington-trails/america-s-10-most-dangerous-hikes/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "The 10 Most Dangerous Hikes in America"}}'> The 10 Most Dangerous Hikes in America

Like your life and limbs intact? Then you'd better get skilled before visiting these trails.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/weekends-cascadian-kingdom-north-cascades-national-park/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Explore the Cascadian Kingdom in North Cascades National Park, Washington"}}'> Explore the Cascadian Kingdom in North Cascades National Park, Washington

Rocky peaks, meadows, and squeaky little pikas: this hike showcases the northwest in all its glory.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/vance-creek-bridge-selfie/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Internet-Famous Olympic Peninsula Bridge Draws Risk Seekers"}}'> Internet-Famous Olympic Peninsula Bridge Draws Risk Seekers

Young people are flocking to historic--and closed--Vance Creek Bridge for adrenaline-fueled selfies.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/new-monitor-volcano-glacier/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Locals Push for New Volcano Monitoring Tech on Glacier Peak"}}'> Locals Push for New Volcano Monitoring Tech on Glacier Peak

The "very high threat" volcano currently has only one seismometer.

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Bans will also affect national forests.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/mt-si-helicopter-rescue/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Climber Rescued From Mount Si"}}'> Climber Rescued From Mount Si

Was clinging to Haystack rock formation

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/fall-cliff-sunset-sea/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Man Dies in Fall off Cliff While Watching Sunset"}}'> Man Dies in Fall off Cliff While Watching Sunset

The man slid about 100 feet in Larrabee State Park.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/drowning-white-river-rainier/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Hiker Drowns Crossing Mt. Rainier River"}}'> Hiker Drowns Crossing Mt. Rainier River

The 22-year-old was swept away in the West Fork of the White River.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/fatal-fall-park-butte-baker/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Hiker Dies in Fall from Park Butte near Mt. Baker"}}'> Hiker Dies in Fall from Park Butte near Mt. Baker

The man fell about 90 feet after reportedly climbing on the butte's lookout.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/wolf-pack-trees-woman-wa/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Wolf Pack Trees Woman in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest"}}'> Wolf Pack Trees Woman in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Crews rescued the woman with a helicopter after she climbed 30 feet to escape the wolves.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/crews-rescue-climbers-baker/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Crews Rescue Two Climbers on Mt. Baker"}}'> Crews Rescue Two Climbers on Mt. Baker

Rescuers airlifted the pair off a steep slope at 8,800 feet.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/hike-like-a-local-in-sea/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Hike Like a Local in Seattle"}}'> Hike Like a Local in Seattle

Pity the poor Seattle hikers: On any given day, they must decide whether to explore one of three national parks, venture into the Central or South Cascades, head north into the Canadian Coast Mountains, or just stick around Puget Sound and the Pacific. But before decision paralysis sets in, try one of these can’t-miss picks.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/live-stream-meteorite-search/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Scientists to Live-Stream Search for Olympic Peninsula Meteorite"}}'> Scientists to Live-Stream Search for Olympic Peninsula Meteorite

Researchers will plumb the underwater depths for chunks of a meteorite that fell last March.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/search-missing-man-norca/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Search On for Man Missing in North Cascades NP"}}'> Search On for Man Missing in North Cascades NP

The 31-year-old went missing after camping at Colonial Creek last weekend.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/olympic-np-goat-plan/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Olympic NP to Capture, Kill Goats this Summer"}}'> Olympic NP to Capture, Kill Goats this Summer

The park's new management plan calls for relocating some mountain goats to the Cascades and shooting the rest.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/giant-hogweed-danger/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Watch Out for Dangerous Invasive Plant on Trails this Season"}}'> Watch Out for Dangerous Invasive Plant on Trails this Season

Giant hogweed, found in at least 12 states, causes painful blisters and blindness.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/wf-sea-june15/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Seattle Weekend Forecast: June 15-17"}}'> Seattle Weekend Forecast: June 15-17

What Seattle hikers need to know this weekend.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/blame-social-media-jump-adams/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Some Blame Social Media for Jump in Mountaineering Mishaps"}}'> Some Blame Social Media for Jump in Mountaineering Mishaps

Visitation and rescue incidents are both up at Mt. Adams--but what does Instagram have to do with it?

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/wf-seattle-june8/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Weekend Forecast: June 8-10"}}'> Weekend Forecast: June 8-10

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/navy-rescues-boy-scouts-baker/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "navy rescuers airlift boy scouts off mt. baker"}}'> navy rescuers airlift boy scouts off mt. baker.

The Seattle scouts are recovering from hypothermia after an unplanned night in a snow cave.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/recover-bodies-mt-adams-eagle/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Searchers Recover Bodies on Mt. Adams, Eagle Falls"}}'> Searchers Recover Bodies on Mt. Adams, Eagle Falls

A climber and a swimmer were killed in separate incidents recently.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/wf-seattle-june1/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Weekend Forecast June 1-3"}}'> Weekend Forecast June 1-3

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/hikers-trails-north-bend-cougar/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "wary hikers return to trails after cougar attack"}}'> wary hikers return to trails after cougar attack.

The fatal encounter has some people extra-alert around North Bend's trails.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/cell-service-mt-rainier/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Cell Service Coming to Mt. Rainier"}}'> Cell Service Coming to Mt. Rainier

Verizon and T-Mobile will install wireless equipment at Paradise.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/glacier-peak-most-dangerous/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Geologists: Glacier Peak One of Washington's Most Dangerous Volcanoes"}}'> Geologists: Glacier Peak One of Washington's Most Dangerous Volcanoes

The remote mountain is also one of the Cascades' least-monitored volcanoes.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/teen-wildfire-37million/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Teen Who Started Wildfire Ordered to Pay $37 Million"}}'> Teen Who Started Wildfire Ordered to Pay $37 Million

The 15-year-old threw firecrackers into the Columbia River Gorge last fall, starting the destructive blaze.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/body-mt-baker-snowboarder/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Body Found Near Mt. Baker Believed to Be Missing Snowboarder"}}'> Body Found Near Mt. Baker Believed to Be Missing Snowboarder

Officials think the body recovered outside the ski area is a man who disappeared last January.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/mt-lion-attack-victim-id/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Victim of Rare Mountain Lion Attack Identified"}}'> Victim of Rare Mountain Lion Attack Identified

Sonja Brooks, a 32-year-old from Seattle, was killed while mountain biking near North Bend last Saturday.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/wa-state-parks-free-june/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Washington State Parks Will Be Free on 3 Days in June"}}'> Washington State Parks Will Be Free on 3 Days in June

Play in the parks fee-free on June 2, 9, and 10.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/seattle-program-kids-outside/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Seattle Program Gets Underserved Kids Outside"}}'> Seattle Program Gets Underserved Kids Outside

Elementary school- through college-aged students explore local parks and take field trips as part of the coalition project.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/wf-seattle-may18/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Weekend Forecast: May 18-20"}}'> Weekend Forecast: May 18-20

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/breeding-wolverine-wa/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "1st breeding female wolverine discovered in south cascades"}}'> 1st breeding female wolverine discovered in south cascades.

Biologists confirmed the rare mammal's return to the area south of I-90 after being extirpated in the early 1900s.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/new-mt-system-raging-river/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "New Mountain Bike Trail System to Open This Weekend"}}'> New Mountain Bike Trail System to Open This Weekend

The Raging River State Forest network near Tiger Mountain will debut 17 miles of trail, most of it singletrack.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/il-sailor-missing-olympic/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Illinois Sailor Missing in Olympic National Forest"}}'> Illinois Sailor Missing in Olympic National Forest

The 24-year-old, stationed on the USS Nimitz, disappeared after a dayhike near Sequim.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/wf-seattle-may11/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Weekend Forecast: May 11-13"}}'> Weekend Forecast: May 11-13

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/oregon-and-washingtons-columbia-river-gorge/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "explore oregon and washington's columbia river gorge"}}'> explore oregon and washington's columbia river gorge.

Pacific Northwesterners cherish this wilderness mecca, with its vibrant greenery, roaring waterfalls, and bird’s-eye summit views. But many hikers have stayed away since the Eagle Creek fire tore up nearly 49,000 acres of the Gorge last year. Bad decision. Enjoy the best of the National Scenic Area—and avoid the fire damage—with these tips and trips.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/n-cascades-highway-open/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "North Cascades Highway Set to Open Friday"}}'> North Cascades Highway Set to Open Friday

Risky avalanche conditions extended the plowing project on State Route 20.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/seattle-wf-may-4/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Weekend Forecast: May 4-6"}}'> Weekend Forecast: May 4-6

What Seattle hikers need to know this weekend

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/olympic-burglar-restitution/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Olympic NP Burglar Ordered to Pay Restitution"}}'> Olympic NP Burglar Ordered to Pay Restitution

Rangers caught Alexander Turney after a string of burglaries and vehicle vandalizations in fall 2017.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/orcas-dabob-bay/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Orcas Spotted Near Shore in Hood Canal"}}'> Orcas Spotted Near Shore in Hood Canal

Beachgoers captured a video of the whales in Dabob Bay Tuesday.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/seattle-wf-april27/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Weekend Forecast: April 27-29"}}'> Weekend Forecast: April 27-29

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/seattles-top-10-backpacking-trips/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "seattle's top 10 backpacking trips"}}'> seattle's top 10 backpacking trips.

Washington's top multiday trails, as selected by BACKPACKER Local scouts Jason Bickford and Anastasia Allison.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/body-wallace-falls-apr/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Body Discovered in 3rd Waterfall Tragedy this Month"}}'> Body Discovered in 3rd Waterfall Tragedy this Month

An unidentified woman was found floating below Wallace Falls this week.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/avy-center-special-bulletin/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Avalanche Center Issues Special Warning"}}'> Avalanche Center Issues Special Warning

Warming temps will create significant risk for wet-snow avalanches across the Cascades and Olympics this week.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/transit-trails-shuttle/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Transit to Trails Shuttle Now in Service"}}'> Transit to Trails Shuttle Now in Service

The new public transit program delivers hikers to three popular trailheads.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/waterfall-accidents-wa/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "One Dead, One Missing in Waterfall Accidents across Washington"}}'> One Dead, One Missing in Waterfall Accidents across Washington

A Monroe woman's body was recovered after falling over a cascade at Cedar Ponds Lake, while a Spokane man is presumed dead at Palouse Falls.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/jogger-olympic-discovery/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Jogger Fights Off Assailants on Olympic Discovery Trail"}}'> Jogger Fights Off Assailants on Olympic Discovery Trail

The woman was attacked while running on the Olympic Peninsula's path last weekend.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/seattle-wf-april20/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Weekend Forecast: April 20-22"}}'> Weekend Forecast: April 20-22

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/wa-crowd-gorge-or/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "washington side of columbia river gorge gets crowded after oregon closures"}}'> washington side of columbia river gorge gets crowded after oregon closures.

Last year's wildfire forced the shutdown of more than 30 trails on the gorge's south side.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/washington-local-leaves-1-million-to-parks/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Washington Local Leaves $1 Million to National Parks"}}'> Washington Local Leaves $1 Million to National Parks

Gift comes from estate of Bette Wallace.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/lake-crescent-road-delay/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Lake Crescent Road Construction to Cause Delays this Year"}}'> Lake Crescent Road Construction to Cause Delays this Year

Major road work is scheduled for US Highway 101 and East Beach Road this spring and summer.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/black-bear-safety-wa/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "It's Bear Safety Season in the Cascades"}}'> It's Bear Safety Season in the Cascades

The #1 tip from biologists to protect awakening black bears: Take down your bird feeder.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/grizzly-reintro-zinke/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Zinke Announces Support for Grizzly Reintroduction in North Cascades"}}'> Zinke Announces Support for Grizzly Reintroduction in North Cascades

The government is considering proposals to restore the bears to a slice of their historic habitat in Washington state.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/snowpack-119-percent/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Spring Snowpack in the Olympics at 119 Percent of Normal"}}'> Spring Snowpack in the Olympics at 119 Percent of Normal

This year's abundant snowfall means plenty of water for irrigation, towns, and salmon.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/man-charged-snoq-treehouse/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Man Charged in Child Porn Case in Snoqualmie NF "Gingerbread Treehouse""}}'> Man Charged in Child Porn Case in Snoqualmie NF "Gingerbread Treehouse"

The FBI tracked pornography found in the illegal structure to a Mill Creek man.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/helicopter-rescue-cle-elum/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Watch a Helicopter Rescue After Cle Elum Avalanche"}}'> Watch a Helicopter Rescue After Cle Elum Avalanche

The King County Sheriff's Department released a video of the rescue of an injured snowmobiler from an avalanche that killed two others.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/avy-snowmobiler-mt-baker/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Avalanche Kills Snowmobiler Near Mt. Baker"}}'> Avalanche Kills Snowmobiler Near Mt. Baker

The 27-year-old Edmonds man triggered the slide that claimed his life.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/missing-snowshoer-rainier/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Missing Snowshoer Found Dead on Mt. Rainier"}}'> Missing Snowshoer Found Dead on Mt. Rainier

Officials think the 23-year-old fell into the Nisqually drainage below Paradise.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/northwest-top-6/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Start Planning for the Northwest's Top 6 Outdoor Experiences"}}'> Start Planning for the Northwest's Top 6 Outdoor Experiences

How many of these iconic Washington adventures have you checked off your list?

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/skier-dies-methow-avy/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Skier Dies in Methow Valley Avalanche"}}'> Skier Dies in Methow Valley Avalanche

The slide occurred in the backcountry near Setting Sun Mountain.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/dog-mountain-permits-gorge/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Dog Mountain to Require Hiking Permits This Year"}}'> Dog Mountain to Require Hiking Permits This Year

The new system is an attempt to alleviate crowding at the popular Columbia River Gorge trail.

>", "path": "https://www.backpacker.com/trips/fatal-fall-rattlesnake-ledge/", "listing_type": "category", "location": "list", "title": "Teen Hiker Killed in Fall off Rattlesnake Ledge"}}'> Teen Hiker Killed in Fall off Rattlesnake Ledge

The 16-year-old slipped on the icy trail and fell several hundred feet.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking in Washington

Home » A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacking in Washington

Whether you’re watching the sunrise on a dewy ridge in the North Cascades, taking a multi-day trip through the rainforest in the Olympics, overlooking one of the 700+ lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, or watching the colors dance on Mount Rainier at sunset, backpacking in Washington will leave you with phenomenal memories. The views are earned but the reward is always worth the sweat.

Below I’ll explain how to get out on the trail while having fun and staying safe!

volcano and wildflowers

Be Prepared

One of the common misconceptions of backpacking is thinking you need to cover a ton of miles to make it “worth it”. I’m here to tell you that miles do not matter. 

Picking somewhere close to home and a trail that is six miles or less is perfectly fine. Backpacking is not a competitive sport — we all just want to eat our fancy trail ramen on a calm side of the mountain after a safe journey in.

coffee in the mountains

Study the weather, then check again and again. Maybe one more time…

The Pacific Northwest is notorious for rapid weather changes, and in the mountains that only intensifies. So study the weather until the moment you leave. It’s okay to cancel a trip due to inclement weather. The trail will still be there on a better day! 

Study your route and trail plans. Identify water sources for filtering so you know how much water to bring, or if you need to carry enough for an entire trip.

Leave No Trace

There are 7 principles for Leave No Trace . These principles are ever-changing and will likely keep updating as time goes on. 

  • Plan ahead and prepare 
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces (established campsites, not on meadows)
  • Dispose of waste properly (pack it in, pack it out)
  • Leave what you find (don’t pick flowers, take a photo instead)
  • Minimize campfire impacts (needs to be cool to the touch before you leave)
  • Respect wildlife (don’t feed the wildlife and hang your food 15 ft from the ground or use a bear box)
  • Be considerate of others 

Do your own research! Do not depend on anyone but yourself, no matter how experienced your partner or guide is. You never know what can happen out there so make sure you’re self-reliant and capable of getting help if needed.

There are many apps and websites that have trip reports from hikers who recently went on the trail. This is an incredibly useful tool that can warn you of any trail obstacles, wildlife in the area, icy/snow conditions, etc. In Washington, a reliable source for trip reports is the Washington Trails Association website. 

hiking in the snow

Always leave your itinerary with someone you trust! If you have not returned by your expected time back, they can notify authorities and get help quickly. You’ll also want to write this information on a piece of paper and leave it under the driver seat of your vehicle.

What you should include:

  • Name of backpacker(s)
  • Any medical issues
  • Trailhead name of entry/exit
  • Planned trails and route
  • Any backup plans
  • Time expected back

If you want to let your loved ones know that you are safe while backpacking, there are great satellite communicators now on the market that allow you to be reachable in no-service areas.

Having the proper gear can make or break a trip, believe me. My first backpacking trip I carried almost 45lbs on my back, used a tarp as a rainfly and wore hand-me-down boots that were too small resulting in gnarly blisters. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to!

backpacking by wildflowers

The 10 Essentials

Probably the most important items in your pack. Some would say, the non-negotiables. These are the 10 essential items you should always bring when backpacking.

  • Water (and water filter or chemical treatment)
  • Food (high-energy/high-calorie)
  • Firestarter
  • First aid kit
  • Knife (or Swiss Army knife)
  • Flashlights/headlamps (extra batteries too)
  • Sunscreen/sunglasses

backpacker on trail

You want to invest in quality boots with good support that are a half size bigger than what you normally wear. You need larger boots because your feet naturally swell when hiking and slide forward when going downhill.

If you have too small of boots or are in your normal street size, you’re in for an uncomfortable journey.

Your pack size is probably not going to be the same as your shirt size.

Backpack size is determined by torso length and hip width. You can get these measurements done at any outdoor retailer or find tutorials on the internet to walk you through it at home! 

Once you know your measurements, aim for a pack around 50 – 65 liters. This is the optimal size for overnight and multi-night trips.

Base Layers

Invest in quality base layers such as wool or poly blends. Cotton is a notorious sweat-trapper, does not regulate body temperature and absorbs any moisture. So it’s an extremely good rule of thumb to always avoid cotton, especially here in the Pacific Northwest.

The same base layer rules apply when buying socks. No cotton, only wool or poly blends to wick the moisture away and keep your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Always bring extra socks; they will get damp as you sweat and any wetness can lead to blisters.

subalpine lake in washington

Tent/Shelter

All tents are not created equal! Investing in a quality backpacking tent is a game-changer for most people.

Backpacking tents are designed to be more lightweight. They typically have cross-styled and/or more structured pole designs that withstand mountain winds, a rainfly that extends to the ground to give a ‘garage’, and they pack down small for easy carry. 

You can go a step further to protect your tent by using a footprint. Footprints protect the “underbelly” of the tent body from abrasions from rocks/roots.  

Sleeping Bag and Pad

Most sleeping bags are categorized as synthetic or down and come in a “mummy” shape to align with your body to trap heat more efficiently and save weight.

Synthetic bags are great for Washington as they do not hold moisture, so if it gets damp you will not lose the insulation value. However, synthetic bags are known to be a little more heavy than down bags and do not have as low of temperature ratings.

Down bags are usually more lightweight and compress down much smaller than synthetic bags. However, if your down bag becomes damp or wet, it will hold onto that moisture for longer and become clumpy which results in losing insulation/warmth.

hiking beneath volcano in washington

Sleeping pads provide insulation between you and the ground. Before you ask, no, a yoga mat is not a sleeping pad. Foam pads are a great lightweight choice that can strap to the outside of your pack easily. Through-hikers and mountaineers alike swear by them. If you are a side sleeper or want more comfort in the backcountry, inflatable pads are the way to go!

backpacking stove and pot

Cooking Gear

Lightweight stoves and pots are essential for heating up water and making food. The most commonly used by backpackers today are stoves that use isobutane-propane fuel. Just twist the fuel onto the stove itself, get the spark going and away you go! Some of these stoves also come with integrated pots that offer nice wind protection. 

Isobutane-propane fuel stoves do not perform as well in the cold as it’s hard for the fuel to get distributed upwards towards the pot. If you are camping in the cold, a liquid fuel stove may be your best bet. These stoves require priming and are a bit more dangerous so I recommend doing your research! 

Don’t Overpack

Your backpack should never weigh over 20% of your body weight. This is the most common problem when new backpackers get started, and probably the hardest advice to take at first. Wear the same thing every day, do not bring extra clothes. Crazy right?

Bring one set of day clothes and one set of night clothes. The only ‘extras’ you need are socks and underwear. Of course if you’re going for a longer trip this may be different, but even for five days I only bring one extra shirt! 

Don’t bring extra or heavy food. Avoid canned foods and glass bottles, as they are big, bulky and take up a lot of trash space. However if you want to bring a beer, bring a can — this way you can easily smash it down.

Freeze-dried/dehydrated meals, ramen, bars, nuts/seeds, oatmeal packs, jerky and instant coffees are staples among most backpackers as they are lightweight and heavy in calories. If you want fresh food, only bring enough for the first day and try to avoid anything with peels. You need to pack out any leftover food — leave no trace! 

taking a break from backpacking

Additional Tips

Trekking poles aren’t just for people with knee and joint problems, they are incredibly beneficial for every backpacker. They help stabilize your body in uneven terrain and save your legs from getting tired more quickly by using your arms to distribute weight.

Bring a pair of camp shoes. Whether it be sandals, crocs, down booties, slippers etc. your feet will thank you!

Start packing ahead of time! For longer trips start a week in advance, for one or two-nighters 48 hours in advance is plenty.

Test your gear! There is nothing worse than hiking all the way into your site only to find out one of your tent poles is broken. Set up your tent, use your stove, break in your boots, inflate your sleeping pad, use your water filter and test your backpacking food before leaving home.

Check out our hiking necessities story for more tips on hiking and backpacking.

Backpacking is an incredibly rewarding experience, from the jaw-dropping views to realizing what your body is capable of. It reminds us of the value in the simple things in life that are often forgotten in our tech-rich world. 

So don’t forget to stop and smell the wildflowers, eat the huckleberries, take a million photos,  wake up early for sunrise and gaze at all those rugged ridgelines.

I’ll see you on the trails!

fluffy mountain wildflowers

Brooke Nicholson

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Best Beginner Backpacking Trips in Washington

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Point of Arches, Olympic National Park

Washington is a hiker’s paradise where you’ll find hundreds of trails that are great for both beginner and expert backpackers alike. In this diverse state, you can trek deep into the old-growth forests, along the rocky shorelines of Olympic, or high into the mountains in the North Cascades (also known as the American Alps!)

If you are looking for the perfect beginner backpacking trip in Washington, we’re here to help. So, we’ve compiled a list of seven of our favorite trails across Washington that are well-suited for new backpackers. The trips below range from two to six days so you can choose your own adventure.

Explore Washington with Award Winning Guides

how to choose an appropriate trail

While each new backpacker is entering into the sport with a different set of skills and fitness levels, we’ve crafted a list of trips with all beginner backpackers in mind. These trips fit a few criteria:

  • You’ll hike relatively low mileage for the length of the trip.
  • The trails don’t have extreme elevation gain for the region (However, Washington mountains are known for being steep and rugged due to the intense amount of rainfall, so you can’t escape elevation gain here!) 
  • You’ll travel on well-maintained trails and avoid tricky terrain like boulder fields. 
  • You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck, whether in the form of peaks, alpine lakes, or lush meadows. (Many people neglect this crucial factor.)

However, backpacking is never easy (or else we’d never do it!) — so,  if you want to maximize your fun, be sure to train for your backpacking trip .

1. Seven Lakes Basin, Olympic National Park

High Divide Olympic

Mileage: 19 miles out-and-back  | Length: 3 days | Elevation Gain/Loss: 4,000 feet

The High Dive Loop — also known as Seven Lakes Basin — in Olympic National Park takes you into an alpine wonderland dotted with glimmering blue lakes. En route, you’ll trek through verdant rainforests and past one of Olympic’s most famous waterfalls — Sol Duc Falls . For a three-day backpacking trip, this trail packs in stunning sights and plenty of wildlife sighting opportunities.

Why is it great for a beginner?

While this trail takes you high into the mountains, a three-day trip allows you to take your time and hike relatively low mileage each day. You’ll have ample time to relax at camp, dip your toes in the water, and hit a side trail for excellent views of the surrounding Olympic Range.

Also, once you reach the lakes basin, you’ll have access to vault toilets at Sol Duc Park, Heart Lake, Lunch Lake, and Deer Lake. While you should still know proper LNT protocol for dealing with human waste outdoors , you may not have to put the knowledge to use.

logistics and permits

For all backpacking trips in Olympic National Park, you’ll need to obtain a wilderness permit. This trail is popular, so these permits can be hard to obtain (so you may want to consider going guided! ) You can reserve in advance — which we recommend —  but 50% of the permits are also available for walk-up hikers.* The NPS charges a $6 fee for each reservation, as well as an $8/person recreation fee for backcountry use.

You’ll also need to store all food and scented items in park-approved bear canisters . You can rent these from the Port Angeles WIC or the South Shore Lake Quinault USFS Office, but they have limited supply.

* As of 2021 during the pandemic, you need to reserve all wilderness permits in advance as the Wilderness Information Centers are closed for in-person permits.

Guided Trip Options

Wildland Trekking offers a three-day Seven Lakes Basin Loop as an all-inclusive guided backpacking adventure package with expert guides, gear, meals, and transportation. Click below to check out the itinerary and this year’s trip dates, then contact us to get started!

Backpack Olympic National Park with a Guide

2. Enchanted Valley, Olympic National Park

Enchated Valley chalet in Olympic National Park

Mileage: 26 miles roundtrip | Length: 4 – 5 days | Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,700 feet

Imagine trekking for thirteen miles through an old-growth rainforest along the rumbling Quinault River. Elk graze on the opposite riverbed and black bear cubs climb high in the tree branches. Everywhere you look you see signs of life — banana slugs along the trail and mushrooms sprouting up under last year’s fallen leaves. When you reach the forest’s edge, you cross a narrow bridge high over the river before popping out into an expansive river valley. Waterfalls trickle down the steep cliffs and jagged peaks fill the skyline. Right in the middle of the grassy valley floor, an old chalet sits precariously close to the eroded riverbank. This magical destination is the Enchanted Valley (a fitting name), and it’s is an ideal first backpacking trip.

This trail features very low elevation gain per mile, so it is relatively beginner-friendly. You can break up the 13-mile one-way rainforest hike into two days and camp under the canopy of trees on your way out and back. Once you’re in the Enchanted Valley, you’ll have the choice of how you want to spend your time. You could take an ice bath in the river, chill at camp, or hike up to Anderson Pass (and to its glacier) without the weight of your pack. Whatever you choose, your surroundings will be spectacular.

The Quinault Rainforest — one of three in the park — is also known for its prime wildlife sighting opportunities. And, this trail has the right balance of regular travel and moments of solitude for a beginner. We know it may be intimidating to hike an empty trail, so you’ll feel reassured by the friendly faces along the way. But, when you reach the valley, you’ll have room to spread out from other backpackers.

For all backpacking trips in Olympic National Park, you’ll need to obtain a wilderness permit. You can reserve in advance — which we recommend —  but permits are also available for walk-up hikers.* The NPS charges a $6 fee for each reservation, as well as an $8/person recreation fee for backcountry use.

You’ll also need to store all food and scented items in park-approved bear canisters . You can rent these from the Port Angeles WIC or the South Shore Lake Quinault USFS Office (which you pass on your way to the trailhead), but they have limited supply.

Wildland Trekking offers both four- and five-day Enchanted Valley trips as all-inclusive guided backpacking adventure packages with expert guides, gear, meals, and transportation. Click below to check out the itinerary and this year’s trip dates, then contact us to get started!

Hike Enchanted Valley with a Guide

3. Baker Lake Trail

Baker Lake Trail, Washington

Mileage: varies (8 – 28 miles roundtrip) | Length: 2 – 3 days | Elevation Gain/Loss: minimal

Baker Lake is a low-elevation lake tucked in beneath the high peaks of the North Cascades. The Baker Lake Trail runs along the east bank from the south end to the north end of the lake, weaving through old-growth forests and stands of big-leaf maple. If you make it all the way to the northern trailhead, you’ll cross an impressive suspension bridge over the Baker River. When the clouds clear, you get fantastic views of Mount Baker — one of the five volcanoes in Washington.

Temperatures stay relatively moderate year-round, so if you’re willing to brave some cold rain, you could even hike this trail in the winter. However, this trail is ideal in the fall when the lake is refreshing and hues of yellow and orange start to appear on the treetops.

This low-elevation trail won’t get your heart rate pumping, but you’ll do some high-quality forest bathing as you walk between campsites. Choose between a short overnighter and a longer roundtrip trek depending on whether you’d rather pack in a camp chair and sit by the lakeshore or pack in the hiking miles. In addition to being beginner-friendly, it’s also a wonderful family-friendly backpacking option because of the low mileage and developed campsites with fire pit and vault toilets.

Some campsites along the route — like the Maple Grove Campground — have food storage boxes to keep your meals safe from critters and bears. This eliminates the need to carry a heavy bear canister or deal with an inconvenient food hang.

Additionally, you can hike this trail in almost any weather. Even if rain is in the forecast on your only spare weekend, the dense forest canopy will keep you relatively dry. Plus, rain enhances the moody PNW atmosphere.

You do not need any permits to hike the Baker Lake trail. If you plan to hike the trail one-way, you need a car shuttle to pick you up on the north end. However, this is unnecessary and you have plenty of options for an out-and-back backpacking trip of reasonable mileage.

4. Point of Arches, Olympic National Park

Point of Arches, Olympic National Park

Mileage:  8 miles out-and-back  |  Length:  2 – 3 days |  Elevation Gain/Loss:  200 feet

This trail was on our list of the 11 best beginner backpacking trips in the US! So we figured we’d include it here, too, so we didn’t leave you out of the loop.

Point of Arches is a perfect beginner backpacking destination on the edge of Olympic National Park, accessed via the Makah Reservation. You can hike this trail as an overnight, but if you have a third day to spare, you won’t be disappointed by the abundance of tidepools to explore and wildlife to observe. The sea-stack studded coastline is complemented by lush forests, which are home to banana slugs, Roosevelt elk, and black bears. Each night, as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean and you fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves, you’ll start scheming up your next backpacking trip.

WHY IS IT GREAT FOR A BEGINNER?

This relatively flat trail gives you quick access to a stunning beach environment, without much hard hiking or elevation gain. In fact, we offer this as a family-friendly trip option . You’ll get the pay-off of a bigger backpacking trip, but without all the work. So, pack a chair and relax on the beach as seals play in the coastal waters and eagles fly along the bluffs hunting for fish.

Unlike many beach destinations, the campsite near Point of Arches sits along a creek, so you don’t have to pack in water for your whole trip — just a water filtration device.

LOGISTICS AND PERMITS

You’ll need to secure two permits to make this trip a reality. First, you’ll need to pick up a  Makah Recreation Pass ; it costs $10 and is good for an entire year. You can get one in Neah Bay at the marina, the general store, the mini-mart, and the tribal center, among other areas. Also, as this trail enters Olympic National Park, you will need a Wilderness Camping Permit  for any overnight stays in the park. Make sure you reserve this in advance. However, if you join a guided trip, we take care of all permits and reservations for you!

*As of February 2021, this trail is closed due to COVID-19, as are many of the coastal areas of the park because they are on tribal lands. If you’re looking for an alternate route in Olympic National Park, the Seven Lakes Basin backpacking loop  is a great — yet more difficult — alternative.

GUIDED TRIP OPTIONS

Wildland Trekking offers this Point of Arches trip as a guided backpacking adventure package with expert guides, gear, meals, transportation — all included!

Hike Point of Arches with a Guide

5. Ancient Lakes, Eastern Washington

Mileage:  4 miles out-and-back |  Length:  2 days | Elevation Gain/Loss:  minimal

If you’re searching for the perfect early-season overnighter, look no further than Ancient Lakes near Quincy, Washington. This desert oasis is close enough to Seattle that you can squeeze in a quick weekend trip even if you only have Saturday and Sunday to play. As you wander among the columnar basalt rocks, you’ll watch waterfalls splash over the edges and create green streaks of life on the walls. Once you arrive at the lake, you’ll find many paths to explore the area. And nearly every campsite you find has great views of the dark night sky.

Low mileage and minimal elevation gain make this a great trip for beginners, kids, and the pup. While you do need to pack in all your water, you shouldn’t be deterred because you only have a 2-mile hike to the lake. If you only have a short weekend to spare, this trail will get you into the backcountry in no time!

Pack in all the water you’ll need for your overnight trip! Even though you are hiking to lakes, all of the water is irrigation water from nearby farmlands. Agricultural runoff pollutes these water sources, so you’re better off bringing potable water from home. Also, you may want to avoid this one during the hot summer season. If you do backpack in this area during the summer, keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.

You do not need a permit to camp overnight in the Quincy Wildlife Recreation Area. However, you’ll need a  Discover Pass  to park at the trailhead.

All-inclusive Backpacking Adventures

6. Ross Lake to Desolation Peak, North Cascades

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 Mileage: 32 miles point-to-point | Length: 6 days | Elevation Gain/Loss: 3,300 feet with pack (+ 4,000 ft with day pack)

Most beginner backpackers don’t sign up for a six-day backpacking trip — but hey, you may want to consider it. If you want to spend six days immersed in pristine wilderness, the Ross Lake to Desolation Peak itinerary is a great introduction to North Cascades National Park. This trail takes you along the east bank of Ross Lake, offering campsites with panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Along the way, you’ll drop your heavy pack and summit Desolation Peak with only a day pack. This destination is unique because it is the site of a historic fire lookout where Jack Kerouac lived in 1956 while writing The Dharma Bums . At the end of your trip, you’ll take a water taxi across Ross Lake back to the trailhead. We don’t want to give away too much, but after six days of hiking, you’ll feel like you’re moving at lightning speed when the taxi starts moving.

This wilderness-intensive trail is a great option for beginners looking to spend almost a week backpacking. (If you think a long-distance thru-hike sounds interesting, a six-day trip is a great launching point!) The elevation gain with a pack is relatively minimal, but you’ll also experience the excitement of summiting a peak in the North Cascades. Plus, as this is a point-to-point hike, you’ll be hiking new ground every day. At the end of your trip, you’ll really feel like you went somewhere. In fact, you’ll end up only a few miles from the Canadian border.

In other areas of the North Cascades, steep terrain, technical glaciers, and rocky terrain deter beginner backpackers. But along the bank of Ross Lake, you’ll experience the same serenity without the necessary technical skills. This trip is long, but it is achievable for backpackers of all ability levels.

Backcountry permits are required year-round for all backpacking trips in the North Cascades National Park. You can make advanced reservations for the summer season from May 15th through April 15th. After that period, all permits are first-come, first-served. You’ll need to show up at the Marblemount Ranger Station the day before or the day of your trip to arrange and pick up your wilderness permit. If you did not make advance reservations during the allotted time frame, you may need to stay flexible with your itinerary as slots fill up.

To backpack the Ross Lake Trail to Desolation Peak unguided, you need to arrange a water taxi to pick you up on the final day of your trip. Or, if you run the itinerary in reverse, to drop you off on the first day. You can make advanced reservations (required) for the water taxi by calling the Ross Lake Resort or submitting a request on their website.

Wildland Trekking offers a six-day guided Ross Lake – Desolation Peak backpacking trip . You’ll have gear provided, meals cooked, and permits arranged. Plus, you don’t have to worry about organizing a car shuttle! If you’re new to backpacking and want to learn the skills to one day branch out on your own, a guided trip can give you the confidence to hike into the wilderness with only your backpack.

Ross Lake Backpacking Adventures

7. Chain Lakes Loop, Mt. Baker Area

Chain Lakes Loop and Ptarmigan Trail near Mount Baker in Washington

Mileage: 6.5-mile loop | Length: 2 – 3 days | Elevation Gain/Loss:  1,800

Want a secret into one of the best beginner backpacking trips in all of Washington? The Chain Lakes Loop is a stellar day hiking trail with non-stop views. But, stay overnight and you’ll experience this popular trail in solitude. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to catch sunrise and sunset on Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. Look out for marmots, pikas, and mountain goats — as most of this trail travels through prime wildlife habitat. Seriously, you can’t beat the diversity and scenery of this loop hike. We’ll continue to rave about it until everyone is tired of listening.

This low-mileage hike is perfect for an overnight. With campsites situated halfway along the loop, you can get a late start and still make it to camp in time for sunset. Plus, you’ll find backcountry vault toilets at Mazama, Iceberg, and Hayes Lakes, making it easy for you to leave no trace.

This trail has just enough challenge to keep it interesting. While the climb up to Herman Saddle will get your blood pumping, the views will distract you with each step.

You do not need a permit to backpack the Chain Lakes Loop. However, you do need a Northwest Forest Pass or Annual Park Pass to park at the trailhead.

Snow lingers late into the season here, so don’t attempt this hike before mid-July!

About Hannah Singleton

guided backpacking trips washington state

Hannah is a content strategist, writer, and guide for Wildland Trekking Company. She was born and raised on the East Coast but currently resides in Salt Lake City, UT where she spends her time exploring the wonders of the Rocky Mountain West. You can check out more of her freelance writing at www.hannah-singleton.com.

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Table of contents

8 Iconic Pacific Northwest Backpacking Trips

guided backpacking trips washington state

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guided backpacking trips washington state

The Pacific Northwest is an adventure junkie’s paradise. It’s a breathtakingly diverse playground of craggy granite peaks, high alpine lakes, meadows socked with wildflowers, a rugged windswept coastline, and more shades of green than your eyeballs can handle.

With so many stunning trails to choose from, it can sometimes be tough to settle on the next one. That’s why we put together this list of our personal favorite Pacific Northwest backpacking trips. These are some of the most iconic and spectacular trails the PNW has to offer, so dust off your pack and add one of these gems to your summer adventure list.

Wonderland Trail

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  • Length : 93 miles
  • Days needed : 8-13 days (most people take around 10 days)
  • Location : Mount Rainier National Park, WA
  • Best time to hike : Late July to mid-September
  • Difficulty : Strenuous

The Wonderland trail circumnavigates massive and spectacular Mount Rainier over the course of 93 miles. It’s a very challenging hike, with over 23,000 feet of elevation change, but the rewards are plentiful. With breathtaking glacier views, wildflower meadows, pristine lakes, and miles of lush rainforests, the ever-changing landscape of the Wonderland Trail will not disappoint.

Permits for this very popular hike can be secured in advance through a yearly lottery system, though the park does save some permits for walk-in travelers.

Wonderland Maps & Guides

  • CleverHiker Wonderland Trail Backpacking Guide – Our quick guide to assist you in planning your trip around Rainier.
  • FarOut Wonderland Trail Guide – This popular app has user-generated comments on water sources, campsites, and important landmarks.
  • Wilderness Trip Planning Map – This basic map from the National Park Service will give you a general idea of campsite locations and the distances between them.
  • Green Trails Map 269S – Mount Rainier Wonderland – This is a fantastic map for hiking the Wonderland Trail. It’s a detailed topographical map that’s ideal for use along the trail.
  • Hiking the Wonderland Book – A complete guide to the Wonderland by a Washington native that’s hiked the trail seven times. An excellent source of information.
  • Plan & Go Wonderland Book – A comprehensive guide that contains everything you need to know for hiking the 93-mile Wonderland Trail.
  • Backpacking Washington Book – This hike is covered in the Backpacking Washington book as well, just not in quite as much detail.

TIMBERLINE TRAIl

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  • Length : ~40 miles
  • Days needed : 3-5 days (most people complete the loop in 4 days)
  • Location : Mount Hood Area, OR
  • Best time to hike : End of July to late September

The Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood is one of Oregon’s most iconic and scenic trails. This 40-mile loop is a fantastic way to experience the immense size and beauty of Mt. Hood. On the Timberline you’ll encounter lush old-growth forests, pristine alpine waterfalls, wildflower-filled meadows, towering craggy glaciers, rough volcanic landscapes, and some of the finest cascade views around. The hiking certainly won’t be easy, with plenty of ups and downs along the way, but in the end, the rewards are well worth it.

Timberline Maps & Guides

  • CleverHiker Timberline Trail Backpacking Guide – Our complete guide to hiking the Timberline Trail.
  • FarOut Timberline Trail Guide – A smartphone app with all the user-generated info you need for navigating the Timberline Trail.
  • Green Trails Map 462SX – Mt Hood Climbing Map – This is an excellent, detailed map for the Timberline Trail.

Backpacking Oregon – This hike is covered in depth in the Backpacking Oregon book.

ENCHANTMENT LAKES

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  • Length : 19 miles from Stuart Lakes Trailhead to Snow Lakes Trailhead
  • Days needed : 3-4 days to explore the entire area
  • Location : Leavenworth, WA
  • Best time to hike : Permit timeframe is May 15th – October 31st

Washington’s Enchantment Lakes are a truly magical sight to see. They reside in an area where immense granite peaks, majestic mountain goats, and crystal clear alpine lakes are hidden around every corner. Be ready for big climbs and jagged peaks along well-maintained trails. For the ambitious hiker, there are some incredible side trips, such as the can’t-miss climb to the top of Little Annapurna for jaw-dropping panoramic views. This area won’t be too crowded because of the strict permitting process, but securing overnight permits during peak season will require good luck. This hike should be on every backpackers bucket list.

Enchantments Maps & Guides

  • CleverHiker Enchantment Lakes Backpacking Guide – Our complete guide to backpacking the Enchantment Lakes.
  • Green Trails Enchantments Map 209s – This is an excellent, detailed map for the Enchantment Lakes area.
  • Backpacking Washington – This hike is covered in depth in the Backpacking Washington book.

WALLOWA RIVER LOOP

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  • Length : 36 miles
  • Days needed : 4-5 days
  • Location : Wallawa-Whitman National Forest – Eagle Cap Wilderness, OR
  • Best time to hike : Late July to September
  • Difficulty : Moderate to difficult

The Wallowa Mountain Range is one of the finest areas to backpack in Oregon. This loop will take you through the stunning (and popular) Lakes Basin Area and over some breathtaking mountain passes. Over the course of this loop you’ll encounter crystal clear lakes and streams, wildflower-socked meadows, and granite peaks that will make you wonder if you’re still in Oregon. There are also worthy side trips to the summit of Eagle Cap and Matterhorn that will further solidify your appreciation for the Wallowas. Although this trail sees its fair share of hikers, it’s still well worth the trip.

Wallowa Maps & Guides

  • CleverHiker Wallowa River Loop Backpacking Guide – Our complete guide to backpacking the Wallowa River Loop. There are two main topo maps for this area – the Imus Geographics and U.S. Forest Service maps .
  • Hiking Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness – A practical and thorough book about Eagle Cap trails that’s complete with maps, descriptions, elevation profiles, and photos.

HIGH DIVIDE – SEVEN LAKES BASIN LOOP

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  • Length : 19 mile loop
  • Days needed : 2-4 days
  • Location : Olympic National Park, WA
  • Best time to hike : Mid-July to September
  • Difficulty : Moderate
  • Note : Bear canisters  are required for this hike.

Olympic National Park has some of the most stunningly diverse backpacking trails in the Pacific Northwest and the High Divide Trail is one of it’s most scenic. Though this trek is incredibly beautiful, it’s definitely not a secret. This trail winds its way through old growth forests as you climb into dramatic high alpine scenery. Once you reach the lakes basin, you will be spoiled with pristine pools, gorgeous meadows, and stunning views of Mt. Olympus.

Permits are limited for overnight camping between May 1st and September 30th, but there are also some permits given on a first-come, first-served basis. And if you really want to go all out, you can end your trek with a visit to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort to rest those weary bones.

High Divide Maps & Guides

  • Best Hike High Divide Loop Guide – A great blog post with detailed information on everything you need to know before hitting the trail.
  • Green Trails Map 133S – This is an excellent, detailed map for the the Seven Lakes Basin.

National Geographic Map – This is a detailed map of the entire Olympic National Park.If you want an all-encompassing map and don’t mind carrying the extra bulk, this is a good resource.

Hiking Olympic National Park – This is a great resource that covers 66 of the best trails the ONP has to offer, ranging from day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips.

Three Sisters Loop

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  • Length : ~50 miles, depending on trailhead
  • Days needed : 3-6 days
  • Location : Three Sisters Wilderness, OR
  • Best time to hike : Late July to October

This 50-mile loop circles the North, Middle, and South Sister volcanoes, providing a fantastic array of diverse terrain. Take this amazing journey and wander through rugged volcanic landscapes complete with expansive pumice fields, pristine melt lakes, quiet old-growth forests, newly recovering burn areas, peaceful wildflower meadows, and glossy obsidian streams. This is truly an Oregon adventure not to be missed.

Three Sisters Maps & Guides

CleverHiker Three Sisters Loop Backpacking Guide – Our complete guide to hiking the Three Sisters Loop.

Green Trails Maps 622 SX – This is an excellent, detailed maps for the Three Sisters Loop.

GOAT ROCKS – GOAT LAKE LOOP

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  • Length : 13.5 miles (additional miles along the PCT will add time but is well worth it.)
  • Days needed : 2-3 days
  • Location : Goat Rocks Wilderness, OR
  • Best time to hike : July to October

With panoramic views of St. Helens, Rainier and Adams, the Goat Lake Loop is an ideal backpacking trip for those with limited time. Traverse through wildflower meadows and rocky ridges as you ascend to beautiful and frigid Goat Lake. There are a few epic campsites on the ridge near Goat Lake, but you may have to get there early to snag one. If you have more time, set up a basecamp near Snowgrass Flats and hike north along the Pacific Crest Trail. That’s where you’ll find some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the area: mountain vistas in all directions with a knife ridge hike and, if you’re lucky, mountain goats.

Goat Rocks Maps & Guides

  • Oregon Hikers – Goat Lake Loop – This is a great play-by-play description of the Goat Lake Loop with information on mileage, a map, and trip reports.
  • Green Trails Map 303S – A detailed backpacking map of the Goat Rocks Area.

Olympic Coast Trail

guided backpacking trips washington state

  • Length : Varies (73 miles of possible trails)
  • Days needed : Varies
  • Location : Olympic National Park Coastal Area, WA
  • Best time to hike : Year round, weather permitting. Winter storms can elevate tides and make beach walking hazardous, so closely monitor weather reports before your hike.
  • Note : Bear canisters are required for this hike. Also, carry a tide chart and know how to read it when camping along the coast.

Many people visiting the Olympic National Park choose to hike into the Hoh Rain Forest or climb into the glaciated peaks surrounding Mt. Olympus. While both of those trips are awe-inspiring in their own right, don’t discount the unique experience of backpacking along the Olympic Coast. You will see wild desolate beaches, endless sea stacks, and daunting headlands with the chance to spot starfish and sea anemones in tide pools along the way. These 73 miles of rugged, undeveloped coastline are uniquely challenging, but very rewarding. Hike from one deserted beach to the next through a series of overland trails, many of which employ ropes and ladders to help you climb the eroded embankments.

Camping is permitted along the coast, except between the Quillayute River and Ellen Creek. The area between Shi Shi Beach and Ozette is the most stunning, however if you venture farther away you’ll find more solitude. Along the coast there are some forested campsites and you can also camp on the beach, just make absolutely certain you’re well above the high tide line.

National Park Service: Olympic Coast Routes – Our favorite source of information on various coastal routes and trails.

Backpacking Washington – Hikes along the Olympic National Park coastal regions are covered in depth in the Backpacking Washington book as well.

Green Trails Maps 98S , 130S , and 163S – Once you decide which portion of the coastal route you are going to tackle, pick the corresponding map and you should be good to go.

PNW Backpacking Considerations

Leave no trace.

No matter where your next adventure takes you, please follow wilderness regulations and help keep our wild spaces pristine for years to come. Leave no trace y’all.

DIFFICULTY RATING

Difficulty depends on your experience, physical fitness, pack weight, trail conditions, and weather. It’s nearly impossible for us to make individual difficulty recommendations without knowing you, so please think about those considerations when planning your hike.

PACKING LIGHT

We love lightweight backpacking because it makes hiking more enjoyable. And in the PNW, keeping your pack light makes a huge difference on climbs and descents. Our gear guides are dedicated to recommending exceptional lightweight equipment to help minimize pack weight and maximize comfort.

Many of the trails on this list are iconic and therefore popular. Hiking during the week or outside of peak season will reduce the number of travelers you see on the trail. Having said that, the wilderness is far from Portland or Seattle, so you’ll have plenty of time to yourself as well.

The trails listed in this guide are generally well-maintained and well-marked. That said, you should always carry a topographical map and compass in the wilderness and know how to use them. If you need a navigation refresher, check out our video tutorials, Navigation #1 – Staying Found, and Navigation #2 – Map, Compass, & GPS.

July and August are generally great for wildflowers in the Pacific Northwest, but that’s also the time when mosquitoes will be the worst. Use a combination of permethrin on your clothing and a small amount of 30% DEET for full protection.

Black bears are common in the Pacific Northwest, so proper food storage is very important. You’re less likely to see bears on popular trails, but there will still be small critters trying to get into your food supply, and they’ll happily chew through your expensive gear to get after it. Make sure to carry a food storage container or know how to hang a bear bag properly. Bear canisters and Ursacks are the most effective and easiest storage methods. Remember: proper food storage is for the safety of you and the bears.

It’s no secret that it rains a lot in the PNW. That’s the main reason it’s so green and lush, but continuous rain can also be a major bummer on backcountry trips. Hypothermia is a very real danger when hiking in the rain, so learning how to stay safe, dry, and happy in the rain is a key PNW skill. Pay close attention to the weather forecast before your trip and always be prepared for wet weather. And if you need some fresh gear, check out our guides on rain jackets and rain pants .

BACKPACKING BOOKS

The Backpacking Oregon and Backpacking Washington books are two of our favorite resources for Pacific Northwest trip planning. They feature detailed information on the iconic trails in this article as well as some lesser known yet equally worthy hikes. If you find yourself in the PNW backcountry often, find a space on your bookshelf for both.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this list of our favorite Pacific Northwest backpacking trips. We absolutely love exploring the PNW and we hope these treks help you do the same. Please remember to hike responsibly and help preserve our beautiful wild spaces for generations to come.

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Why trust us?

We understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously.

  • Our recommendations are completely independent and based on hands-on experience.
  • We test outdoor gear for a living – we’ve logged over 20,000 trail miles and 1,000 nights in the wilderness.
  • Our team has thru-hiked some of the most iconic long trails, including the Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail, Long Trail, Oregon Coast Trail, Arizona Trail, Pinhoti Trail, Superior Hiking Trail, as well as extensive peak bagging, and international treks.
  • We field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
  • We travel to industry trade shows to stay up-to-date on product innovations.
  • We continuously update our guides throughout the year and when new products launch.
  • We treat recommendations to our readers as if they were for our family and friends.
  • We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to feedback. If you think we’ve missed a worthy product or got something wrong, we’d love to know about it.

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8 of the best day trips from Seattle

Becky Ohlsen

Dec 11, 2023 • 11 min read

guided backpacking trips washington state

Explore Washington State and beyond with these great day trips from Seattle © Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

With everything Seattle has to offer, it can be hard to imagine wanting to get out of the city for even just an hour or two.

Museums can be saved for rainy days, and it would be a shame to spend sunshine hours in craft breweries when there’s such gorgeous scenery to enjoy beyond the city limits. 

Whether you need a break from the tourist crowds and bustle of downtown , are looking for a serious hike , or have a pup threatening all the zoomies after being dragged to yet another farmers market, there are plenty of opportunities to get out of Seattle for the day.  In fact, some of the most breathtaking scenery, charming towns and picturesque back roads in Washington state lie within an easy drive or ferry ride out of the city. Here are some of our favorite day trips from Seattle.

Colorful wildflowers cover a field with a mountain in the distance

1. Mt Rainier National Park

Travel time: 2 hours

The drive – about two hours, depending on the route and traffic conditions – makes this a bit of an investment for a day trip, but you can’t be this close to one of the most impressive mountains in the United S tates and not go see it.

The views are spectacular, whether it's a sunny spring day with wildflowers in bloom, a moody, cloudy afternoon, or a snowy winter’s day. 

You could easily spend weeks hiking in the Mt Rainier area (permits permitting), but you can develop a healthy appreciation for the place through any of the several day hikes from Paradise , which is home to the relaxing Paradise Inn and a visitor center. 

Paradise also makes for a fun Seattle day trip during the winter because it's one of the most popular areas in the park for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding. It's also the only area in the park that allows sledding. Bring good shoes, warm clothes and a camera. Try to visit midweek to avoid crowds.

How to get to Mt Rainier National Park from Seattle:  The park has year-round access via the Nisqually Entrance, just under 90 miles and an almost two-hour drive from Seattle along SR-706. If you use GPS, use the address 39000 State Route 706 E, Ashford, WA 98304, or you’ll otherwise be taken to the park headquarters in Ashford.

From the Nisqually Entrance, it’s another 29 miles via Longmire to the Henry M Jackson Visitor Center in Paradise, where you can find parking and several trailheads. Note that in winter, the road between Longmire and Paradise is closed at night.

If your idea of a successful day trip to Mt Rainier involves hiking and biking, the Carbon River Entrance is a little over 60 miles – nearly 1½ hours – along SR-165. No cars are allowed beyond this entrance, only pedestrians and cyclists. 

You can also enter the park on its east side during the summer. It’s just under 82 miles – 1¾ hours – from Seattle to the White River Entrance via SR-167 and SR-410. From there, it’s about 18 miles, or half an hour’s drive, via SR-123 to Ohanapecosh . There are no public transit connections from Seattle to the park.

A horse and carriage stand outside a Bavarian-style beer house

2. Leavenworth

Travel time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Adorable and unashamedly touristy Leavenworth has oodles of charm all by itself, but the imitation-Bavarian town’s idyllic wilderness setting is what really puts it over the top. Grab a beer and some brats at München Haus , then choose your adventure: the hiking, rafting and rock climbing here are all fantastic. 

Leavenworth is the gateway to the Wenatchee River and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness , where you’ll find some of the best hiking in the state, including several easily accessible day hikes.

How to get to Leavenworth from Seattle:  The 117-mile drive east along US Hwy 2 via Monroe, through the Cascades and over Stevens Pass, is truly spectacular. It takes under 2½ hours, but you’ll want to stop often for photo ops.

The route via the Snoqualmie Pass along the I-90 takes about the same time, even though it stretches over 135 miles. Several bus companies serve the route between Seattle and Leavenworth, or you can take the Amtrak train, although the three to four-hour bus journey makes it less feasible for a day trip.

People sit on a ferry as it transports them towards an island

3. Bainbridge Island

Travel time: 1 hour

Bainbridge Island is a favorite vacation destination for Seattleites and visitors from further afield, but the island is close enough to the city that it contains a healthy full-time population, many of whom commute to Seattle by ferry.

It’s the quickest and easiest way to get out on the water from the big city, and the ride over provides stunning views of both Seattle and the Sound. Lazily stroll around, tour some waterfront taverns like Doc’s Marina Grill , taste wines and maybe rent a bike and cycle around the invitingly flat countryside.

As far as family day trips from Seattle go, it doesn’t get much easier than this; the ferry ride is short enough that kids won’t get bored, and once they’re on the island, they’ll love exploring the Kids Discovery Museum .

Lively pubs and great Washington wines are the order of the day on Bainbridge. The island doesn’t stay up very late, but you won’t go thirsty when it comes to happy hour or leisurely cocktails in the evening.  Bainbridge Vineyards is a quaint and certified organic winemaker about 5 miles from the Bainbridge ferry terminal off Hwy 305 – perfect for a bike ride on a sunny day.

How to get to Bainbridge Island from Seattle:  Washington State Ferries run several times a day from Pier 52 in Seattle. The crossing takes about 35 minutes.

Late summer sunset over the Marina in Bellingham Washington, with lots of boats docked and a flowering bush in the foreground

4. Bellingham

Travel time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Bellingham is underrated as a fun town for nightlife, especially if you’re into craft beer. Try the Kölsch at Chuckanut Brewery , a Bellingham Blonde ale at Boundary Bay and a Cosmic Dreams IPA at Aslan Depot , a historic bus and streetcar station renovated to look and feel like a cozy old English parlor.

If you like your adult beverages with a side of culture, start with a visit to the Whatcom Museum , a three-building collection of local and regional art, culture and history.

You can also wander the well-preserved Fairhaven neighborhood with its shops, restaurants and lovely bookstore, Village Books . Alternatively, drive 15 miles north to the traditionally Dutch town of Lynden, which has a pioneer history museum , bakery and historic hotel .

To stretch this day trip a little, opt for scenic Chuckanut Drive on the way there or back. This byway hugs the coastline between Bellingham and Mt Vernon, with opportunities to stop for hiking in Larrabee State Park and oyster-eating at the Oyster Bar in Bow along the way.

How to get to Bellingham from Seattle:  Head north on I-5 for about 90 miles (1½ hours) to Bellingham. For the more scenic Chuckanut Drive (SR-11) option, take exit 231 off I-5 just north of Mt Vernon. This route is about the same distance but adds around 15 minutes to the drive – if you don’t stop to admire the scenery.

A Canadian flag flies above a large ivy-covered building on the waterfront

5. Victoria, Canada

Travel time: 3 hours

At around a 2¾-hour ride on the fast ferry, Victoria stretches the definition of a "day trip," but the British Columbia provincial capital is worth the effort if you remember to bring your valid passport and meet the requirements for entry into Canada . 

With double-decker buses, afternoon tea, homes that look like castles and pubs with names such as the Sticky Wicket and the Penny Farthing , Victoria has long traded on its British affiliations. 

But while the fish and chips remain first class, and summer cricket games still enliven Beacon Hill Park , the days when Victoria was more British than Britain are long gone. In Victoria 2.0, the food culture embraces fusion, the beer leans toward craft brews and the abundance of bicycles resembles  the Netherlands  more than England .

Compared to the glassy skyscrapers of Seattle, Victoria is more laid-back and low-rise. On balmy summer days, a distinct holiday atmosphere takes over as people pile off the ferries to escape the mayhem of the mainland and forget their work. Sure, Victoria might have become trendier and more sophisticated in recent years, but in pace and essence it remains comfortingly old-fashioned.

How to get to Victoria from Seattle:  Victoria Clipper runs a passenger-only, high-speed catamaran from Pier 69 in downtown Seattle to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. There’s one round-trip a day; check the website for departure times as these may vary according to season.

A high arched bridge connects two islands in the fall

6. Whidbey Island

Travel time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Whidbey Island is an idyllic emerald escape beloved by stressed-out Seattleites. At 41 miles, Whidbey is the longest island on the US West Coast. While it’s not as detached or nonconformist as the San Juans (a bridge connects it to adjacent Fidalgo Island at its northernmost point), life is certainly slower, quieter and more pastoral here. 

Having six state parks is a bonus. There is also a plethora of B&Bs, two historic fishing villages (Langley and Coupeville), famously tasty mussels and a thriving community of artists and artisans. Also on the island is the US Naval Air Station that dominates Oak Harbor. 

Whidbey is a particularly desirable day trip during the fall harvest: grapes, apples and pumpkins abound, as do cider and pumpkin beer. The season also brings wild mushroom foraging tours, which, unless you’re an expert, are best to join if you want to pick some. In the words of Terry Pratchett, “All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once.”

Emerging from Fidalgo Island's flat pastures, the precipitous Deception Pass cliffs are overlooked by a famous bridge made all the more dramatic by the churning, angry water below. The bridge has two steel arches spanning Canoe Pass and Deception Pass, joined by a central support on Pass Island. Built during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), it was considered an engineering feat in its day. The 5.5-sq-mile park also spans the channel, with facilities on the north and south flanks of the passage.

How to get to Whidbey Island from Seattle: You'll need a car and to take a ferry ride. Take I-5 north and SR-525 from Seattle to Mukilteo; depending on the route and traffic conditions, this trip will be around 40 to 50 minutes. Washington State Ferries run 20-minute trips between Mukilteo and Clinton throughout the day. The Sound Transit train on the Sounder North N-line isn’t a good choice for a day trip since it departs from Seattle twice in the late afternoon and returns from Everett twice in the early morning.

Rows of red tulips Washington State

7. La Conner

Travel time: 1 hour 15 minutes

A small town with a surprising number of things to see and do, La Conner is practically made for a day trip. It has a compact, walkable center lined with shops, pubs and restaurants, a spring tulip festival that shows off its pastoral surroundings and a top-notch art museum in the heart of town. 

Its position alongside the lazy Swinomish Channel adds a cool maritime feel. And at around a 1¼-hour drive, it’s one of those short trips from Seattle that you can do without spending most of your day on the road.

Arguably the best time to visit La Conner is in April when the tulip fields around town paint themselves in bands of vivid purples, reds and yellows. Weekend traffic can be discouraging at this time, but the blooms are worth it.

Once you’ve had your fill of flowers, wander downtown toward the tiny marina. Stop in and browse at Handmade La Conner , where artisans in a back-room workshop make all the coffee mugs, textiles, fancy soaps and letterpress cards on offer. Be sure to save time for an exploration of the Museum of Northwest Art , which has an outstanding collection of regional paintings and sculptures and mounts several temporary exhibits each year.

How to get to La Conner from Seattle: From Seattle, take I-5 north about 55 miles to exit 221, then follow signs another 10 miles west along Fir Island Rd to La Conner. There are no bus or train services to La Conner.

8. San Juan Islands

Travel time: 3 to 4 hours

The sleepy San Juans exist in striking contrast with Seattle’s sensory overload, and they’re easier to reach than you might think (though if you can spare the time, an overnight stay is even better than a day trip). 

It may be nearly a four-hour ferry ride from Seattle to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, but the voyage itself is one of the highlights – you can make the trip as part of a whale-watching tour, but it’s a gorgeous ride even without the whale element. 

On arrival, your entertainment options include mellow bicycling, paddling around in a kayak, eating decadent, locally sourced meals from restaurants like Doe Bay Café , and just hanging out. This day trip is also fantastic to make with your dog; there are several off-leash dog parks, including San Juan Islands Sculpture Park .

How to get to the San Juan Islands from Seattle:  From mid-April to mid-October, the scenic San Juan Clipper goes directly to Friday Harbor from the Seattle waterfront’s Pier 69 in 3¾ hours.

Or you can drive the 85 miles or so to Anacortes – it should take a maximum of two hours, depending on the route and traffic conditions – and hop a Washington State Ferry to Lopez Island (45 minutes), Shaw Island (55 minutes), Orcas Island (a little over an hour) or San Juan Island (an hour). Schedules vary by season, so check the WSF website for the latest. 

Note that for the San Juan Clipper, any pets need to be in a carrier, and you will need to book the trip in advance. For the Washington State Ferry, passengers can bring their leashed dogs into the exterior passenger areas, including the shelter decks.

This article was first published Jul 16, 2019 and updated Dec 11, 2023.

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IMAGES

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  1. Washington State Hiking Treks & Tours

    Valleys and Glaciers of the North Cascades. Location: Washington Hiking Tours. Area: North Cascades Guided Hikes. Trip type: Guided Backpacking Trip. Difficulty: Highlights: Max 3 Guests, Incredible Camps, Abundant Wildlife …. 3 Days. from $1645.

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    Baker Lake Trail | Best Backpacking Trips in Washington. Backpacking Washington: Worst Night of Sleep in the Backcountry goes to…. 9. Thunder Mountain Lakes. 10. Hoh River Trail. Best Backpacking Trips in Washington: Worst Mosquitoes Award goes to…. 11. Rainbow-McAlester Loop.

  7. Hiking & Backpacking Trips Washington

    Overnight Backpacking Course. Spend two days backpacking through some of Washington's most scenic and peaceful places while learning the skills you'll need to become a proficient backpacker. Book Now. Learn More. From $125. Beginner. Ages 16+.

  8. Top Washington State Backpacking Trips

    All-inclusive Washington Trekking Trips. 3. Cascade Pass/Sahale Glacier/Horseshoe Basin. Trip Overview. The North Cascades National Park is an amazing hiking destination less than three hours from Seattle, but with a fraction of the visitors as other parks in the area. The backpacking trips in this park will lead you through old-growth forests, wildflower-filled meadows, into some of the best ...

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  10. Olympic Hiking Co.

    Olympic Hiking Co. provides guided hiking tours, backpacker trailhead shuttles, and backpacking trips in Olympic National Park. Our Naturalist Hiking Guides lead day trips to the Hoh Rain Forest, Pacific Coast, Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Falls, and beyond. ... Washington State Ferries. Blog & Stories. Find Our Tour Office ...

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    To help you out, here are 9 of the most iconic backpacking routes in Washington, complete with everything you need to know to hit the trail. 1. The Wonderland Trail. Distance: 93 miles (150km) Elevation Gain: 23,000 feet (7,010m) Number of Nights: 14. Difficulty: Strenuous. Hiking Season: Summer, early Fall. Dogs: No.

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    Ross Lake Traverse in the North Cascades. Location: Washington Hiking Tours. Area: North Cascades Guided Hikes. Trip type: Guided Backpacking Trip. Difficulty: Highlights: Stunning Views of Ross Lake, Rejuvenating Mountain Solitude, Breathtaking Waterfalls …. 5 Days. from $2035.

  13. Early Season Backpacking Washington (A 2024 Guide)

    In the early camping season - April and May - it's one of the greatest introductory backpacking excursions in Washington state. Note that the lakes are not suitable for filtering water, so bring extra clean water to last the duration of your stay. Read: 12 Best Washington Spring Hikes To Try Out In 2024. 3.

  14. 15 Best Beginner Backpacking Trails in Washington

    Since the trail is nice and shady, this makes an excellent spot to camp in the summer. Trail description: Washington Trails / Alltrails. Distance: 3.6-8 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 500 feet. Best season: April to November. Parking Pass needed: Northwest Forest Pass or the America the Beautiful.

  15. Weekend Backpacking Trips

    Mileage: 16.4 miles, one-way (2-4 days) Elevation Gain: 3000 feet. A hiker travels through a section of old burn. Photo by trip reporter mikemahanay. This section of the Pacific Crest Trail has a reputation for not being very scenic because it's flat and clear-cut, but that is simply not the case.

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    Wildland Trekking offers this Point of Arches trip as a guided backpacking adventure package with expert guides, gear, meals, transportation — all included! Hike Point of Arches with a Guide. 5. Ancient Lakes, Eastern Washington. Mileage: 4 miles out-and-back | Length: 2 days | Elevation Gain/Loss: minimal.

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