Guidebook

The 5 Best Backpacking Excursions in Washington

Explore the rugged mountains and deep forests of Washington on these 5 epic backpacking trips.

Description

Washington State's landscape is vast and varied. While it is home to a major population hub in the Seattle Metro Area, even just a few minutes outside of Seattle, the forests are deep, and the mountains soar into the sky. Since the population is so concentrated in essentially one major metropolitan area, much of the rest of the state is covered in vast, untrammeled wilderness.

When most people think of Washington, they envision the dark, wet rainforests found along the coast. And while this is one key part of Washington's landscape and a part featured heavily in this guidebook, the state is also home to towering mountains and high alpine regions, including massive volcanoes. Mount Rainier, in particular, is not only the most glaciated peak in the Lower 48, but it's the most prominent mountain in the continental United States, towering 13,210 feet over the surrounding landscape and rising to a max height of 14,411 feet above sea level.

From coast to forest to glacier-covered mountains, Washington is home to many lifetimes' worth of adventure. It's impossible to narrow the thousands of miles of trails down to a mere Top 5 list, yet all five of these backpacking routes easily demand a spot on your bucket list.

To enjoy endless views of the massive Mount Rainier, try circumnavigating the mountain on the 85-mile Wonderland Trail.

For a short backpacking route through jagged mountains, put the Enchantments Traverse on your list. This may be one of the best bang-for-your-buck backpacking trips in the world.

If you want a taste of a classic Washington rainforest, and especially want to see the rainforest transition to the alpine, backpack the entirety of the renowned Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park.

Also found in Olympic National Park, the North Coast Route traverses "some of the most remote shoreline in the Lower 48," according to Jesse Weber.

Finally, don't forget about the king of them all: the Pacific Crest Trail. While of course you can hike the entire trail, you could also just try tackling the section of the PCT in Washington. Still, at 487 miles long, even the Washington section isn't a walk in the park!

Do these backpacking trips sound like a little too much adventure? Then check out our list of the top five day hikes in Washington instead!

Wonderland Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Wonderland Trail

Mount Rainier National Park
1 day +
136.7 km
7,179 m
7,179 m
A 93 mile (150 kilometer) hiking trail that circumnavigates Mount Rainier, one of North America's most iconic peaks.
Difficult
Private
Hoh River Trail: Full Trail Out-and-Back
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Hoh River Trail: Full Trail Out-and-Back

Olympic National Park
1 day +
54.2 km
1,737 m
1,737 m
The iconic Washington rainforest hike in its full glory!
Difficult
Private
The Enchantments Traverse
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Enchantments Traverse

1 day +
28.7 km
1,552 m
2,187 m
A stunning hike through the Enchantments outside of Leavenworth.
Severe
Private
North Coast Route
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

North Coast Route

1 day +
49.5 km
537 m
533 m
Beach and headland navigation along Washington's rugged and remote northern coastline in Olympic National Park.
Severe
Private
Pacific Crest Trail: Washington
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Pacific Crest Trail: Washington

1 day +
783.3 km
21,103 m
19,861 m
The entire Washington segment of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Difficult
Private