How to Plan a Backpacking Trip in Washington

How to Plan a Backpacking Trip in Washington


Backpacking in Gifford Pinchot Countrywide Forest. Photograph by Nolan Calisch.

Backpacking is a exclusive brand of camping. This just isn’t parking a car or truck and pulling out a cooler—backpacking means carrying every thing you could will need and hitting the trail, ending up miles absent from paved streets and flush toilets and even other people today. It indicates a night time between Washington alpine lakes and previous-growth forest, midnight sights of the Milky Way and coffee with the wildflowers. And the very best part: It’s feasible for everybody. 

Decide on the period

Think it or not, we backpack yr-round in the Northwest. Whilst summertime is the undisputed peak season for strapping on a Wild-sized pack, hardy adventurers courageous the spring rains and camp amongst the autumn colours. Snow camping, with its stunning evenings and cozy down levels, turns wintertime into its individual special time. (Check out out our information on how to appreciate it.)

When picking a backpacking trip window, contemplate the weather conditions. Pacific Northwest evenings are cold, and it will get chillier the higher the elevation (specially into mountains). Keep track of temperatures at the Countrywide Weather Provider web page and test snow amounts on SNOTEL. An additional excellent way to gauge recent problems: Check vacation reviews for each vacation spot at Washington Trails Association.

Any time of calendar year, don’t forget that a significant journey doesn’t have to necessarily mean massive mileage. With more gear in the pack, even quick hikes can come to feel like a training. Our Look for and Rescue community is potent (even for animals!), but the very best trips really don’t need contacting them in.


Claim the campsite

Motor vehicle tenting isn’t the only form of outdoorsing that calls for a reservation. A lot of spots throughout the Northwest fall underneath a allow-use space, and some restrict the variety issued. Rule of thumb: If it’s in a countrywide park (Rainier, Olympic, or North Cascades), the backpacking excursion in all probability calls for advance reserving. The Enchantments region, a gorgeous expanse of mountain lakes close to Leavenworth, is also thoroughly managed. Reservations are arranged through

That even now leaves thousands of miles of trails and unlimited spots for unreserved, non-permitted backpacking. Often all that is essential is a parking pass at the trailhead, but there are even now procedures: Go away No Trace, a framework for enjoying the outdoor devoid of harming the organic planet, outlines how to camp on long lasting surfaces.

Obtain the equipment

And you believed normal tenting was high-priced. Specialised backpacking gear, mild and compact plenty of to be carried, can quickly run into the thousands of dollars—and some of the incredibly most effective outside machines is built right here in Seattle by businesses like Therm-a-Rest and Feathered Close friends. To commence, concentration on the basic principles: tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad, backpack, and stove.

But there are a lot of roadways to obtaining backpacking stuff devoid of spending comprehensive selling price (or even searching the sale racks at our preferred outdoor stores). Rent from a quantity of local outlets and companies as a reward, beginners can try out items out in the field just before purchasing for themselves.

Backpackers can make do with substitutions and workarounds for practically each and every piece of gear—except food storage. Some nationwide parks require specialised bear canisters (which they rent, as do nearby stores) to hold animals from accessing vital rations test with rangers or national park sites for extra. Right food stuff storage is vital in all backcountry campsites, while bears aren’t the only kinds who can destroy a trip—the mice, foxes, and raccoons can be equally damaging.

Find the close friends and supply some techniques

As we lined in our very first-timer tenting guide, there are several strategies to uncover outside associates all-around Seattle—and some will even go backpacking with you. Even much better, learners of backpacking classes at the Mountaineers or guided enterprise Kaf Adventures emerge with the means to system visits them selves Cascade Mountain Adventures holds backpacking intensives for girls (like snow camping expeditions).


Prepare the pastimes

Just obtaining and placing up a backpacking internet site is a whole lot of work—don’t get worried much too considerably about receiving bored. But it also will not damage to throw in a deck of playing cards or a flower identification application. Or rating the perfect starlight photo—Mountaineers Textbooks has a total tome devoted to capturing nighttime scenes. Oh, and don’t forget about the most significant backpacking activity of them all, going to the bathroom REI and Go away No Trace have you coated. 


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Genie Mathena

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