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Seeking suggestions of places to go backpacking - anywhere is fine!

I am getting back (in a limited way) into hiking and backpacking - it's been a while and I am not inexperienced - I've explored the Mineral Spring area in the Sierra Nevada range, quite a bit of the AT in North Carolina, Virginia, Vermont and New Hampshire (and a fair bit of the Long Trail in Vermont, north of where the AT cuts off and heads east).  

But that was a long time ago.  I am surely older now, in my 70s, in reasonably good shape and would like some suggestions where you folks  recommend.  One week-10 days in is about right as well as a few short trips.  Anywhere is fine - I am basically retired now (stuck overseas because of this damned COVID19 problem)  Looking for good suggestions, anywhere.  Not terribly tough.  


13 Replies

@DwightET this is such a fun question, and one you'll likely get LOTS of suggestions for (we've moved your post to the Backpacking board so community members will join in with their favorites)!

@Philreedshikes @hikermor @bryndsharp @OldGuyot @Rob6 @John @Hikes_in_Rain @HikingMema @Peaches70 what are your favorites?!

On a personal note, in Aug-Sept, I'd recommend coming to explore the North Cascades in the PNW - Cascade Pass and Hidden Lake Peaks are two of my very favorite big day hikes/overnights! Then you can head south to Mt. Rainier!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Thanks for the tag, Jen!

@DwightET , it sucks that you're stuck over there and can't get back home!  Because that's where I'd suggest getting your skills back. There are trails just about anywhere you are.  But since you are stuck, why not start where you are?  Some of the local folks should know where there's some good hiking, and might even like to act as a guide and show you where they keep the good stuff.  If you don't have your hiking stuff, maybe you can beg, borrow or rent some.  If you have to buy it, think minimalist and used so you don't spend too much or have to ship it back here.

As an aside, and I can say this because we're of an age, how's your gear?  I started hiking again back in the 80's, after a longish hiatus for "professional development", and found by comparing my stuff with that of other hikers that I was carrying WAY too much weight!  Some of it was new advances in lightweight material, some of it was that I didn't have much money when I first outfitted myself, and the cheap and/or homemade stuff I used was heavy.  I was also packing a lot of stuff I never used, which took a few trips to realize.  I'm in good shape too, with lots of daily cardiac exercise (I run three miles as hard as I can to get it over with! 😁), but I too am retired, was forced on Medicare (which made me feel old) and last month reached Social Security age (which helps $$-wise, but not with feeling younger!).  And my grandfather is now staring out of the mirror at me!  Granted, it's good to see him, and he's a great mime-copier, but it's also just a little creepy.  All that, just to say if you're still using your old gear, you might want to consider retiring it for lighter stuff.  Doing so has made a big difference for me.

Retired medical technologist and engineer
REI member since 1978
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@DwightET After Rainier, keep on heading South and reach Santa Catalina Island and  the Trans-Catalina Trail, 37 miles in length. Descriptions here:

Santa Catalina Island is thee most developed of the California Channel islands, but still with plenty of wildness.  After all, you are on a fairly remote island.

I have not done this trail, although it is on my bucket list.  Especially if you pick a time in the fall, settled, fairly mild weather is virtually guaranteed- no volcanic vents or glaciers.

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
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Hi @DwightET , you say 'anywhere'? Even 'anywhere' in the US is pretty broad.  Here's some recommendations:

1. Jim Bridger Wilderness, WY.  5-10 day loop out of Elkhardt or Boulder Lake Trailheads.  It's a wilderness, no reservations needed.

2. Maroon Bells 4 Pass Loop, Aspen, Co. Short trip, but good stretched out to 3-6 days.

3. Yosemite National Park Wilderness area, north of Tuolume Meadows, beautiful and not as crowded as the valley.

4. North Lake - South Lake Pass loop, John Muir Wilderness/Kings Canyon NP, out of Bishop, CA

5. Boulder Mail Trail, Escalante, Ut, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

good luck, let us know how it goes.

REI Member Since 1979

@DwightET Well, if you are stuck overseas, you are no where near some of my favorite destinations. Several of my favorites are in West Virginia, where the Dolly Sods, Otter Creek, and Cranberry Wilderness areas offer circuit hikes of two days and a night to several days and nights. You could cover a lot of ground without retracing your route much or having to plan for a shuttle.

aka "Boonerelli"

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@Johnsome of my fav's also.  Let me know the next time you're planning a trip.

REI Member Since 1979

@John Dolly Sods!  I had forgotten that great place.  I went up there from Raleigh in 1979 in March and spent a couple of days backpacking (until a early spring blizzard drove us out).  Time to look at that again. Thanks!

You might want to stay away on the weekends, or at least not to begin or end a trip on the weekends. The front country can get crowded on the weekends, especially around Bear Rocks, but few tourists/visitors venture more than a quarter to half a mile down any trail.

aka "Boonerelli"

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.

@DwightET  if you're anywhere near the German Alps or Switzerland, no backpacking, but I can recommend some fantastic hut hikes circuits.'s a link to an ill fated 'backpacking' trip to the Grossglockner region in 80something.  I pulled out the photos, scanned and tried to put something together.  This was over a columbus day long weekend.

REI Member Since 1979