Five Top Secret Backpacking Trips in the Pacific Northwest
Updated: May 26
Memorial Day in the PNW is always a magical time. The rain has finally slowed down, and the green trees are flourishing. As a bonus, many people have a long weekend so it’s the perfect time to check off some of those long hikes you’ve always wanted to do. Here are five great backpacking trips to add to your list! Take it from someone who grew up with the pine trees, salty air, and fantastic coffee. Just make sure you check snow conditions before you go!
1. Mt Jefferson to Russell Lake, Mt. Jefferson Wilderness
4.5 miles in, 4.5 miles out. The nearest city to this hike is the Redmond/Bend area. It's a super great intro backpacking trip with scenery that you won’t soon forget. This hike follows the PCT into Jefferson Park, a utopia of lakes and mountain views.
2. Old Snowy Mountain via Snowgrass Trail, Goat Rocks Wilderness.
15.3 miles roundtrip, around 3,000 ft of elevation gain. The nearest city to this hike is Randle, WA. This difficult trail in Washington features beautiful wildflowers, snowy mountain viewpoints and lots of rocks. Truly, there are rocks everywhere.
3. Mckenzie River Trail, Willamette National Forest
24.1 miles roundtrip. The nearest city to this hike is Mckenzie Bridge or Eugene, Oregon. Features lots of water! A pretty laid-back trail, with only 747 feet of elevation gain. You’ll feel like a fairy moving through these perfect forests, and bathing in the stream.
4. Broken Top Loop Trail, Three Sisters Wilderness.
25 mile loop trail. 4,225 feet of elevation gain but boy oh boy is it worth it. The nearest city to the loop is Bend, Oregon. There’s an alpine lake at the top called No Name Lake, it’s a snow melt lake so it’s incredibly cold but jump in for a great cool off after a long hike. Trees are plentiful, dogs are welcome, and the stars are wild.
5. Marmot and Jade Lakes, Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
20.7 mile round trip. 4,284 feet of elevation gain. The nearest city to this trail is Roslyn, Washington. This hike leads you to emerald green lakes and beautiful wildflowers. There are multiple river crossings and steep inclines, so this is not for the faint of heart. Camp by an alpine lake, enjoy the stars and the moment.
If you've never done a backpacking trip before, getting the gear and the knowledge to get outside can feel like a challenge. There are a lot of great resources to learn how to backpack. Check out these most common mistakes made by beginner backpackers before you head out!
A great way to get the gear without breaking the bank is either your local used gear store or online used gear stories, such as Switchbackr. We have a large supply of backpacks, sleeping pads, and tents; with guides on how to pick them.
Regardless, this weekend is a perfect time to stretch those legs and see what the PNW has to offer!