Low-Key Overnight Backpacking Destinations
We've selected trails that are perfect for novice backpackers, or for those interested in backpacking trips with lower mileage and more time for relaxing and enjoying the scenery. On them you can explore various regions of the state and experience the diverse beauty Washington has to offer.
You may notice that many of these destinations are also day hikes. Extending a day hike into a longer overnight trip adds an entirely new experience, with opportunities to watch the sun rise and set, and stargaze.
New to backpacking or want a refresher on what to pack and how to keep camp? Check out our Backpacking 101 series:
Twisp Pass - Dagger Lake
Location: Near Twisp
Length: 9.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2460 feet
Larches anyone? These golden beauties and the brilliant red of huckleberries are a key reason to hike here in the fall. But what about summer? How about wildflowers, spectacular views along the route and an incredible North Cascades vista. Many hikers do it as a day hike, but why not stay overnight? Just drop down to Dagger Lake where you'll find more roaming possibilities. And while you're hiking, admire the fine rock work along the trail - courtesy of WTA volunteers.
> Plan your trip to Twisp Pass and Dagger Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide
Location: Highway 20
Length: 12.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1300 feet
This low elevation trail allows for early and late season adventures along the emerald green waters of Thunder Arm through giant old growth forests. As you continue to travel along Thunder Creek be sure to stop and admire the periodic forest canopy openings to take in the views of towering peaks surrounding the valley. McAllister Creek camp is reached in six miles and is a perfect location to set up camp, relax and soak in some of the backcountry magic of the North Cascades. Note: this trail is within North Cascades National Park and will require an overnight permit to camp.
> Plan your trip to Thunder Creek using WTA's Hiking Guide
Mazama park via ridley creek
Location: Mount Baker Area
Length: 7.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2600 feet
This area offers just about everything one would want for an overnight outing. After hiking through dense forest, you'll find beautiful meadows and a picture perfect log shelter. During berry season, the meadows offer a tasty treat of blueberries that shouldn't be passed up, and in the fall the area turns into waves of red, orange and yellow foliage. Plus, there is an excellent opportunity to extend your trip to the nearby Park Butte lookout.
> Plan your trip to Mazama Park using WTA's Hiking Guide
Location: Mountain Loop Highway
Length: 11 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4300 feet
This hike starts out on an old road grade, but the gradual ascent quickly turns into switchbacks and more switchbacks. After ascending through the trees, and getting a serious workout in the process, you'll break out onto Lost Creek Ridge. At the right time of year these hills are carpeted in wildflowers. Once on the ridge drop down a short ways over the other side to this charming little lake.
> Plan your hike to Round Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide
Beverly Turnpike - Bean Creek Basin Loop
Location: Near Cle Elum
Length: 8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3200 feet
If you are looking for classic Teanaway views with early-season wildflowers or late-season berry bonanzas, then this is the hike for you. The trail climbs up quick to get the heart pumping, but it will leave you breathless not because of the elevation gain but because of the spectacular views from the pass. Take in the majestic views of Mount Stuart and the striking granite beauty of the Stuart Range. From here, you can head over Hardscrabble Creek and down Bean Creek Basin to experience new scenery on your way down. There are also plenty of opportunities for side adventures here: Iron Peak, Volcanic Neck, Devil's Peak and more!
> Plan your loop on Beverly Turnpike and Bean Creek using WTA's Hiking Guide
Lower South Fork Skokomish River
Location: Olympics - West
Length: 8.5+ miles, roundtrip
Elevati Gain: 800 feet
Venture up the Lower South Fork of the Skokomish River for an abundance of flora and fauna amid lush old-growth and relative solitude. The trail begins with a series of switchbacks, quickly climbing a few hundred feet past sword fern and salal before leveling out. The wide, well-maintained trail breezes past trees hundreds of years old and then abruptly descends back down to the riverside. As you wander along, enjoy the sounds of the river and watch as the forest shifts easily between stands of maple and alder to hemlock and fir. While the river ramble is lovely in it's own right, you can continue onward up to Six Ridge for lakeside and mountain views.
> Plan your to the Lower South Fork Skokomish using WTA's Hiking Guide
colonel bob peak
Location: Pacific Coast
Length: 8.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3500 feet
This peak allows for unrivaled views of the Olympic Peninsula. Located on the southwest side of the park, views include the Pacific Ocean, Grays Harbor, Lake Quinault and the Quinault River, the Olympic rainforest and Mount Olympus. On a clear day, this rugged peak is the perfect place to sit and watch the world below. High above the Quinault River Valley, it is easy to drift away to hundreds of years ago, as many of the sights you see are mostly unchanged.
> Plan your hike to Colonel Bob using WTA's Hiking Guide
Location: Northern Coast
Length: 8.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1650 feet
Visit the lush forest near Sol Duc for a day hike or a short overnight. Begin heading down the popular, well-maintained trail to Sol Duc Falls. Soon, pass the entrance to the Lover's Lane Trail, where the route begins climbing up to Deer Lake. Along the way to the lake, hikers parallel Canyon Creek, which has several waterfalls. Stop to admire these and take some photos. Note: this trail is within Olympic National Park and will require an overnight permit to camp.
> Plan your hike to Deer Lake using WTA's Hiking Guide
Greenwater and Echo Lakes
Location: near Mount Rainier
Length: 14 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
Towering old growth forest, a fast-moving river, two backcountry lakes and a good chance to catch a trout make this an appealing trail for hikers and backpackers alike. Greenwater Lake lives up to its name and Echo Lake — the larger of the two — is a nice place to camp, fish and even cool off on a hot day.
> Plan your visit to Greenwater and Echo Lakes using WTA's Hiking Guide
Toutle Trail - Blue Lake to Loowit Trail
Location: Mount St. Helens
Length: 11.0 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2899 feet
Mountain views, rare old growth forest and and filled meadows will keep any hiker moving along this trail. In around 3 miles, you'll reach the large campsite just before the Sheep Canyon bridge. Instead of calling it a day here, drop your pack and continue onward to the Loowit trail and create a lovely lollipop loop that climbs up close and personal with Mount St. Helens before dropping back down to the campsite.
> Plan your visit to the Toutle Trail using WTA's Hiking Guide
Killen Meadows - Adams Creek Meadows
Location: Mount Adams Wilderness
Length: 10 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
Hikers will find wildflowers and berries galore as they hike through alpine meadows with panoramic views of Mount Adams. You will reach the East Fork Adams Creek in about 2.5 miles to find the first of several campsites, or continue on to join the Pacific Crest Trail toward Killen Meadows. This is a popular trail for climbers heading toward High Camp where they set up base camp to summit Mt. Adams. Please remember to camp on durable surfaces or near trees as these amazingly colorful and sensitive meadows need time to recover from frequent use.
> Plan your trip to Killen Meadows using WTA's Hiking Guide
Location: Pasayten Wilderness
Length: 12 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1550 feet
Expansive, rolling alpine wilderness that offers endless opportunities for wandering is the highlight of this hike. To really experience this remarkable area you must bring a backpack and stay one or two nights. This sunny and open paradise is a great place to explore. A gentle ascent to Sunny Pass gives way to rolling alpine meadows, lakes and tarns. And from your campsite any number of accessible peaks will beckon you to climb and soak in the views.
> Plan your visit to Horseshoe Basin using WTA's Hiking Guide
Location: Colville National Forest
Length: 8-16 miles (with car shuttle)
Elevation Gain: 2000+ feet
This little-known area is full of broad vistas, rolling hills and incredible solitude. Thirteenmile offers all of these and a whole lot more — glorious ridges, forested valleys, the charred remains of lightening-struck trees and the chance to ramble for miles. Bring your own water, as sources dry up as the season progresses.
> Plan your hike to Thirteemile using WTA's Hiking Guide
Jungle Hill Loop
Location: Okanogan Highlands/Kettle River Range
Length: 15.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 3,348 feet
This loop provides hikers with the perfect tour of the Kettle Range. Hikers will go between open grassy meadows and hills of sagebrush along their route, enjoying the gentle rolling hills and valleys along the way.
> Plan your visit to the Jungle Creek Loop using WTA's Hiking Guide