With its vast land area and diverse ecosystem, the options for backpacking trips in the United States are endless! The heart-stopping wild scenery will always be worth miles of hiking on trails and hopping on and off different sorts of public transport.
While there is backpacking in both urban and rural settings, this article mainly features backpacking in the wilderness.
The United States is rich with natural wonders! There are several national parks in the country which give the perfect opportunity for people to reconnect themselves with nature and get away from the urban hubbub.
People, seriously, need a lot of break from this fast-paced, technologically-driven world where they always look at screens of their phones, laptops, and HDTVs. It is as if they depend their lives entirely on them.
It’s time to unplug, get out of your comfort zone, and unleash your wanderlust by setting out on your backpacking adventure! Because of the myriad of backpacking destinations, it is impossible to list all of them. But these handpicked options below are guaranteed to give you the best backpacking experience ever.
1. Kesugi Ridge, Denali State Park (Alaska)
Alaska is known as “The Last Frontier,” which means there are lots of unspoiled natural wonders that await your discovery. One of them is the Kesugi Ridge Trail, a trail in Denali State Park.
The hike can be accessed by at least four points, with the longest route being almost 58 kilometers. Doing some research before hiking is essential because there are surely obstacles that will go your way. In other words, the Kesugi Ridge Trail is not for the faint-hearted: you may encounter extremely steep climbs, numerous cairns and boulders, and sometimes fog (bringing a compass is highly recommended). Some access points may not be available to the public due to floods or a good bear population, that is why you should also carry a bear pepper spray.
While the Kesugi Ridge Trail is not as famous as the other hiking trails in Alaska, it is teeming with unparalleled views and unique geological features. Only experienced hikers can take on the challenge to enjoy these one-of-a-kind rewards offered by Mother Nature. On a good, clear day, one can enjoy breathtaking vistas of the Alaskan alps, which include Mount Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), the tallest mountain in the USA, and entire North America. Summer and autumn seasons are the best time to hike there.
2. Lost Coast Trail (California)
A state of over 40 million and home to the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley, California still has some hidden natural gems. One of these gems is the Lost Coast Trail. Most people, even Californians themselves, have not heard of this trail at all. Why? Well, because it is lost!
The Lost Coast Trail is a trail that stretches a section of California’s northern coast running from Mendocino into Humboldt counties. Because of its sheer remoteness and ruggedness, only a few experienced hikers and backpackers have dared to go there. Developers once attempted to build a road through this trail, but ultimately failed. Up to now, the Lost Coast Trail remains an unspoiled natural wonder that seems to be forever shrouded by mysticism. The Lost Coast Trail remains the longest undeveloped coastal stretch in the entire California.
The Lost Coast Trail acquires its name from its tendency to vanish during high tides and the utter lack of paved pathways in the area.
The King Range meets the Pacific Ocean, and the trail cuts through secluded beaches and rugged mountains. Once on top of the highlands, hikers will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. But because of the extremely high tides, locating the trail on the beach becomes a nearly impossible feat. So if you plan to go to the Lost Coast, first you need to know when exactly will the high tides occur. The Lost Cost Trail is quite inaccessible to most people, so make sure that you are completely decisive in your plans to hike there. Bears may also roam the area, so hikers are recommended to carry bear-resistant pepper sprays.
3. Tonto Trail (Arizona)
Situated within the Grand Canyon, the Tonto Trail is one of the best ways to experience the world-famous national park. It is a 70-mile-long trail that crosses several other trails: the South Bass Trail, Boucher Trail, Hermit Trail, Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, the New Hance Trail, and the Grandview Trail.
Although the Tonto Trail is usually classified as a South Rim trail, it doesn’t really begin at either terminus of the Grand Canyon rim. The Tonto Trail actually runs from the south bank of the Colorado River to the eastern end of the Red Canyon.
The biggest issue when hiking the Tonto Trail is potable water, especially during the hot summer months. You can get water sources from the Garden Creek, Hermit Creek, and Monument Creek – but it is extremely important to purify and treat the water as it can be loaded with metals, germs, and bacteria. You can buy water filters that are specifically designed for hikers and backpackers such as the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter and mini-water filtration products from Sawyer.
4. Long Trail (Vermont)
If you want to give a significant highlight to your hiking trips, you might as well tread on the country’s most historic hiking trail – the Long Trail in the state of Vermont. It is the oldest long-distance trail in the country which started in 1909 as a personal dream of a local teacher named James P. Taylor. He then lobbied for support from the locals, and the action led to the actual start of the trail’s construction a year later. It took over two decades before the construction of the trail was finished.
The Long Trail runs 434.5 kilometers from Massachusetts to the Canadian border. It stretches along the main ridge of Vermont’s Green Mountains. While the Long Trail is famously described as Vermont’s “footpath to wilderness,” its character actually borders on the backcountry. The trail takes you to jagged peaks and passes through immaculate ponds, alpine bushes, forests replete with hardwood trees, and streams with rapid currents.
5. Appalachian Trail (Georgia and Maine)
Also known as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Appalachian Trail is a 75-mile (120-kilometer) long trail in the Eastern US. It stretches from Springer, Georgia, to the northern end of Katahdin Mountain in Baxter State Park, Maine.
Despite its isolation, the Appalachian Trail earns its fame precisely because of it. The most recommended time to hike there is between early spring and autumn. Due to its very remoteness, the trail can be quite dangerous for the less experienced hikers as it presents several possible hazards. They include severe weather, poison ivy, insect bites, and ticks that carry diseases. It is highly advisable that you should do your research first so that you will be able to protect yourself from any of these hazards.
Fortunately, there is a less risky option that’s ideal even for novice hikers – by covering the trail’s first 48-kilometer path. Although the terrain is still rugged, it offers beautiful natural sights. Among the most outstanding features include the Lower Wilson Falls, which is the highest falls in the Appalachian trail. You can also pass by pristine streams and endless opportunities for magnificent panoramic vistas from the rugged highlands. Give yourself at least three days to complete this hike.
Of course, you also want to have a lasting keepsake from your hiking adventure – something that you want to see and pore over…. again and again. If you regularly write a journal or want to write one, learn from this useful guide on how to keep a travel journal.