8 Iconic Pacific Northwest Backpacking Trips

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The Pacific Northwest is an adventure junkie’s paradise. It’s a breathtakingly diverse playground of craggy granite peaks, high alpine lakes, meadows socked with wildflowers, a rugged windswept coastline, and more shades of green than your eyeballs can handle.

With so many stunning trails to choose from, it can sometimes be tough to find the ideal hike. That’s why we put together this list of our personal favorite Pacific Northwest backpacking trips. These are some of the most iconic and spectacular trails the PNW has to offer, so dust off your pack and add one of these gems to your summer adventure list.


  • Length: 93 miles
  • Days needed: 8-13 days (most people take around 10 days)
  • Location: Mount Rainier National Park
  • Best time to hike: Late July to mid-September
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

The Wonderland trail circumnavigates massive and spectacular Mount Rainier over the course of 93 miles. It’s a very challenging hike, with over 23,000 feet of elevation change, but the rewards are plentiful. With breathtaking glacier views, wildflower meadows, pristine lakes, and miles of lush rainforests, the ever-changing landscape of the Wonderland Trail will not disappoint.

Permits for this very popular hike can be secured in advance through a yearly lottery system, though the park does save some permits for walk-in travelers. In 2016 no advanced permits were issued, so all permits are being given on a walk-in basis. First come, first served. So, 2016 may be a good year to attempt this glorious beast of a hike.

Wonderland Maps & Guides

  • Cleverhiker Wonderland Trail Backpacking Guide – Our quick guide to assist you in planning your trip around Rainier.
  • Wilderness Trip Planning Map – This basic map from the National Park Service will give you a general idea of campsite locations and distances between them.
  • Green Trails Map 269S – Mount Rainier Wonderland – This is a fantastic map for hiking the Wonderland Trail. It’s a detailed topographical map that’s ideal for use along the trail.
  • Hiking the Wonderland Book – A complete guide to the Wonderland by a Washington native that’s hiked the trail seven times. An excellent source of information.
  • Plan & Go Wonderland Book – A comprehensive guide that contains everything you need to know for hiking the 93-mile Wonderland Trail.
  • Backpacking Washington Book – This hike is covered in the Backpacking Washington book as well, just not in quite as much detail.
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