If you haven’t finalized your plans for the three-day weekend yet, then WTA’s got a few destination suggestions to get out into the backcountry. Go for the day, or turn these challenging day hikes into overnights or multi-night backpacks. Be sure to check in with the local ranger station about conditions, restrictions, and the backcountry permits you’ll need to sleep under the stars.
Trail Smarts: Before you head out, refresh your backpacking and Leave No Trace basics, so you know where to pitch your tent.
- Don’t find the trail you’re looking for below? Browse recent Trip Reports from other backpackers for ideas.
- Hiking with kids? Check out recent Trip Reports from other backpackers with kids in tow.
Pierce Mountain Trail
Location: Ross Lake Area
Mileage: 9.9 miles, one way
Elevation Gain: 4500 feet
The Pierce Mountain Trail is an alternative approach to Sourdough Mountain. Head up from the shores of Ross Lake to this historic lookout and enjoy panoramic views of the North Cascades. A small camp just before the lookout is a great perch to spend the night and the ridge offers plenty of strolling potential.
Location: North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Mileage: 31.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 6650 feet
This trek samples some of the best views the North Cascades has to offer — subalpine lakes, forested valleys and rugged mountain passes—on this multi-day trek. By connecting a series of trails, the Rainbow–McAlester Pass Loop lets you experience the natural splendor found in the heart of the North Cascades National Park Complex. With numerous campsites along the way, you can plan an itinerary to suit your own hiking preferences for speed, difficulty, and views.
South Coast Wilderness Trail-Toleak Point
Location: Pacific Coast
Mileage: 17.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2400 feet
The Olympic Coast is full of marine marvels and miles of enchanting coast line. This trail will immerse hikers in a salty, sandy wonderland over 3 or 4 days. Long stretches of sparsely visited beach and the challenge of timing the tides to get over headlands make for a memorable adventure.
North Fork Skokomish River
Location: Hood Canal
Mileage: 15.2 mile loop, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3568 feet
The North Fork Skokomish Trail leads through the thick Olympic forest to subalpine meadows with unbelievable views into the heart of the craggy, snow-capped Olympic Range. The most scenic section of this trail is the route to First Divide, where you find the gorgeous mountain views in a small pass, 4688 feet high.
Meander Meadow - Dishpan Gap - Cady Ridge Loop
Location: Stevens Pass - East
Mileage: 16 miles, roundtrip
You may find a few lingering patches of snow, but this fabulous loop trip—a bit out of reach of day hikers—is wonderfully attainable for backpackers. Because the hike in and the hike out are both five-star hikes in and of themselves, this loop will keep your senses keen throughout. Huge meadows of color are a feast for the eyes and nose. Enjoy 360 views as you cruise along Cady Ridge.
Location: Blewett Pass
Mileage: 14.4 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain: 1450 feet
The Ingalls Creek Trail features a variety of scenery that includes big pines, boulder fields, granite cliffs, old-growth and occasional views of the mighty Stuart Range. The primary attraction in late spring is the proliferation of wildflowers, some of which are uncommon. Be prepared for the cool breezes that flow down the valley, and carry an extra layer. The trail is both an excellent day hike and a good place to spend the night, especially if you plan to hike the entire trail, which leads to Stuart Pass (16 miles one way) and beyond.
Location: Stevens Pass - West
Mileage: 10.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1580 feet
This is a large lake hidden just south of Tonga Ridge in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Reached by a brushy, boot-beaten fisherman's path, it is less visited than many lakes in the area, but the route is marked on the map, and if you are willing to put up with a bit of inconvenience, it makes a great overnight.
Location: Mount St. Helens
Mileage: 12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2000 feet
Survey Mount St.Helens’ recovering Blast Zone and get 360-degree, four-peak views from this high perch along the Boundary Trail. Allow plenty of time, carry an ample supply of water (except for occasional snowmelt, it’s a dry trail), and expect to return with a dusty coating of ash on your clothing and gear. Goofy sun hats and umbrellas are encouraged to ward off the sun
Location: Goat Rocks
Mileage: 16.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2400 feet
As the name suggests, this humble lake in the Goat Rocks is not as well-known as other Cascade lakes but makes for a great overnight stay. With 2 approaches of varying difficulty, hikers can pick their speed and hit the trail.
Wildfire update 2021: This trail is near the Schneider Springs Fire. The air quality may be unhealthy. Check the latest fire and smoke conditions before planning your trip.
Location: White Pass/Cowlitz River Valley
Mileage: 13.5 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2070 feet
Easy trails and abundant scenic camps make wandering the wilds of the William O. Douglas an experience that backpackers old and new can enjoy at a relaxing pace without the knee-wrecking elevation that reaching many of the alpine lakes elsewhere in the state requires. The 14-mile lollipop loop to Dumbbell Lake will take you past seven lakes large enough to have been named along with many smaller ponds and marshes that provide some of the finest elk, trout, and mosquito habitat in the Cascades.
PACKERS TRAIL - MOUNT MISERY LOOP
Wildfire update: This trail is closed during the summer of 2021 due to the Green Ridge Fire.
Location: Palouse and Blue Mountains
Mileage: 45 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 9234 feet
The Blue Mountains lure hikers in with their open vistas along the high ridges, intense colors at sunrise and sunset, prolific wildflowers, wildlife sightings, and some of the largest old-growth trees in Eastern Washington. The Mount Misery trail is a tough one (beginning with a rough ride up the forest road), but it almost guaranteed for solitude.
South Fork Silver Creek to Gunsight Pass
Location: Selkirk Range
Mileage: 14.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2370 feet
The aspen groves and golden larch are a sight to behold on this remote hike through a seldom-seen corner of the Colville National Forest. Pro tip: Take advantage of the great trail head campground at road’s end and hike the North Fork Silver Creek Trail the next day.
Jungle Hill Loop
Location: Okanogan Highlands/Kettle River Range
Mileage: 15.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3348 feet
This is the perfect short backpack or long day hike! From the Jungle Hill campground, the trail drops approximately 0.25 mile to Sherman Creek. Note the return trail on the left, then cross Sherman Creek to the Jungle Hill Trail and begin the approximately four-mile climb to the meadows near Jungle Hill.