Fulfill Your Hiking Dream! Here to help fellow hikers by offering wisdom, ideas, and lessons learned from a two-time AT North and South, Long Trail, Foothills Trail, Allegheny Trail, Colorado Trail, Florida Trail, Shenandoah Nat'l Park 500 miler completions. Former Ridgerunner, Author, and now Speaker
Guest Blog: Beginner's Backpack Spots in the Pacific Northwest
provided by COAST
Products, a Portland, Oregon based LED flashlight and outdoor knife company.
We had the opportunity to field test the HP 7 Coast flashlight and found it an excellent product for camping or for group backpacking. The push button switch is easy to activate with one hand. While on the heavy side for individual backpacker use, a ranger on patrol or backpacker group will find the "flood beam" helpful when hanging a bear bag at night or for Scouts setting up a tent. The flood or spot beam can be locked into place. It is durable and provides a well field of light for camp uses. It comes with its own sturdy holder that can fit on a belt. I am happy to recommend it.
- "Blissful", 2 time Appalachian Trail hiker and ridgerunner
Backpacking Spots in the Pacific Northwest
When asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, climbing legend
George Mallory famously responded, “Because it’s there.” Mallory’s sense of adventurous
exploration is just one of many good reasons to get into backpacking.
For one thing, a backpacking trip is far less expensive than a
vacation spent poolside – and far healthier. Just ask the “world’s oldest
backpaker,” Keith Wright, who is currently
traipsing around Europe at the ripe old age of 95. A hankering for freedom and breathtaking
beauty may be the most common motivators for strapping on a heavy pack and
exiting society for a few nights. Whatever your reasons for taking up
backpacking, this much is clear: Your safety and enjoyment depends on your
degree of preparation.
If you’re used to car camping, you may not be aware of just how
much planning (and physical exertion) is required for a backpacking expedition.
Navigation planning is the first thing to do. For beginning backpackers, a 4-6 mile
hike in, a night or two camping, and a 4-6 mile hike out is a good format.
Ideally, this expanse should consist of fairly even terrain – inclines will be
challenging with a 40- or 50-pound pack on your back.
Fortunately, the Pacific Northwest offers wonderful backpacking
spots for hikers of all ability levels, including beginners. Here are a few
favorite beginner-appropriate backpacking spots in the Pacific Northwest:
the Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic Peninsula is located west of Seattle; it is the northwestern
most area of the contiguous 48 states. It is also the sole temperate rainforest
in the United States. A trip to the Olympic Rainforest is unforgettable;
diversity abounds here.
Olympic Peninsula area, courtesy Lauralee Bliss
One great Olympic Peninsula trip for the learning hiker begins at the
Hoh Ranger Station and continues for
12 miles along flat ground. Breathtakingly tall ancient trees create a canopy
overhead. As you become a more experienced hiker, you can venture to the more
remote eastern side of Olympic National
Dark firs border the Lewis
River, which is located just 75 miles northeast of Portland. This tributary
of the Columbia has an enchanting turquoise tone. There are plenty of places
along the Lewis River where beginning backpackers can park and hike a short
distance in to established camping spots.
Backpacking Around Mt. Hood
When you’re slogging along the trail, sore, hungry, and tired,
there’s nothing like a phenomenal view to keep you motivated. The Elk Cove hike is perfect for the
view-hungry alpinist. After about a mile of hiking through mossy forest, you
reach a ridgeline with commanding views of Mt. Hood. Camp here or continue on
as far as you like along this 10-mile trail.
Multnomah Falls, Courtesy Lauralee Bliss
in the Columbia Gorge
Eagle Creek is another great beginning backpacking trail near Portland.
Considering the stunning waterfalls along Eagle Creek, it’s no surprise that
it’s a popular trail. In the summer, you’ll have plenty of company – often a
good thing for beginning backpackers.
These Pacific Northwest backpacking spots are great for the beginner.
Once you know where you’re headed, ensure that your pack is complete. Do you
have a trusty tent? How about a stove and a backup stove with fuel? In addition
to bedding, a camp kitchen, food, water and a water filtration system, you’ll
want a high-quality LED torch, such as the G45 LED flashlight from COAST.
With its clear white flood beam and impact resistance, the G45 will probably
light your way along the trail for years to come.
One last planning consideration to remember for beginning
backpacking is that you will probably need a forest pass or other permit to
park and hike in the areas mentioned above. Nearby ranger stations are
typically happy to sell wilderness passes.