The Best Backpacking In Washington

Whether you're looking for a spot to go camping overnight or a destination for a multi-day hike - this blog post will give you a detailed list of the best backpacking in Washington, including trails in Mount Rainier National Park and
Best Backpacking in Washington
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Best Backpacking in Washington

With miles of bush-covered trails, alpine hiking routes, and picturesque coastal wilderness, Washington is a backpacking paradise for people that love the outdoors.

Mount Rainier National Park alone has over 230 miles of established trails! In this blog post we will explore some of the best backpacking in Washington state, highlighting the scenic views and unique attractions along each route.

So get ready for an unforgettable journey as we take you off the beaten path in search of adventure and exploration. Whether you’re looking for a spot to go camping or an iconic multi-day hike – this blog post will give you some amazing places to explore while backpacking in Washington.

Key Takeaways

  • Washington offers a vast range of stunning backpacking spots with different landscapes and activities available.
  • The Hidden Lake Lookout trail is one of the most iconic hikes in the state, challenging hikers with an elevation gain of 2,600 feet while offering breathtaking views from 6,850 feet above sea level.
  • Park Butte is an accessible hike for all levels with sweeping vistas over Mt Baker’s glistening landscape and camping opportunities at Park Butte Lookout.
  • Gem Lake near Wright Mountain offers emerald oasis surrounded by lush valleys and picturesque mountain peaks, which can be explored along a multi-day hike.
  • All of the backpacking trips in our list require a Northwest Forest Pass or National Park Pass.

The Best Backpacking In Washington

Hidden Lake Lookout

👉 The Hidden Lake Lookout trail is a challenging route up a steep elevation gain that leads into diverse landscapes of lush, temperate forests, open meadows full of lupines and hellebores wildflowers, and  panoramic views thousands of feet above sea level.

  • Level: Moderate to Advanced
  • Length: 8 miles round trip
  • Duration: 3 – 5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
  • Landmarks: Surrounding mountains and Hidden Lake

As well as providing amazing scenery along the way – from thickets of cedar trees to alpine lakes – this journey also provides breathtaking views of mountains like Glacier Peak and Mount Baker, which dominate the horizon.

For those wishing to extend their stay overnight, there are campsites available, or if you’re feeling adventurous why not climb up for even better lookout points? Hidden Lake Lookout provides a unique opportunity for nature lovers who seek out trails that push boundaries.

Hoh River Trail

👉 The Hoh River Trail follows the Taft Creek and the Hoh River through a preserved rainforest, filled with vast old-growth trees and moss.

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 17.3 miles round trip
  • Duration: 1- 2 days
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
  • Landmarks: Hoh Rain Forest, Blue Glacier, and Mount Olympus

The Glacier Meadows found along this trail offer views of Mt Olympus and its surrounding peaks from meadows filled with wildflowers in summertime. Additionally, visitors can experience the Blue Glacier located near White Pass at over 6,000 ft elevation!

Hidden Lake Lookout

Upper Lena Lake

👉 The Upper Lena Lake is a challenging backpacking trail that rewards hikers with stunning views from atop Mount Lena or Bretherton.

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 7 miles
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
  • Landmarks: Upper Lena Lake and views of the surrounding mountains

The Lena Lake Trailhead to reach Upper Lena Lake is about 6.5 miles from the Hamma Hamma, between which there are long switchbacks and moderate grades.

Shi Shi Beach and Point of Arches

👉 Shi Shi Beach and Point of Arches leads outdoor lovers on an unforgettable journey along the wild and rugged Washington State coastline.

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 8 miles round trip
  • Duration: 3 – 5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Landmarks: Shi Shi Beach, Point of Arches, and sea stacks

Hikers set out from what is considered the most difficult part of the hike – climbing for 3 miles up a gravel road. But once there, visitors can marvel at stunning coastal scenery with tide poolssea stack points jutting out into the surf below and crashing waves under cloudy skies.

The 8-mile roundtrip to Point of Arches takes between 7-9 hours roundtrip depending on how long one might want to linger among its beautiful beaches or explore hidden crevices dripping with salty brine from Pacific storms that have cut through rock walls over millions of years!

Winchester Mountain Fire Lookout

👉 Situated in the beautiful North Cascades of Washington state, the Winchester Mountain Lookout path leads to a tower originally constructed by the U.S. Forest Service in 1935, where visitors get a panoramic view far and wide over the gorgeous Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 7 miles round trip
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,350 feet
  • Landmarks: Lookout Tower, mountains, valleys

Not only it is this a beautiful trek, but it also has great historical significance among locals since it was one of the last fire lookouts built north of Mount Baker. You may even run into wildlife like elk or deer as you make your way up through the old logging roads that surround Enchantment Park near Lake Ann!

Park Butte

👉 Park Butte is a popular and easily accessible hike in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, with an impressive elevation gain that provides views of surrounding mountain ranges and glaciers.

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 7.5 miles round trip
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet
  • Landmarks: Glaciers, Lookout Tower, Mount Baker

Park Butte traverses through surrounding glaciers, meadows, and an old growth forest – making it one of the best backpacking trails in all of Washington. With its wide open expanses of wildflowers, cascading waterfalls, mountain peaks poking through billowing clouds and surreal beauty throughout; Park Butte’s trail reveals some truly incredible sights within reach for hikers at all levels!

Although class 1 walk-up hikes are usually easier than most other excursions out into nature; Pack Butte offers quite the challenge even for experienced explorers looking to test their limits – making it an ideal spot for both light adventures as day trips plus overnight camping opportunities.

Gem Lake

👉 Gem Lake is nestled at the foot of Wright Mountain in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and is an inviting destination for those wishing to spend a peaceful weekend backpacking in serene wilderness.

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 7.2 miles round trip
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet
  • Landmarks: Mountains, Gem Lake

This alpine lake can be reached by hiking from Snoqualmie Pass’ Alpental Ski area, via the High Lakes Trail #1012 and Snow Lake trailhead. The route has stunning views of mountain peaks reflecting onto deep lakes and hikers will love this opportunity to enjoy both an emerald oasis surrounded by lush valleys and rugged mountains – perfect for Camping!.

Many hikers like to combine the Gem Lake trail with other nearby destinations like Upper Wildcat Lake; making it great for people who want to take on a multi-day adventure. Dogs are allowed so don’t hesitate to bring your furry companions along!

Whether you choose to camp out around the shoreline or simply soak up in its unrivaled beauty, Gem Lake stands as one of most popular backpacking trails in Washington State due its wonderful blend of nature’s wonders both above and below water level.

Tuck and Robin Lakes

👉 The Tuck and Robin Lakes trail is considered one of the most scenic trails in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This expansive hike is perfect for a multi-day backpacking trip.

  • Level: Advanced
  • Length: 14.5 miles round trip
  • Duration: 8 – 10 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 3,500 feet
  • Landmarks: Mountains, Tuck and Robin Lakes

While it can be done in one long day hike, it’s best to allow enough time to complete and take advantage of all its spectacular views.

The first four miles are relatively flat as they meander through meadows full of wildflowers before reaching a lookout point over Hidden Lake. After that comes steep climbing until finally you reach the stunning granite basin at Tuck and Robin Lakes surrounded by mountain goats grazing on their early morning meal when lucky hikers pass through this magnificence view near sunrise or sunset! Therein lies your campsite opportunities if you chose to stay overnight or just take some restful moments away from civilization.

If you explore the area, you’ll find streams fed by melting snow, in addition to neighboring lakes like Jade Lake, Gem Lake, and Spade Lake, along also known Marmot lake, which all leads into the Enchanted Valley area.

Enchanted Valley

👉 The Enchanted Valley trail earns its magical name with lush rainforests, mountains, waterfalls and glacial valleys that stretch along the Quinault River in the Olympic National Park.

  • Level: Moderate to Advanced
  • Length: 26 miles round trip
  • Duration: 1 – 2 days
  • Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
  • Landmarks: Chalet, Rainforest

The valley even houses a historic chalet that adds to its charm – perfect for overnight backpacking.  Anderson Glacier can also be seen from here, and there are also opportunities to spot wildlife such as elk or black bear. There are campsites located at different points, should you choose to make it a multi-day excursion.

Best Backpacking Trails in North Cascades National Park

Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm

👉 The Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm trail ascends a steep incline with gorgeous views of peaks, glaciers, and alpine lakes.

  • Level: Advanced
  • Length: 12 miles round trip
  • Duration: 6 – 8 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet
  • Landmarks: Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, and views of the surrounding mountains

With an estimated 10 hours 27 minutes completion time, backpackers traverse challenging terrain in this picturesque area. Alongside its stunning scenery, hikers can expect to see wildlife such as mountain goats or marmots along their journey. The trailhead can be accessed via Cascade River Road where overnight camping is also available.

Park Butte

Maple Pass Loop

👉 The Maple Pass Loop winds through mountain ridges adorned with wildflowers and waterfalls during the summer months, with lush forest, snowcapped mountains and glaciers during the winter.

  • Level: Moderate to Advanced
  • Length: 7 miles round trip
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet
  • Landmarks: Heather Pass, Maple Pass

This trail usually takes about 4 hours to complete, but the hike can be extended to nearby Ann Lake or Rainy Lake. Hikers should check weather conditions before starting this route, because the weather can get especially extreme in this area and may become impassible at times.

Thunder Creek and Fourth of July Pass

👉 Thunder Creek trail is a popular destination for backpackers because of its expansive stretch across rocky rivers and mountain peaks. The trail to Fourth Of July Pass presents a steep climb up switchbacks with breathtaking views at its summit.

  • Level: Moderate to Advanced
  • Length: 19.2 miles round trip
  • Duration: 1 – 2 days
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet
  • Landmarks: Thunder Creek, Fourth of July Pass

Along the way hikers will enjoy sights of tumbling rivers, snow-capped peaks, and sprawling glaciers that give majestic character to this landscape. There is also an option for a day hike along either one or both of these paths depending on the experience desired by each individual explorer – from short two-hour jaunt through Wonderland Park all the way up to 10.5 miles roundtrip excursion leading up to Fourth Of July Pass.

Copper Ridge Loop

👉 Copper Ridge Loop in North Cascades National Park offers stunning mountain views, secluded camping spots and access to alpine lakes and forested valleys

  • Level: Advanced
  • Length: 34.8 miles round trip
  • Duration: 2 – 3 days
  • Elevation Gain: 8,000 feet
  • Landmarks: Copper Ridge, Whatcom Pass

On Copper Ridge Loop, you can take advantage of wide variety activities: from hiking up high mountain ridges with breathtaking panoramic views to descending into remote river valleys for some serious relaxation.

The majestic natural wonders surrounding every step make this a memorable hike regardless if it’s your first or fifty-first time on this trail.

Best Backpacking Trails in Mount Rainier National Park

Wonderland Trail to Granite Creek and Mystic Lake

👉 Located within Mount Rainier National Park, the Wonderland Trail to Granite Creek and Mystic Lake offers backpackers an exhilarating experience as they make their way through lowland forests, valleys, high alpine zones and sub-alpine regions.

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 12.2 miles
  • Duration: 6 – 8 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 2,800 feet
  • Landmarks: Mountains, Granite Creek

The 4.6 mile section between Mystic Lake to Granite Creek requires hikers to deal with 1,500 feet of vertical ascent over rocky obstacles in what can be considered a challenging route for even experienced backpackers. However, the effort is worth the remarkable scenery and panoramic views overlooking valleys and glacial lakes down into the Nisqually Valley.

This route is part of a larger 93 mile circuit around Mount Rainier, which attracts the majority of campers, hikes and tourists. This means that the Wonderland Trial should be less crowded, allowing total immersion in secluded wildness.

Spray Park and Seattle Park

👉 Situated approximately 138 miles north of Portland, Spray Park and Seattle Park trails in Mount Rainier National Park is a popular day trip destination from the nearby Seattle area, allowing hikers to escape from the city into nature with ease.

  • Level: Moderate to Advanced
  • Length: 7.5 miles round trip
  • Duration: 3 – 4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
  • Landmarks: Spray Park, Seattle Park, and views of Mount Rainier

While challenging enough to remain engaging for more seasoned hikers, at 6 miles round trip it is not too daunting a task for beginners. After entering from Mowich Lake, the journey begins with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet and continues over rocky ascents until reaching the Eagle’s Roost wilderness campsite, which provides exceptional lookout points along its various stops.

Summerland and Panhandle Gap

👉 The Summerland and Panhandle Gap trail traverses through old growth forest before ascending to one of the most picturesque wildflower meadows in the park, with moderate ascent throughout its length.

  • Level: Advanced
  • Length: 9.4 miles round trip
  • Duration: 5 – 6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet
  • Landmarks: Summerland, Panhandle Gap, and views of Mount Rainier

Along the way campers will find Summerland Camp, a perfect spot for spending a night out beneath stars on their journey around Mount Rainier’s trails. As hikers approach Panhandle Gap they will transition from flowering mountain meadow terrain into rocky scree fields, making this area one of the most underrated sections along the hike with such iconic sights like Reflection Lakes at Paradise visitor center or Spray Park near Indian Bar junction.

Carbon River to Ipsut Falls

is a 3.4 mile roundtrip hike located in Mount Rainier National Park, offering hikers an opportunity to explore the lush and beautiful temperate rainforest that dominates the area. The trail inclines slightly more than the road leading from Carbon River Ranger Station to Mowich Lake, with 650 feet of elevation gain along its 10-mile length.

Along this breathtaking journey one will find several other trails and points of interest such as Green Lake Trail—a 1.8 mile path through thick forest to a mirror surface mountain lake—Ranger Falls, Chenuis Falls, and Ipsut Creek Campground at its peak location.

While it may not be as intense or long as some longer backpacking trails nearby there’s still plenty of reason for seasoned adventurers take on this rewarding challenge!

Best Backpacking Trails in Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Enchantment Lakes

👉 Located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington state, that route to Enchantment Lakes is a true hiking paradise. This stunning natural landscape is well known for its pristine lakespolished granitesoaring peaksblazing larches and mountain goats.

  • Level: Advanced
  • Length: 18.5 miles round trip
  • Duration: 10 – 12 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet
  • Landmarks: Colchuck Lake, Enchantment Lakes

The untainted beauty offered by these landscapes attracts backpackers and hikers from all over the world looking to explore this remote area. Every year many adventurers come here to be captivated by amazing views of chiseled rock peaks punctuated by turquoise alpine lakes surrounded by rushing creeks filled with larch trees during fall foliage season.

Enchantments offer one-of-a kind outdoor experience and arguably one of the best backpacking trails around; making it worthy enough for even day hike too! Satisfying both thrill seekers and nature lovers alike, permit to visit this place is required as only limited number adventurers are allowed per day that would help preserve the sanctity of each enchanting lake so that they will remain a beautiful hiking oasis for future generations to come—serving as an inevitable reminder why we should respect our planet through our actions .

Ingalls Creek

Ingalls Creek Trail is one of the most popular backpacking trails in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington State. At 15.5 miles long and with a gain of 4400 feet in elevation, this trail offers hikers rugged terrain and stunning views starting from the Teanaway Valley and passing through fields of wildflowers beneath granite buttresses the Stuart Range.

Lake Ingalls and Headlight Basin are some of its most sought after destinations by avid backpackers due to their sublime beauty amid alpine heights. The area’s lakes also provide opportunities for fishing, swimming, kayaking or just simply taking in wildlife sightings along picturesque creeks that snake around jagged mountainsides.

With several other noteworthy backpacking routes like Winter Backpack to Jade Lake, Hike to Dip Top Gap, and Backpack to Circle Lake nearby; Ingalls Creek is certainly an excellent way for adventurous types to experience Washington’s natural wonders!

Snow Lakes

Snow Lakes beauty and accessibility make it a popular spot amongst hikers looking to explore alpine terrain without having to travel far from Seattle or book reservations months in advance.

  • Level: Advanced
  • Length: 12 miles round trip
  • Duration: 6 – 8 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet
  • Landmarks: Snow Lakes and alpine meadows

This trail features crystal-clear lakes surrounded by towering peaks that offer spectacular views when taken as an overnight backpacking adventure, but can also satisfy shorter outings with day trips just over 9km round trip.

As part of this stunning experience, visitors will pass through Enchantment Lakes along their way – enjoying beautiful lush forests and riverside meadows on the way up before reaching the enchanting Emerald Lake at it the trail peak.

Rachel Lake

Rachel Lake is a popular destination because of the adventurous waypoints along the journey, including Rampart Lakes, Lila Lakes, and Alta Peak.

  • Level: Moderate
  • Length: 8 miles round trip
  • Duration: 5 – 6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet
  • Landmarks: Rachel Lake, Rampart Ridge

Essential Gear for Backpacking in Washington State

includes the necessary clothing and layers, backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad as well as all of the 10 essentials for a successful trip.

Clothing and layers

When backpacking in Washington State, the right clothing and layering system can make or break any excursion. Weather conditions vary from cold mountain evenings to hot summer days and it is important to pack accordingly.

Layering is key; lightweight synthetic materials are often best as they wick away sweat efficiently while also keeping you warm on colder nights. A base layer typically consists of a synthetic t-shirt and shorts for warmer weather, or long thermal underwear if packing for cooler climes.

Lightweight jackets, hats and gloves made of fleece or windproof materials may be necessary depending on the area’s climate. Consider investing in hiking boots with built-in gaiters to protect against water streams during wet months while avoiding shoes that cause uncomfortable blisters over terrain kilometres without stopping.


Choosing the right backpack for backpacking in Washington State is essential. Factors such as size, capacity, weight and comfort must be taken into account to ensure that the right model is chosen based on individual needs.

As most trips involve carrying food, clothing and camping gear up some of Washington’s iconic trails it important to find a lightweight backpack that can accommodate all items whilst being comfortable.

The author recommends going for a lighter option if possible but not compromising on safety features such as adjustable straps and pockets; consider brands like Osprey, Arc’teryx or Katabatic Gear when selecting your ideal pack.

Each has its own advantages; Ultralight packs are easier to carry over long distances without tiring while techno-loads are great for longer trips due to their greater load carrying capabilities and more robust construction.


Choosing a tent for backpacking in Washington State is an important decision. Not only must it be lightweight, durable, and dependable against wet and cold weather conditions, the capacity must also suit the number of people camping at one time.

Different terrains call for different shelter systems such as three-season vs four-season tents or freestanding vs semi-freestanding models. For example, areas that are likely to experience heavy winds require more stability and strength like those provided by a freestanding tent with plenty of stakes.

Shelter options

  • TentsZip together tents can be used for a variety of different sized groups, while it is best to keep a lightweight tent that fits your group’s camping needs. These are beneficial in keeping the group safe from the elements, with some able to weather-resistant and stand up under heavy winds.
  • Hammocks: A hammock can be great alternative to a tent, providing space and comfort while freeing up more area in packs. They’re great for protection from the rain and bugs. Make sure you look for good straps that provide secure suspension setup if you’re using trees as anchor points.
  • Bivvy sacks: Bivvies are a light weight solution compared to other shelter options, perfect for solo hikes or trips where minimizing pack weight is necessary such as long fall hikes. Bivvies provide basic shelter against wind and awkward weather conditions but do not provide ventilation or bug protection.

Sleeping bag and sleeping pad

A comfortable and weather resistant sleep system are essential gear for any backpacking journey in Washington State. Sleeping bags and their associated sleeping pads provide warmth, insulation, and cushioning while camping outdoors or on the trail.

Depending upon the expected weather conditions during a given trip, sleeping bags come in either synthetic material, known for its durability and ability to remain warm even when wet, or down filling which is lightweight yet offers excellent insulation from cold temperatures.

For additional comfortability, many backpackers opt for self-inflating sleeping pads which easily slip into compartments built into many of today’s modern mummy shaped bags.

Kitchen gear and hydration

When backpacking in Washington State, it is important to have the right cooking and hydration equipment. This list provides an overview of the essential kitchen items for a successful backpacking experience:

  1. Lightweight backpack stove – A lightweight stove should be at least powerful enough to heat up water for hot beverages and meals. Choose one that boils quickly and uses fuel efficiently.
  2. Cookware – camping pots and pans for both simmering and frying food on campfires or stoves.
  3. Water filters/purifiers – Investing in water filters/purifiers allows you to take advantage of natural bodies of freshwater such as rivers, streams, and lakes without having to carry extra bottles of water while hiking long distances.

Local Outdoor and Park Authorities

  1. National Park Service: You can find specific contact information for each National Park within Washington State on the National Park Service website ( The National Park Service oversees parks such as Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park. The specific park web pages will typically contain phone numbers, physical addresses, and email addresses for visitor information and park authorities.
  2. Washington State Department of Natural Resources: This agency manages public lands within the state. You can visit their website ( for contact information and resources.
  3. Washington State Parks: This organization oversees the state parks in Washington. Visit their website ( for specific contact information for each state park, including phone numbers and physical addresses.


Washington offers an abundance of options for outdoor adventurers and backpackers, with diverse landscapes ranging from sand dunes and islands to snowy mountain peaks. Popular backpacking destinations in Washington include Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National ParkHidden Lake LookoutSkyline Trail Loop at North Cascades National ParkSpade and Venus Lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, Marmot Pass at Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, Snow Lake Trail near Snoqualmie Pass ski resort area as well as Waterfalls Creek-Mystic Lake route on the Wonderland Trail around Mt.

Rainier. With its varied terrain and unparalleled beauty paired with opportunities for adventure and exploration awaiting backpackers seeking a one of a kind experience — Washington is a traveler’s paradise!

Kristina M.

Kristina M.

Kristina Meyers is a dedicated blogger based in Southern California. With a background in architecture and urban planning from the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning at Cornell University, and multi-media from the London College of Communication (formerly the London College of Printing), Kristina's passion for promoting fair trade, sustainability, and eco-friendly practices led her to create Fair Trade Finder. Kristina's passion for sustainability extends to her love for travel. She is an avid explorer who has embarked on camping and hiking journeys across stunning landscapes in Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland. With an understanding of the importance of ethical choices in all aspects of life, Kristina brings her travel experiences to Fair Trade Finder. She curates a purposefully chosen assortment of fair trade products, with a particular emphasis on outdoor gear. Her ultimate goal is to empower fellow conscious consumers to make ethical and sustainable choices for their outdoor adventures.

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