Backpacking is a great way to unplug, connect with nature, and explore the beauty of our planet. And there are plenty of beginner backpacking trips for newbies.
If you’ve never done a multiday outdoor trip before, backpacking may sound intimidating. But with a little training and strategic route selection, you can ease yourself into the adventure.
Here, we’ve rounded up six beginner backpacking trips. Along the way, these will help you experience the joy of backcountry trips without the advanced nature that many routes present.
6 Beginner-Friendly Backpacking Trips in the US
Point of Arches in Olympic National Park, WA
Ringing in at 8 miles roundtrip, Point of Arches is the perfect starting hike for folks looking to get into backpacking.
The out-and-back trail travels along the northern Olympic Coast. It passes tide pools and sea stacks before ending at Point of Arches. Once you’ve reached Point of Arches, hikers have the option to retrace their steps back to the parking lot or connect with the Ozette Loop.
The trail features just 200 feet of elevation gain. Further, there are lots of camping options along the way. This makes it easy to break up the trip into whatever intervals you feel comfortable with.
Before heading out, be sure and purchase a Makah Recreation Pass in Neah Bay.
Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur, CA
Located in the Ventana Wilderness, Sykes is one of the more challenging beginner trips but well worth the effort.
The hike to the springs is approximately 10 miles (20 miles roundtrip) via the Pine Ridge Trail. It features undulating hills and a couple of creek crossings along the way. The trail meanders through redwood forest before reaching the springs, which are situated above the creek.
I’ve always done it as a 2-day trip. But if you’d prefer to break it up, there are three additional campgrounds along the way.
Campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis so there’s no need to obtain a permit. Just be sure to register your group at the Big Sur Station trailhead before beginning your trek.
This was my first backpacking trip, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Gunsight Pass Trail in Glacier National Park, MT
Located in beautiful Glacier National Park, the Gunsight Pass Trail (19 miles point-to-point) is one of the easiest multiday hikes in the park.
The trail begins at the Gunsight Pass Trailhead and finishes at the Lake McDonald Lodge (the Glacier Shuttle bus services this route). Along the way, hikers are treated to views of waterfalls, breathtaking lakes, sweeping meadows, the Blackfoot Glacier, and a massive river of ice.
To make it beginner-friendly, break up the hike into 3 days. And if you’re feeling adventurous, add in the 6.6-mile roundtrip hike to Sperry Glacier.
Be sure to secure a permit and reserve your backcountry campsite before heading out. Gunsight Lake and Lake Ellen Wilson are some of the most scenic campgrounds in the park.
Manana Ridge Trail in Pearl City, Oahu, HI
Located in the Ewa Forest Reserve, the hike along the Manana Trail to the Ko’olau Ridge Summit is approximately 6 miles (12 miles roundtrip).
The trail begins with a gradual incline and passes by eucalyptus, brushbox, and guava trees. Once you enter the native forest, you’ll begin to see additional flora such as naupaka, koa, ohia, lobelia, olapa, and kopiko.
The beginning of the trail is fairly easy. But the latter half of the trail tends to be overgrown, so pack or wear a pair of pants if you plan to hike all the way to the end.
Campsites are not designated, but camping is allowed 10 feet from the trail with a permit. When I did this hike, I found the second half of the trail was too overgrown for pitching a tent, so I’d suggest setting up camp somewhere before the 4-mile mark.
If you feel like doing a little extra credit, tack on an additional 1.5 miles by hiking to Waimano Falls.
Fairy Head Loop Trail in Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land, ME
Situated along Maine’s eastern seaboard — close to the Canadian border — is the beautiful Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land.
While there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, the Fairy Head Loop Trail (11 miles total) offers diverse scenery as it navigates along coastal and inland trails. The trail follows the rugged coast for approximately 4 miles before veering inland. Hikers can expect to see pine forests, rocky shorelines, beaver ponds, marshes, seabirds, and wildflowers along the way.
Backcountry campsites are available at Long Point and Black Point Cove. Further, the trek can be broken down into 3 days. It’s well-suited for beginning hikers.
Lake Verna Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Located in northern Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park tops the bucket lists of many outdoor adventurers.
Including approximately 2,549 feet of total elevation gain, the Lake Verna Trail (14 miles roundtrip) is a challenging yet rewarding hike for beginning backpackers. The hike features breathtaking views of the lake, meandering streams, plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings, and eight backcountry campsites along the way.
A couple of miles in, the out-and-back trail offers the option to tack on an additional 0.2-mile detour to Adams Falls. Be sure to obtain a camping permit ahead of time. And you need to pack a rain jacket, as showers are frequent in the Rockies.