Get Ready to Backpack - Plan your Destination!
Finding your Backpacking Trail
Your adventure begins by selecting your backpacking destination! Deciding on a destination is an exciting and in depth part of adventure planning and requires through research. These resources can help you answer all your questions before finalizing you backpacking destination!
Start researching backpacking trails in Washington using the Hike Finder Map by WTA. Search trails by location, milage, elevation, trail features, such as established campsites, and ratings. https://www.wta.org/go-outside/map
Find the details of your selected trail using the WTA Hiking Guide, which includes name, area, location, length, elevation, parking pass/entry fee and the essential Trip Reports. https://www.wta.org/go-outside/hikes
Use a free online program such as Caltopo to examine the details of your trail, determine the distances between your anticipated campsites, confirm water sources and print out scalable topographic maps. www.caltopo.com
Use WTA Trip Reports to learn more about the trail and determine if the trailhead is accessible as well as current conditions on the trail. Scroll through older reports to find the best month to explore this trail (ex. when the snow melts out; peak wildflower season). https://www.wta.org/go-outside/trip-reports
Determine the expected weather for the month you plan to visit your destination by searching Google for annual weather for your recreational area, such as “annual weather Goat Rock Wilderness”. This will bring up weather averages from NOAA for your destination.
Learn more about the backpacking permits you will need and when to apply: https://www.wta.org/go-outside/passes/backcountry-wilderness-permit-info
National Parks are a great place to backpack as the trails are well marked and maintained and the backcountry camps have a pit toilet and bear poles. A permit is required for backcountry camping. https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm
Mount Rainier - Try Spray Park Loop - 16 mi, 5,100 ft gain
North Cascades - Try Cascade Pass to Sahale Arm - 12 mi, 4,000 ft gain
For a more off-the-grid experience, try a national forests. Trails are often unmarked and may be unmaintained. Campsites often do not have any facilities so be prepared to Leave No Trace and to hang your own bear bag. Backcountry permits are required. https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/destinations
Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Goat Rocks Wilderness - Try Snowgrass - Cispus Basin - Nannie Ridge Loop - 20 mi, 3,000 ft gain
Umatilla National Forest - Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness - Try Panjab Loop - 12 mi, 2,500 ft gain
New to Backpacking?
Try these early-season, one-night backpacking destinations within 3 hours drive of Tricities.
Ancient Lakes, Quincy, WA
4-8 miles, 600 ft gain
Packwood Lake, Packwood, WA
10 miles, 600 ft gain