Now completely updated for a second edition, Backpacking Washington remains the only comprehensive guide to all of the Evergreen State’s best extended backpacking trips. Ranging from three days to two weeks, these 28 adventures visit every corner of the state, including the wild beaches of the Olympic Peninsula, the vast interior of the Pasayten Wilderness, Mt. Rainier’s famous Wonderland Trail, the volcanic wasteland around Mt. St. Helens, and the little-known Salmo-Priest Wilderness, where hikers may glimpse grizzly bears.
About the Author
Douglas Lorain’s family moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1969, and he has been obsessively hitting the trails of his home region ever since. With the good fortune to grow up in an outdoor-oriented family, he has vivid memories of countless camping, hiking, bird watching, and other trips in every corner of this spectacular area. He calculates that, over the years, he has logged well over 32,000 trail miles in this corner of the continent, and despite a history that includes being bitten by a rattlesnake, shot at by a hunter, stuck in quicksand, charged by grizzly bears (twice!), and donating countless gallons of blood to “invertebrate vampires,” he happily sees no end in sight.
Lorain is a photographer and recipient of the National Outdoor Book Award. His books cover only the best trips from the thousands of hikes and backpacking trips he has taken throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and beyond. His photographs have been featured in numerous magazines, calendars, and books, and his other guidebook titles include 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon, Afoot & Afield: Portland/Vancouver, Top Trails: Olympic National Park and Vicinity, One Best Hike: Mount Rainier's Wonderland Trail, Backpacking Oregon, and Backpacking Idaho.
After spending decades exploring the trails of the Pacific Northwest, he now lives in Hamilton, Montana, with his wife, Becky Lovejoy.
Mark Wetherington began backpacking in 2007 while a student at the University of Kentucky and obsessively explored the trails and landforms of the Southeast before moving to Montana in 2014. Since arriving in Big Sky Country, he has spent as much time as possible exploring the wilderness areas and other public lands of Montana, Washington, and Idaho via boots, snowshoes, and cross-country skis. Seeking “the next best place to wake up”from alpine lakes to abandoned lookoutsserves as his main inspiration for backpacking.
Wetherington has worked in outdoor retail, freelance writing, and as a visitor services information assistant for the US Forest Service in Kentucky's Red River Gorge. He has been lucky enough to find a career working in public libraries and lives in Hamilton, Montana.
Read an Excerpt
The large and exceptionally rugged Alpine Lakes Wilderness fills a wide swath of land in the central Washington Cascades and serves as a transition zone between the gentler terrain to the south and the icy crags of the North Cascades to the north. This is a land of heavily forested canyons, ice-sculpted peaks, and enough lakes to make even residents of Minnesota, with its famous “10,000 lakes,” envious.
The Pacific Crest Trail cuts a swath through the rugged heart of this wilderness, along the way visiting many of the best beauty spots and offering side trips to many more. Close proximity to Seattle and easy access to both the north and south trailheads (you can even do it with public transportation) make this an exceptionally convenient extended backpacking trip in addition to being an exceptionally beautiful one. The trail isn’t easy, with thousands of switchbacks along the way that constantly take you up and over ridges and down into deep valleys, but it’s well worth every drop (or gallon) of sweat.
Glacier Peak Wilderness contains some of the most spectacular scenery in the northern Cascades. The Ptarmigan Traverse, described as one of the most beautiful routes in North American mountaineering, crosses the high country of the wilderness with Downey Creek being its southern terminus. While fairly well-known among mountaineers, the delightful scenery of Cub and Itswoot Lakes and the adjacent high country has not been an overly popular backpacking destination. That likely has to do with the section of trail along Bachelor Creek that serves as a formidable gatekeeper to the lakes and stunning mountain scenery and which has a somewhat exaggerated reputation as a path of almost Jurassic brutality. However, for well-conditioned backpackers, this trip offers a challenging and immersive wilderness experience that borders on the divine.
Although this hike can be done as an out-and-back to Cub Lake, doing so is almost unfathomable given the rewards that await you on the side trips to Mule Lake and Point 6495' and Itswoot Lake. The summit of Point 6495' affords breathtaking views that don’t require ice axe or crampons to obtain, and shallow Mule Lake allows for a refreshing post-peak swim. Itswoot Lake and its soul-stirring blue depths are complemented by a waterfall and jagged skyline of mountains behind it and hungry trout underneath its surface. If the berries are ripe and the weather is good, this area is as close to paradise as most backpackers can get.
Table of Contents
Featured Trips Overview Map
Trail Map Legend
Featured Trips Summary Chart
A Word About Motorcycles
A Word About the New Edition
General Tips on Backpacking in Washington
- Olympic CoastNorth
- Olympic CoastSouth
- High DivideHoh River Traverse
- Bailey Range Traverse
- Enchanted ValleyLaCrosse Basin Loop
- Northeastern Olympics Loop
- DungenessMarmot Pass Loop
- Northern North Cascades Loop
- Southern North Cascades Loop
- Western PasaytenRoss Lake Loop
- Buckskin RidgePasayten Peak Loop
- Larch PassHidden Lakes Loop
- Eastern Pasayten Loop
- Chelan Summit Trail
- Entiat River Loop
- Downey CreekCub Lake
- Glacier Peak Loop
- ChiwaukumLadies Pass Loop
- Alpine Lakes Traverse
- Northern Mount Rainier Loop
- Mount RainierWonderland Trail Loop
- American RidgeTwin Sisters Lakes Loop
- Goat Rocks Circuit
- Mount Adams Highline Trail
- Mount Margaret Backcountry Loop
- Mount St. HelensLoowit Trail Loop
- Yakima Skyline Trail
- Kettle Crest Trail
- SalmoShedroof Traverse
- WenahaTucannon Loop
Other Backpacking Options
About the Authors