Adventure Travel

Inspirational travel ideas for lovers of adventure travel and activity holidays, embracing everything from hiking, climbing, skiing, backpacking, camping and more.

Vital Outdoors' Top Backpacking Trails

Already starting to plan your backpacking trips for 2020? You aren’t alone. Everyone here is starting to plan their backpacking trips for next year, and we know how hard it can be to find a good trail. Take a look at some of our favorites here at Vital Outdoors, and get some inspiration for your next trip. 

Reflection Canyon, Utah: Danielle

One of Danielle’s favorite backpacking trips is down in the Southwest region of Utah. It requires a 50 mile drive down a 4WD dirt road before even getting to the starting point, and once there, it takes decent navigating skills and route finding skills as there is no true trail. It’s around eight miles of walking the desert and avoiding the crypto before getting to another couple miles of navigating slick rock. She loves it due to the amazing views at sunrise and the clarity of the stars at night. Danielle recommends doing this particular trip in spring to avoid the summer desert heat.

Canyon de Chelly, Arizona : Madison

Madison recommends backpacking through the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. To do this canyon backpacking trip, you will need a permit and a guide, which helps to preserve the natural and cultural landmarks of the park. While these restrictions may deter some, you are guaranteed to see some amazing things while learning about the history of the region. She loved being able to see some of the cave systems in the park as well as Navajo and Ancestral Puebloan ruins. Since this trail requires a permit, very few people are seen throughout the trail, making it feel isolated.

Appalachian Trail, Georgia - Maine: Miles

Miles can’t recommend thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail enough. He hiked the entirety of the trail from March 29th to September 20th in 2011. He loved being able to walk to New England from Georgia, while seeing really cool mountain tops and views from above treeline. The ability to see many parts of the wilderness in the U.S. is one of the main draws to the trail. If you can’t do the whole trail, he recommends backpacking the Maine section due to its remoteness and the beauty of the forests. Once finished, pop by Acadia National Park for more nature.

Death Canyon, Wyoming : Justine

For Justine, one of her favorite backpacking trips was down Death Canyon in Wyoming. She enjoyed the amazing views and scenery on the trail. Justine recommends it during the summer and loves that it wasn’t very crowded despite being in Grand Teton National Park. She did it as a short overnight with 12 miles roundtrip, but it can be doubled if you want to stay out longer. It is a great way to spend time in one of the more popular National Parks without the crowds.

Parry Peak and Mt Bancroft, Colorado : Caulen

There might be no official name to this trail, but Caulen recommends backpacking to Parry Peak and Mt. Bancroft in Colorado. He loves the difficulty, isolation, and the high altitude that the trail provides. This particular backpacking trail is awesome if you like to fish on your trips. He enjoys backpacking up to near the lake and spending a few days fishing for Brook Trout in it. He prefers to do the 13 miles as a two day backpacking trip, but you can certainly spend more time out there.

Salkantay, Peru : Danielle

Another one of Danielle’s favorites, this one can be done guided or unguided, but she recommends doing it unguided as it enabled you to interact with the locals more. It is typically done as a four night, five day trip and involves a very interesting ride at 3 am to get to the beginning. The trail itself starts out low in the rainforests of Peru, goes up through high mountain passes that reach over 15,000 feet, and finishes at the Incan site of Machu Picchu. She loved being able to see multiple ruins along the trail and meet many locals along the way. The stars were also incredible on this one, as long as you avoid the rainy season. She recommends definitely brushing up on your Spanish for this one.

Standing Stone Trail, Pennsylvania: Stephen

As one of Stephen’s favorite Pennsylvanian backpacking trails, the Standing Stone Trail couldn’t be more recommended as it sees very few people and has a lot of history. This mountainous trail, first known as the Link Trail, originally connected the PA Midstate Trail to the Tuscarora Trail in Virginia. It has some cool ridges and drops into towns that many people don’t know exist until on the trail. A good three night, four day trail, Stephen suggests doing it with the North East extension.

Still not sure on where you should plan your next backpacking trip? Stop in Vital Outdoors to get some great recommendations and gear.

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