Great Backpacking Loop Trips in the Northwest
It's time to begin planning some epic summer backpacking trips! While getting out, strapping on a pack, and hiking is generally always a good time, I particularly enjoy loop trips – there's just something satisfying about not having to backtrack while continually seeing new territory.
I've hiked some fantastic loops, and I know I have many more that I need to check of the list (Wonderland Trail!?!). This list is woefully small considering the amazing amounts of opportunities we have in the northwest, but there are some definite options here for those looking for a spectacular loop backpack this year.
Recommended: 3-4 days
The High Divide trail in the Olympics is one of the best backpacks in the Northwest. With beautiful, densely vegetated valleys, clear alpine lakes, waterfalls, and drop-dead amazing views of Mt. Olympus and it's rivers of ice, the High Divide Loop is a tough one to beat.
The Trail begins at the trailhead for Sol Duc Falls and continues up the Sol Duc River before climbing past Heart Lake and reaching High Divide. From High Divide, the view spans across the Hoh River Valley to Mt. Olympus, while numerous nice lakes dot Seven Lakes Basin to the north. The trail swings past Deer Lake, before meeting back up with the Sol Duc River and the trailhead.
Recommended: 3 days
The Goat Rocks Wilderness has several great loop options, with the Goat Lake Loop being my personal favorite. Goat Lake sits in a very cool Cirque, more reminiscent of the Rockies or North Cascades and stays ice covered well into the summer. Views of the surrounding Cascade peaks, like Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams span to south. The loop continues through flower-filled meadows on its way to Snowgrass Flat before dropping to Goat Creek and returning to the trailhead.
Northern Loop Trail
Recommended: 3 days
The king of all Cascade volcanoes is on highlight with this great loop, but this trail also includes some very nice alpine areas with backdrops of less prominant peaks, creating quite a bit of variety. The views of the North Face of Mt. Rainier are stunning, and the walk along the Carbon Glacier is quite surreal.
More Information on the Northern Loop Trail
Lakes Basin/Glacier Lake Loop
Recommended: 4-5 days
This loop samples some of the best scenery in one of the best mountain ranges in the entire Northwest. Numerous lakes, mountain peaks, clear streams, and because much of this trip is in alpine country, great views and wildflowers.
Beginning at the West Fork Wallowa River Trailhead, just south of Wallowa Lake, follow the East Fork Wallowa River to Aneroid Lake. Continue past Aneroid Lake, continuing south and dropping into the West Fork Wallowa River, with great views of Eagle Cap and the northern Wallowas. Continue up the valley to Glacier Lake, climb over Glacier Pass to Lakes Basin, and complete the loop by connecting back with the West Fork Wallowa River and following it to the trailhead.
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The Chain Lakes have always been on my radar. We finally made it, on a hot and smoky weekend in late August. It was as beautiful as I imagined.
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