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Where was your first backpacking trip?

The very first time you backpacked, where was it? How long of a trip? Who did you go with? What went right? What went wrong? How old were you? Share the details!


My first trip, I was I believe 29 years old. Late bloomer! My family was never the outdoors type so I didn't start getting active in the outdoors until my mid 20s.

It was on the Potawatomi Trail in SE MI and camped at Blind Lake as an overnight. I was solo. I had ZERO backpacking gear and it was spur of the moment, so I borrowed a day pack from someone, put a small blanket in it, some TP, food and water, and I carried in my arms a 7lb Coleman tent! It was extremely rough hiking 7 miles carrying that thing. Haha. So I got no sleep at all and left out first thing in the morning regretting all my choices. 😆 

That did not deter me though, I eventually got real backpacking gear and have been on many, many successful trips since then. It's become a passion.

Share your story!

11 Replies


I was introduced to Leigh Lake, within the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness Area, outside of Libby MT, by a backpacking and fishing buddy, back in the 1980’s.

Only 2 primitive campsites existed at the mouth of the lake, adjacent to a log jam.

Native Western Slope Cutthroat Trout and Grizzly Bears were abundant. 

We dined on the trout, and were not dined upon by the Grizzlies. 

It remained a destination backpacking / fishing destination many years thereafter. 

Even during weekends, we never encountered other day hikers or backpackers.

We always had the lake to ourselves, sans the wildlife.



My first backpacking trip was to Manning Camp, in what is now Saguaro NP.  We signed out with hq, giving our itinerary, etc.  We stayed in the historic cabin, there, officially NPS controlled, but in those days (1950s), it was understood that the rare backpackers would use a cabin, leave it neat and clean, especially with dry kindling by the stove. My sister accompanied us and I remember I had to interview personally with the Dean of Women at the U of Arizona where we were both students in order for her to spend a night away from the dorm.

We often used backcountry cabins  also used by ranchers owning or leasing the land.  We soon learned that a loaded 30-30 lever action was routinely placed beneath the mattress.  We always behaved ourselves and left things in good shape.

Things have changed now, just a tad.....

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

We are in the process of getting the gear. Have most of it. Going on first trip with my 16 year old son. We will start out with just two nights somewhere in Washington State. Any recommendations for this state?

That is awesome! I hope you have an amazing time and come back here to tell us about it!

I haven't done any hiking in Washington so I couldn't give you any recommendations, but I'm sure someone else will help you out there. 


If you are on the east side of the Cascades, Mt. Spokane State Park is a great outdoor experience for hiking, camping, cross country and downhill skiing.

Be sure to check WA DNR wildfire updates, that may impact your travel plans.

If you want to push your travel into North Idaho and Northwest Montana, check back with me for options. 

If you're in western WA, I highly recommend the coastal section of Olympic National Park, specifically the Hoh rainforest. The eastern side of the park is rugged, less traveled, and generally more challenging.

There are also innumerable little trails along the Columbia Gorge, although they get a LOT of weekend use. If you can get Friday off, though, you can get ahead of the crowds and not see much of anyone until you hike out on Sunday. Nice thing about most of those trails is, there's water right next to the campsite!

If mountain views are your thing, I suggest Goat Rocks Wilderness or Mount Rainier National Park.

So many choices in your state!


A little more than a month ago. It was Forest Glen in Central Illinois. 

Solo trip so I was a bit nervous but it was just an overnight on a well-established trail and I was properly geared up. And I’ve been day hiking for a number of years so this was just throwing the camping portion into the mix. 

Had an absolute blast and my second trip is the day after tomorrow - another solo overnight. 

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)

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

That is awesome! Enjoy your second trip!


Big bend NP, we had to dig down in the dirt where a stream had gone underground, and strain the dirty water through a unworn cotton sock, yuck, but we survived and had a great time!

REI Member Since 1979