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Weekend Backpacking Trips

Immerse yourself in the backcountry with some longer hikes. The backpack trips described here are all between 10 and 25 miles — some 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. Over multiple days in the backcountry you can really cover some ground and experience solitude — and some fantastic destinations.

The backpack trips described here are all between 10 and 45 miles — some 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

JAckita Ridge

Location: North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Mileage: 15.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3000 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 visit to Jackita Ridge using WTA's Hiking Guide

Williams Creek

Location: Methow/Sawtooth
Mileage: 14.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3200 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 visit to Williams Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide

Big Beaver Trail

Location: North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Mileage: 24.6 miles, one-way
Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Big Beaver Trail. Photo by wet boots, dry hops.jpeg
A view of the lake with low water levels during an early season visit. Photo by trip reporter wet boots, dry hops.

Visit one of the best old-growth hikes in the North Cascades, with views of a vivid blue lake and jagged, snowy peaks thrown in for good measure. It's an easy, early season backpack or a fun day hike. The trail is aptly named, since the valley it traverses is beaver habitat. But the still waters that beavers love also means bugs. Come prepared to ward of mosquitos in summertime.

> Plan your hike on the Big Beaver Trail using WTA's Hiking Guide

Central Cascades

lake janus and grizzly creek

Location: Stevens Pass - East
Mileage: 16.6 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Gain: 2525 feet

Lake Janus and Grizzly Peak. Photo by cristina.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter cristina.

A stroll north on the Pacific Crest Trail to tranquil Lake Janus and neighboring Grizzly Peak offers panoramas of the Central Cascades’ finest peaks and undulating meadows blanketed with wildflowers as far as the eye can see. Traveled by sauntering day hikers, first-time backpackers and dedicated thru-hikers bound for Canada, this well-maintained trail has a little something for everyone.

> Plan your trip to Lake Janus and Grizzly Creek using WTA's Hiking Guide

Glasses Lake

Location: Stevens Pass - East
Mileage: 10.0 miles (2 days)
Elevation Gain: 700 feet

A bright blue lake is framed by green, teed covered hills in the background which are dotted with snow patched.
The inviting waters of Glasses Lake. Photo by trip reporter jbk51691.

This is a beautiful small lake tucked immediately under Grizzly Peak and the Pacific Crest Trail. Where Heather Lake is often shared with a number of hiking and camping groups, you are pretty much assured to have lunch by yourself at Glasses. Only about a dozen trip reports have been filed, which is a good predictor of solitude.

> Plan your visit to Glasses Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide

Tacoma Pass to Government Meadows

Location: Snoqualmie Pass - East
Mileage: 16.4 miles, one-way (2-4 days)
Elevation Gain: 3000 feet

A hiker travels through an old burn zone. Colorful underbrush and stands of dead trees surround them.
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. The PCT through the Central Cascades offers stunning views, especially of Mount Rainier. The once-clear-cut forests are growing back into lovely regrowth groves. The meadows at Government Meadow feature wildflowers in the spring. The only downside is that there is little water in this stretch of trail, so be sure to come prepared with plenty of water.

> Plan your hike to Tacoma Pass using WTA's Hiking Guide

North Fork Entiat River

Location: Stevens Pass - East
Mileage: 26.0 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Gain: 4000 feet

A view from high up on a peak, overlooking the surrounding rocky peaks and river valleys of the Entiat.
If you opt to venture up one of the surrounding peaks, you can get incredible views of the Entiat valleys. Photo by trip reporter lucasboyd. 

A scenic drive up the Entiat River takes you to the dusty trailhead of this backpacking loop in the rugged beauty of the Entiat mountains. Campgrounds along the way are roomy and beautiful with good water sources and there are plenty of side trips and peaks to explore along your journey. If you have the time, tack on a few extra days to truly soak up everything this backcountry location has to offer.

> Plan your visit to the North Fork Entiat River using WTA's Hiking Guide

Olympic Peninsula

Silver Lake

Location: Hood Canal
Mileage: 11 miles (2 days)
Elevation Gain: 3400 feet

Silver Lakes. Photo by vikr.jpeg
An early season trip to Silver Lakes. Photo by trip reporter vikr.

These quiet little lakes tucked on the south side of Mount Townsend make a delightful alternate to the popular Townsend trek. And, like Townsend, there are several ways to access them, so hikers can spread out across the routes.

> Plan your hike to Silver Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide

Mink Lake to Little Divide

Location: Hood Canal
Mileage: 11 miles (2 days)
Elevation Gain: 3400 feet

Mink Lake. Photo by Mosquito Food.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter Mosquito Food.

Meadows abound with wildflowers. The lake is popular with families on day hikes and campers on their way to Seven Lakes Basin. For a shortened return trip with fresh scenery follow the trail down from Deer Lake to Lovers Lane (don't miss Sol Duc Falls) which terminates at the resort and Mink lake trailhead (approximately 6 miles from Deer Lake). You'll need a permit to overnight - don't forget to reserve one.

> Plan your visit to Mink Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide

North Fork Quinault River and Halfway House

Location: Hood Canal
Mileage: 11 miles (2 days)
Elevation Gain: 3400 feet

A wide river runs through a rocky bed, with evergreen forest on either side.
A bend in the river. Photo by AlpsDayTripper.

The hike to Halfway House follows the first five miles of the North Fork Quinault River along the same route taken by the Press Expedition of 1890. The trail passes through superb lowland rainforest before entering the canyon of the Quinault. Halfway House makes a good picnic spot for day hikers and is also a great campsite for backpackers on a longer journey.

> Plan your hike on the North Fork Quinault River using WTA's Hiking Guide

South coast Wilderness Trail

Location: Olympic Coast
Mileage: 17 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Gain: 3000 feet

A sun sets beyond a sandy beach, casting warm colors into the sky.
A serene sunset at Toleak Point. Photo by Times New Marlon.

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.

> Plan your trek on the South Coast Wilderness Trail using WTA's Hiking Guide

South Cascades

American Lake

Location: Chinook Pass
Mileage: 15.5 miles (2 days)
Elevation Gain: 2759 feet

A sunny day at the small American Lake.
A beautiful sunny day at American Lake. Photo by trip reporter Marley.

Hike a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail through meadows of wildflowers and past sparkling lakes with views of Nelson Ridge, Mount Aix and Mount Rainier. From Chinook Pass, head south on the Pacific Crest Trail, crossing the highway on the wooden overpass, then traversing the east slopes of Naches Peak, first in forest, then in glorious flower fields. In early August the wildflower fields are some of the best around, and the fall color is spectacular in late September and October.

> Plan your hike at American Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide

Riley Camp

Location: Mount Adams Area
Mileage: 10.0 miles (2 days)
Elevation Gain: 2280 feet

A view of Mount Adams looping over the open meadows of Riley Camp.
Photo by trip reporter Brian_Whitman.

This route is the perfect gateway to Mount Adams spectacular high country on its less-visited western side. It climbs through dense forests, past a small lake, then across Riley Meadows, which features great campsites, before joining the Pacific Crest Trail. From there you can continue on to Sheep Lake or head off-trail to check out Crystal Lake at the edge of the tree line. WTA volunteers also worked to restore a section of this trail heading across Riley Meadows!

> Plan your trip to Riley Camp using WTA's Hiking Guide

Goat Creek Loop

Location: Mount St. Helens
Mileage: 20.2 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Gain: 3200 feet

A view of Rainier through the trees.
A view of the mountain through the trees on Goat Creek Loop. Photo by trip reporter NOWISM.

Escape the crowds on this two- to three-day backpacking adventure into the less-traveled areas on the north side of Mount St. Helens. Enjoy a mix of classic PNW forests and views of iconic mountains during your trek.

> Plan your hike on the Goat Creek Loop using WTA's Hiking Guide

Eastern Washington

Packers Trail - Mount Misery Loop

Location: Palouse and Blue Mountains
Mileage: 45 miles (3-4 days)
Elevation Gain: 9234 feet

A backpacker walks away along a trail, surrounded by flower-filled meadows and big open skies.
Time your visit right and you'll be rewarded with fields of wildflowers. Photo by trip reporter BYOC.

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.

> Plan your trek on the Packer's Trail using WTA's Hiking Guide

North Fork Walla Walla River

Location: Palouse and Blue Mountains
Mileage: 20.2 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Gain: 1540 feet

North Fork Walla Walla. Photo by BYOC.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter BYOC.

This well-maintained follows along the North Fork Walla Walla River, gradually descends from the trailhead for about 7 miles. The trail offers an abundance of water as well as large trees provide shade for most of the hike, and all the flora and fauna that come with being near water.

> Plan your hike on the North Fork Walla Walla River using WTA's Hiking Guide

Bead Lake

Location: Selkirk Range
Mileage: 11.4 miles (2 days)
Elevation Gain: 400 feet

Fall colors surround the Bead Lake trail, the lake itself in the distance.
Fall colors popping up along the trail. Photo by hikingwithlittledogs.

Summer and winter visitors alike will love this shady hike along the lakeshore trail. Gentle grades take hikers above the lake and through cedar groves, but also drop close to shoreline to provide opportunities for a summer dip. Campsites along the way invite visitors to spend the night, but this hike also makes a fantastic day trip or trail run.

> Plan your visit to Bead Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide

White Mountain Via Kettle Crest Trail South

Location: Kettle River Range
Mileage: 28.0 miles (2-3 days)
Elevation Gain: 1500 feet

White Mountain. Photo by Karen Daubert.jpeg
Photo by trip reporter Karen Daubert.

This 28-mile round trip offers the best of the Columbia Highlands as it passes through old-growth ponderosa pine stands, skirts five significant peaks in the Kettle Range, and showcases the effects of the White Mountain Fire of 1988. The Kettle Crest Trail passes just beneath the summits of Sherman and Snow Peaks, Bald Mountain, Barnaby Buttes and White Mountain. 360-degree views include Lake Roosevelt and the Selkirks to the east, Canada to the north and the Cascades to the west.

> Plan your hike to White Mountain using WTA's Hiking Guide