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Starter backpacking trips in/around Seattle

Hello everyone 

I live in the Seattle area and want to start backpacking.  I’ve been getting equipment over the winter and wonder about first trips to work the kinks out and get my kit dialed before bigger trips or taking my daughter out.   I was thinking maybe some hike in campgrounds in the area....maybe 3-7 miles in to get some practice.  Does anyone know of any good hike in camp grounds or areas that would be good for this in this area? (once things open up of course, but just planning trips will help at this point!)


Thanks for the help!

6 Replies

@MTBC-Dub You can try Beckler peak, it's about an hour drive out, short hike, and camp along the summit.  something super family friendly would be deception pass, great views and a friendly place. once you get your feet wet, put in for enchantments. although classified as a day hike be prepared for over night stays with inclement weather. 


Hey @MTBC-Dub !

I am so excited for you and your daughter to do some backpacking when things open back up!  Also, planning trips is really fun and a great thing to do in the meantime. Before I make any recommendations on places to go, I wanted to send three of my favorite planning resources your way.  

1) The Seattle REI has an amazing Ranger Desk that is staffed with Rangers from the National Parks as well as the US Forest Service. Even during the store closure, they are available via phone and email. The have vast knowledge on all the great trails we have in Washington. 

2) My favorite book for dreaming about my next hike is 100 Classic Hikes: Washington. It has very detailed information about each hike, and it is fun to work through all the wonderful hikes in the book. 

3) I have posted this before; a great resource for Trails in Washington is the WTA. I use the app on my phone all the time. There is so much information included for each hike, including up-to-date trip reports from other hikers. 

OK, in terms of some great places for starting out: 

Cape Alava Loop AKA Ozette Triangle over in the Olympic National Park is a beautiful and easy backpack trip. It is 9.4 miles RT, and is pretty flat.  

Another great option, if you want a bit more elevation gain, the Summerland - Panhandle Gap in Mount Rainier National Park is wonderful. If you want to make it a shorter trip, you can stop at Summerland Camp at about 4.5 miles.  

Whatever you choose, it is always a good idea to get in touch with the rangers to find out how the conditions are in the area and what permits are required. 

Have fun planning!


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

@REI-KaraS Thanks for the tips!! I think I’ve heard of Beckler peak and I know I want to do the enchantments!! 
Thanks Kara for the book recommendation, I love the WTA site but there is almost too much I didn’t know where to start! 
I’m looking forward to planning and then actually getting out there for some trips!

@MTBC-Dub Check out the hike to waptus lake on trail 1310 which starts at salmon la sac (exit 73, suncadia exit on i90).  The trail to waptus is relatively flat. It is about 10 miles to the lake but there are a number of sites along the way starting around mile 3 next to a small but nice river (actually Waptus Creek).  My son wants to try backpacking this year and I am planning on this as a good starter since we can stop early if the hike gets too much.

Also +1 on  You're right about there being a lot of info to digest, but you should always search for your hike (enter trail number or destination in the search bar) to check out the trip reports.  Other hikers enter trip reports to provide beta on trail conditions, closures, etc.  It is a great resource.

@MTBC-Dub @JerryR @Bausfactor Great conversation!

We wanted to let you know that we recently launched a new All Locations landing page and added a lot of new boards for the many places people have lived and recreated – we’d love if you were able to share pictures of these places or suggest specific locations to get outside. Any and all places you have experience with! Thanks!

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

@MTBC-Dub Late to the conversation but I love to take first-time backpackers to Baker Lake. Although it’s a bit far from Seattle, I am in Bellevue and have done it as an overnight headinh Out from the city around 7am. It’s doable for most of the year as a lower-elevation trail, and elevation gain isn’t bad at all. The campsites are super well-maintained and have bear lockers, tables, fire pits and firewood.

You can kind of choose how far you want to go: if you get to the first set of campsites and still want to keep going, you can push forward to the next set. 

Only thing is, the last stretch of road to the trailhead can be awful so you’ll definitely want a car with high clearance! Last time I went we took our chances in a Prius and made it in/out okay (barely)..