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.
Skills refresh: 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.
Cathedral Pass Loop
Location: Okanogan National Forest
Length: 44.7 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4000 feet
Cathedral Pass offers some of the best scenery that the Pasayten’s breathtaking Boundary Trail (a priority area in WTA's Lost Trails Found campaign) has to offer. Climb the local peaks, check out the Canadian border monuments, or kick back and watch the marmots. At night, listen for the coyotes and count stars.
Location: North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20
Length: 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.
Location: North Coast
Length: 13 mile loop, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3200 feet
Once you climb up to the ridge, you can go for miles taking in the sweeping views. From Mount Baker to Lake Crescent, from the sea to the Sol Duc Valley, you’ll have no shortage of vistas (provided the weather cooperates). It’s a pretty dry route, so plan to haul along almost all of your water if you do this as an overnight loop in Olympic National Forest.
North Fork Skokomish River
Location: Hood Canal
Length: 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: Near Lake Wenatchee
Length: 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
Length: 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: Mount St. Helens Area
Length: 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: Colville National Forest
Length: 19 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3400 feet
Hidden away in the corner of Washington between Idaho and Canada, Salmo-Priest is as remote as it gets. Here you'll find old growth and wildflowers and views from Shedroof Divide out over the Selkirk Mountains. WTA crews have put a lot of work into keeping this trail logged out and hikeable over the years, and this summer we'll return with a Back Country Response Team to make sure that stock can access this trail.