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Weekend Backpacking Trips

Immerse yourself in the backcountry with some longer hikes. The backpack trips described here are all between 15 and 23 miles - they generally can be hiked in two days (one night), but several would be much more enjoyable if you take three days.

After catching the backpacking bug with some overnight trips, you may be eager to immerse yourself in the backcountry with some longer hikes. This gives you the opportunity to push beyond what day hikers can get to and really experience some solitude - and some fantastic destinations!

The backpack trips described here are all between 15 and 23 miles - they generally can be hiked in two days (one night), but several would be much more enjoyable if you take three days. Most have side trips you won't want to skip, and all have fabulous views to absorb. Better yet, three of the featured trips are loops and one is a traverse. The scenery surely won't get old!

Before you go, take the time to review some of our great backpacking information here. Now on to the hikes!


North Cascades

Williams Creek

Location: Methow/Sawtooth
Length: 14.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3200 feet
Highest Point: 6500 feet

Williams Creek. Photo by Rolan.jpeg
Looking back down into the Williams Creek drainage. Photo by trip reporter Rolan.

Williams Lake is set in a beautiful meadow basin with pockets of golden larches (if you time your visit right). The shallow gradient trail takes 7 miles to gain 3600 feet and is mostly on a fire-scorched, sun-baked south facing slope where the sparse shade offers a welcome respite from the heat.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


JAckita Ridge

Location: North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Length: 15.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3000 feet
Highest Point: 6800 feet

Jackita Ridge. Photo by dca2dc.png
Wildflowers along Jackita Ridge. Photo by trip reporter dca2dc.

This stunning trail reaches high into the western reaches of the Pasayten Wilderness. With views of Crater Mountain and Jack Mountain, the ridge reaches at or above the timberline, giving hikers spectacular views all around. This trail is often used as part of the Devil's Dome loop or to reach Crater Mountain -- but can also be done as an out-and-back.

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Big Beaver Trail

Location: North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Length: 24.6 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Highest Point: 1980 feet

> Plan your trip using WTA's Hiking Guide


Central Cascades

Meander Meadow - Dishpan Gap - Cady Ridge Loop

Location: Near Lake Wenatchee
Round Trip: 16 miles (2-3 days)
Season: Late July - September


Approaching Kodak Peak. Photo by mbravenboer.

This is a fabulous loop trip - a bit out of reach of day hikers - but 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. Like wildflowers? Huge meadows of color are a feast for the eyes and nose. How about ridge walks? Enjoy 360 views as you cruise along Cady Ridge. How about mountains? Nothing like close ups with massive, snowy Glacier Peak. Get out a calendar and a map today to start planning!

>> Read more in WTA's online Hiking Guide

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Olympic Peninsula

Upper Lena Lake

Location: Olympics - East side
Round Trip: 14 miles (2 days)
Elevation Change: 3900'
Season: July - October


Photo by montynet.

The trail to Lower Lena Lake is one of the most popular in the Olympics - it's a bit overrun on weekends and can be disappointing for solitude-seekers. But for those willing to work hard - up a steep trail another 4.5 miles and 2600 feet in elevation - the rewards are yours for the taking. Broad heather meadows, front-row views of The Brothers, and a picturesque alpine lake make this a classic backpacking trip. You'll soon see why this was one of the venerable guidebook author and photographer Ira Spring's favorite hikes.

>> Read more in WTA's online Hiking Guide

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Toleak Point - Third Beach to Oil City Traverse

Location: Olympic Coast
Round Trip: 17 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Change: 3000'
Season: All year


Photo by jdk610.

Experience one of the wildest - and most beautiful - stretches of coastline in the contiguous United States on this 17 mile traverse. But beware: this isn't just any leisurely beach walk. The going is tough. You'll be climbing ladders with your backpack on, scrambling along muddy headland trails, waiting out high tides and fording creeks. Up and down you'll go on this demanding trail. But it is entirely worth it for the ocean sunsets, the unexpected encounters with wildlife, the incredible sea stacks and the constantly crashing surf.

>> Read more in WTA's online Hiking Guide

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South Cascades

Indian Bar - Cowlitz Divide (Wonderland Trail)

Location: Mount Rainier National Park
Round Trip: 15 miles (2 days)
Elevation Change: 2900'
Season: Late June - October

Indian Bar. Photo by Niko Niko.
Views of Rainier from the Wonderland Trail. Photo by Niko Niko.
Many of us wish we had the time (or the stamina!) to backpack the entire Wonderland Trail. If you can't get the circuit of Mount Rainier on your calendar, how about backpacking some of the very best segments of it. Indian Bar fits that bill - ridge walks through forests and meadows, the cascading headwaters of the Ohanapecosh River, glorious and plentiful wildflowers, and of course, the looming massiveness of Mount Rainier itself. By all accounts, the hike is tough. But the experience is worth the effort.

>> Read more in WTA's online Hiking Guide

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Snowgrass Flat - Cispus Basin - Nannie Ridge Loop

Location: Goat Rocks Wilderness
Round Trip: 19.6 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Change: 3000'
Season: August - September

Snowgrass Flats. Photo by melissapnwa.
Headed down the PCT from Snowgrass Flat. Photo by melissapnwa.

The Goat Rocks Wilderness is the best! You start your hike high and stay high, walking along the edges of steep granite mountains above the green carpet forest of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. From the Pacific Crest Trail above Snowgrass Flat, you'll be able to see Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams and even Mount Hood on a clear day. This is a great backpacking trip - done as out and backs to Snowgrass Flat or Nannie Ridge, or as a loop trip with Cispus Basin, a wildflower heaven all to yourself. Get out a map and discover the possibilities!

>> Read more in WTA's online Hiking Guide

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Eastern Washington

Salmo-Priest Loop

Location: NE corner of Washington
Round Trip: 19 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Change: 3400'
Season: July - Mid-October

Salmo Priest Loop. Photo by Erynn Allen.
View from the lookout. Photo by Erynn Allen.

Have you ever been to the very northeast tip of Washington? Not many people have, and that is too bad. Or good, if you're looking for a great hike with very few people. The Salmo-Priest Loop takes you into the heart of wilderness so remote that even grizzly bears have been spotted here. You'll spend part of your hike in Idaho, and can even take a side trip to the Canadian border. Along the way, enjoy the forested river valleys, mountain passes and long ridge walk. We highlight recommend taking an extra day to scramble up nearby peaks and hike to the Little Snowy Top Lookout. FYI - This trail is getting lots of WTA love from week-long trail crews!

>> Read more in WTA's online Hiking Guide