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Hiking is a great recreational activity, but backpacking is even better for those who want to spend more time outdoors. If you’re wondering what it’s like to spend the night under the stars along a trail, check out these beginner backpacking trails everyone should try. They’re easy to find and navigate, no matter how long you plan to spend on your trip.
1. Step Falls Trail: Newry, Maine
Locals like to call Step Falls Trail the hidden gem of Newry. It’s worth checking out if you’re interested in backpacking in Maine because it’s only one mile long and offers gorgeous views. Spend the day walking along Wight Brook while pausing to swim with your supplies whenever you want to cool off. An overnight stay off the trail will provide a quiet getaway during your next free weekend.
2. Sam Knob Trail: Asheville, North Carolina
Spend some time along the Blue Ridge Parkway with an overnight trip to Sam Knob Trail. Hikers take pictures of the wildflowers, snack on the wild blackberries and enjoy the cool air along the two-and-a-half-mile trail. You could camp in one of the many fields and brew coffee in the morning before pushing on to reach the mountaintop trailhead.
3. Four Pass Loop: Snowmass Village, Colorado
Anyone with little backpacking experience can explore the Four Pass Loop over a three to five-day trip. The trail has 28 miles of scenic views, mountain peaks and rivers for splashing during hot afternoons. You can even let your dog go off-leash to lower your blood pressure by spending more time with your pup while you both get some exercise. Just pack an extra food container and some bowls so your dog has everything they need.
4. Golden Cathedral Trail: Escalante, Utah
People love the Golden Cathedral Trail because it’s a backpacking gold mine for anyone passionate about geologic displays. You’ll hike past rock features and natural arches while exploring caves under the Golden Cathedral.
Campers should note that all tents must stay along the Escalante river because camping would hurt the fragile rock platforms at the trail’s namesake site. You can venture out on short hikes with supplies like emergency care kits and a compass to see the land before heading back to base camp in the evenings.
5. Solstice Stones Trail: Andover, Massachusetts
When you’re missing the site of a tree-lined horizon and deep blue shades cast over the distant land, it’s time to backpack along the Solstice Stones Trail in Massachusetts. It loops past an orchard to the summit of Holt Hill, so expect to walk uphill for at least a half hour. As a reward, you’ll reach the solstice stones built by Mabel Ward in 1911 to mark the spot where locals watched British soldiers burn Charlestown in 1775. It’s perfect for anyone who loves history as much as backpacking.
6. Green Lakes Trail: Sunriver, Oregon
Families backpack along the Green Lakes Trail in Oregon because the 11-mile adventure is easy enough for kids to conquer. There isn’t a steep grade at any point, making it easy to pick a camping spot with views of the surrounding mountains or lakes. Just be aware the state requires a permit to camp overnight, so you’ll need to secure one before starting your backpacking trip.
Try Beginner Backpacking Trails This Year
Anyone can spend time on these beginner backpacking trails to test their skills and become a time-tested explorer. Bring your dog, some overnight supplies and plenty of water to get the most out of whichever trail you choose for your next adventure.