If you haven’t walked four to 16 miles on a trail lately, set up a tent, slept under the stars, woken up, drank coffee, and watched the world wake up around you, and then walked four to 16 more miles back to your car, well, you’re missing out.
In no particular order, here are a few places to remedy that.
1. Pemi Loop, New Hampshire
The Pemi (as in “Pemigewasset Wilderness”) Loop is one of the hardest day hikes in all of New England, but if you split the eight-summit, 32-mile, 9,000-foot-elevation-gain loop into two days, it’s pleasant. Well, it’s still hard, but it’s absolutely stacked with scenery-the Twin and Franconia Range mountains are high, and some would argue even more scenic than the uber-famous Presidential Range. Multiple camping options are available along the loop.
2. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
If you’ve heard of one trail in Hawaii, it’s likely the Kalalau Trail, above, traversing five valleys along the Na Pali Coast before dead-ending at Kalalau Beach, a secluded, mile-long beach with multiple caves and a waterfall. The hike in is an up-and-down 11 miles, and is considered one of the toughest hiking trails in Hawaii.
3. Mt. Colden via Trap Dike, New York
Mt. Colden is the classic Adirondack mountaineering route-a fourth-class scramble above Avalanche Lake on exposed blocky terrain past a waterfall, then up a slide to the summit. Break it up into two days by grabbing a lean-to spot at Avalanche Camp, climbing Trap Dike the next morning, and looping back down the east side of Colden to Lake Arnold before grabbing your gear from Avalanche Camp on your way out. Thirteen miles total.
4. Mt. Whitney, California
Yes, you’ve heard of Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the Lower 48. It’s no secret that it’s a great hike. It’s also no secret that it’s 22 miles round-trip and 6,100 feet of elevation gain to the 14,495-foot summit, a crusher of a day hike. Backpacking means you’ll have a heavier pack, but just for the first 6.3 miles to Trail Camp, where you can sleep for the night at just over 12,000 feet and tackle the last five miles to the summit the next morning.