What Are Some Hiking and Backpacking Trails in the USA?

The United States offers an amazing array of hiking backpacking trails for those who prefer adventurous vacations over luxurious tourist holidays. Your travel agent would be able to advise you on what type of trail would be the best for you depending on your physical fitness, the degree of difficulty and your preference of location.

For your safety, it would be good to plan on traveling with a friend, since the trails could be lonely and full of unpredictable dangers, which you could tackle better if you are in the company of another person. Alternatively, you could employ the services of a recommended local guide. Never go alone, because this could be very dangerous in case you meet with an accident or fall sick on the way.

Choosing the right trail would often depend upon your personal choice of location, as well as being physically fit for the type of trail you want. The Mount Whitney Trails are great for the real rough and tough people. Here, you need to have a special permit for your travels and you need to be in top physical condition, but if you go by what people say, you would get a traveling experience of a lifetime on these mountains.

Do you like to stretch your physical endurance to the max? If so, then the hiking backpacking trail of Kesugi Ridge in Alaska could be the right thing for you. Rough and demanding, this hiking trail is also one of the most amazing places in the world. A vacation such as this will leave an indelible mark on your mind and a wish to come back as often as possible.

For those who like to take it easy, while still enjoying incredible natural beauty, then choose Hawaii, also known as paradise on earth. The Kalalau trail, which ends on the beach of the same name, can leave you speechless with admiration.

There are many, many hiking backpacking in the United States which are remarkably beautiful. Depending upon your choice, you could choose any of the famous trails for your vacation adventure. These would put you in touch with nature in ways you would never have thought possible.

Wilderness Backpacking Trails in BC – Preparation – Lesson 1

If you are a 22 year old Olympian, please skip this section. On the other hand, if that doesn’t describe you, then I will outline the approach I took to getting my body ready to take on 47 miles of rainforest trail that followed the natural coastal terrain including dozens of vertical ladders up and down steep cliffs with a 50 pound pack on my back. In my mid fifties, overweight, out of shape and having the glory years of high school football fading by decades rather than just years, I needed a lot of work. On the front cover of the map that Parks Canada sends out to hikers who are pre-booked for the West Coast Trail is the phrase Recommended for experienced backpackers only. This is a wilderness backpacking trail that defines the genre. There are no bail out points where you can simply say, I give up, and expect someone to drive along and rescue you. If rescue is required due to a broken limb or something else serious, it arrives by Air and Sea Rescue plane or helicopter and you had better be a lot more than tired and hungry.

So, what did I do to prepare for this arduous 7 day trip of a lifetime? I began serious preparations about 6 months prior to our backpacking trip planned for late August. Midlife brings vastly improved powers of reasoning and I quickly deduced that to cover 47 miles would require a lot of walking and that’s where I started – walking at the fastest pace I could beginning with about 2 – 3 miles per day in a park area near our house. I kept stretching the pace and distance over a period of the first month and gradually got to the 4 – 5 mile per day mark when I realized that I had been passing a set of wooden stairs that joined a busy roadway with an elevated subdivision that I passed through. This offered the opportunity to add some climbing to the routine and during my daily walk, I added five repetitions of the stairs (81 stairs per rep) and continued to increase the number of reps to 10 per day. This was, unknowingly, going to become the most important part of the training program since wilderness backpacking trails on BC’s coastline require constant elevation changes as you move from sea level and up into the forest paths and return back to the sand many times a day.

I gradually started to accustom my body to this workload and as I did, I began running the stairs at a standard jogging speed which helped not only my leg strength but my aerobic conditioning as well. Next up, with about 2 months to go before the big trip was to start adding weight, not weightlifting – but that would have been a good idea, too. I put a small backpack on and every week added another 2 quart soda bottle full of sand in order to mimic what I thought would be the effects of a full size backpack on the trail itself. This may have saved my life on several occasions when the real test presented itself. That summarizes the training program that allowed me to drop about 20 pounds of ugly fat and create the very bare minimum of physical conditioning to complete the West Coast Trail. Our wilderness backpacking trail in BC would also require some equipment preparations that I will cover in the next episode.

Backpacking Trails in the Summer for Beginners

If you are one who loves the outdoors, being away from your hectic job, or just want a stress reliever then backpacking is a great choice. The idea behind backpacking is that your house is on your back which includes food, shelter, water, sanitary equipment, first aid kit, and anything else you can think of which you may need on the trail. There is no seven eleven around the corner so you must be prepared for anything.

Many affluent backpackers can tell you backpacking begins away from the trails and woods. For beginners there are a couple of areas you need to focus on before throwing on the pack. First, is your health. Get a physical from a doctor to ensure you are able to enter the trail. Second, is finding a partner. Number one rule on any hike is a buddy system. Many people have died from being stranded or injured with nobody able to get help. Lastly, start training. A backpack can exceed a weight of 60 lbs. with all the gear in it. Upon entering the trail you will not encounter paved roads and flat surfaces, but inclines and declines with loose dirt as the trail surface. Training needs to consist of hiking every other day with a pack back filled with weight. The mileage of your hike and weight will need to increase every week to get the body use to this new obstacle on your back. After training around the neighborhood or the neighborhood park go out to a nearby trail to test your backpacking skills. The trail should give you a better understanding of how close you are to getting out to the actual backpacking trails.

Gear and food is the next area of focus. Gear includes the socks you wear to the light-weight stove you will you to cook on. Let’s start from the bottom up. As a back packer I hate boots. They are bulky, heavy, and give you no room to move. I prefer heavier duty trail shoes or tennis shoes. There is no ankle support which is the only disadvantage. Most of everything I say is a personal opinion and you the beginner back packer will need to see what fits you best by experimentation. Socks are the most crucial part of staying healthy on the trail. A thick backpacking sock also worn with a liner is the way to go. The liner is used to prevent blister and give aeration to the feet. Pants or shorts? I prefer both so get the polyester pants which can zip off into shorts. Reason for the pants is so your legs don’t get scratched and prevent ticks from entering your socks. A thin water wicking shirt should be sufficient to keep you cool on the trail. Also, don’t forget about the underwear. Never use cotton because you will chafe, so use a polyester boxer style brief.

Food should be very picky. Stick to dry foods which require water to make. The less weight the better. Foods need to have lots of protein and calories because you will lose a lot of energy on the trail. Absolutely never skip a meal because you will pay for it, so have a meal plan set out with snacks included.

Nobody can tell you which back pack is best for you. There are two options: external or internal frame. Go to an outdoor shop to try on many styles because some have more benefits over another. What goes in the pack: A tent, stove, eating equipment, cleaning supplies, food, water/water purifier, clothes, sleeping bag or something equivalent, hygiene supplies, food bag, and Ziploc bags. These items are only a small list of items. As you begin back packing you will discover what you need and don’t need for the next trip. All the items in your bag should be small and lightweight. The items I listed are very light and can be found online or any back pack retailing store. Asking questions to experts will help shorten your time till your first trip.

Wilderness Backpacking Trails in British Columbia – Lesson 2 – 2 Most Important Pieces of Equipment

The number one wilderness backpacking trail in BC is the West Coast Trail and it is essential to know what kind of equipment to carry and wear because there are many unique facts to consider. First however, is the matter of getting on the trail. This is a very ecologically sensitive rain forest trail with strict daily limits on the number of users who may start each day.

When we did it, the number was 26 per day from either end of the trail and I don’t think that has changed much. Consequently, it is absolutely vital that you reserve a starting date well in advance and have a couple of options in mind. After determining and reserving your start date, it is time to get down to the serious business of making sure you have the right equipment from your head to your toes and from your tent to your pack. I’m serious about that since over 80 people per season get flown out by Air and Sea Rescue with various injuries, mostly from falls.

In this article, I will deal with some more specific equipment recommendations from my own experience. Number one on the list is boots. You are going to walk, climb, slide, trip, stumble, balance, slosh, slog, tramp, slip, wade and crash your way over, under, around, through, beside, up and down this 47 mile trek through the rain forest while carrying everything you need including food, shelter and clothing for 7 days. Yes, you need a top quality pair of boots that fit properly, are well broken in and come up over your ankles. I would advise you to wear a pair of light, perhaps nylon, liner socks covered by top quality, heavy duty backpacking socks when you get fitted and then later on the trail.

Do not, under any circumstances, scrimp on this part of your equipment. Use a store that is very knowledgeable about backpacking equipment and if possible, talk to a salesperson who has actually hiked this trail. You must spend time breaking these boots in no matter what some rookie store clerk tells you, I suggest 2 months minimum of hard work. This should include as much rough terrain as you can find including mud, water, steep inclines and tree roots if you can possibly arrange it. They must be leather and have a waterproof liner, if possible, otherwise be sure to pack extra socks so you can change frequently. You should start wearing your boots the day you begin training for the West Coast Trail and don’t worry about what fellow walkers say, just tell them where you are going and enjoy the look of awe on their faces. If you don’t break them in, they will break you in, and painfully.

Next up, your backpack. I used one that had a capacity of about 70 L. You can vary the size a bit depending on the number of people in your party and whether you are male or female (in this case, females should pack less weight, so chivalry is not dead). The pack must absolutely have a waterproof cover and you might consider lining the inside with a plastic garbage bag for increased protection, it is a rain forest, remember. If something gets wet like your powdered food, socks, etc. they will not dry out. Yes, it could rain for all 7 days and nights. Check around your city, depending on where you live, you might find people who have done the WCT who would rent or lend you their pack. I cannot underestimate the importance of spending the time and money to obtain the best boots and the most comfortable backpack that you can find. Before you commit to the pack, make sure to load it with 40 to 50 lbs of weight and check all of the adjustments to make sure that it fits and rides on your shoulders, back and hips properly. This will take some time and effort but it is much easier to do this a couple of months before heading out than a day after you start the trail.

Boots and backpack should be your number 1 priority. The key information to understand is that you will be backpacking in an area that gets over 12 feet of rainfall per year and the trail is often covered in deep mud. It is essential that all of your gear is built for these kinds of conditions and that fashion is secondary to function, therefore leather boots and gators. These guidelines will make your experience on any of the wilderness backpacking trails in BC more pleasant but are essential on the West Coast Trail. Next time, in part two, I will cover things like hydration systems, water filters, light and more.

Wilderness Backpacking Trails – Contrasting the Big Three For Self Esteem Value

As a person who achieved the Triple Crown of wilderness backpacking trails in 1985, I am often asked to compare the big three National Scenic Trails. Going from the East coast to West, these are the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. Each one provides its own unique type of backpacking adventure that enhances different facets of your self-esteem.

The Appalachian Trail has the most through-hikers* attempting and completing the trail each year. Hundreds started the trail each year when I first through-hiked it in 1975, now thousands begin their journey each spring. Even if you start out hiking alone, as most do, chances are you will be hooking up with others at least for short stretches. The availability of frequent town stops and resupply provides another social dimension. It is the best of the three for enhancing your social self-esteem.

I through-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 1977. The trail was not yet complete and few backpackers tackled it back then. The completed trail offers more social networking now, but it still does not match the Appalachian Trail and that is not its main benefit anyways. Out of the big three, the Pacific Crest Trail is the most wild and beautiful, enhancing your spiritual self-esteem like none other. The Sierra Nevada in California is the most beautiful mountain range of any I have seen in the lower 48 states.

I save the Continental Divide Trail for last because that was the final leg of my Triple Crown journey. Estimates had the trail at 60% complete back in 1985, necessitating a lot of work with hiking maps and compass (no GPS back then). There was striking beauty to be sure, but the trail by definition follows the Continental Divide and cannot pick and choose its wild beauty as well as the Pacific Crest Trail. Yet because the trail is unfinished still it brings out the pioneer in you, particularly in the absence of a GPS receiver, and successfully navigating this trail provides the greatest emotional self-esteem.

Of course, each of these wilderness backpacking trail enhances your self-esteem socially, spiritually, emotionally and in a few other ways besides. What I have shared here is what might be considered their specialties. A backpacking adventure on one of these National Scenic Trails provides the rites of passage often lacking in western culture.

*Thru-hiker = one who hikes the entire length of a trail. Thru-hiked = having hiked the entire length of a trail.