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25 Badass Backpacking Trips

Not for the faint of heart

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

There's something about camping in the wilderness that makes us feel tough. We spend a night or two away from our everyday comforts, disconnecting from the modern, technology dependent lives we lead and we reconnect with the rugged explorer inside us. It feels good to know you don't need all that stuff, right? It makes you feel a little more wild. Throw in 20+ miles of hiking before your next night under the stars and you’ll feel like a straight-up badass. 

There are hundreds of treks across the world that will give you that I-can-do-anything feeling - plus bragging rights for the next time you're swapping adventure stories around the campfire. Save yourself some time researching (use that time to train instead, you're gonna need it!) and check out these badass backpacking trips:

1. Backpack from Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney

Location: California | Distance: 47.5 miles

Photo: Jeff Driscoll

This is truly a once in a lifetime backpacking trip. Take in the majesty of the High Sierra from the highest summit in the continental United States. Learn more.

2. Hike the Wild Basin’s Ouzel and Ogallala Peak

Location: Colorado | Distance: 20 miles

Hike through isolated, rugged wilderness to panoramic views of Colorado’s Wild Basin, Paradise Park, and Indian Peaks Wilderness. Learn more.

3. Trek in the Swiss Alps

Location: Switzerland | Distance: 68 miles

Explore this iconic landscape full of snowcapped peaks, beautiful alpine lakes, and waterfalls. Hike along the infamous North Face of the Eiger, Jungfra, Monch, and Wetterhorn. Learn more.

4. Backpack Kings Peak

Location: Utah | Distance: 28.8 miles

Summit Utah’s tallest mountain at 13,527 ft. and catch sprawling views of every 13er in the state. Learn more.

5. Backpack the Continental Divide trail in Glacier NP

Location: Montana | Distance: 33.4 miles

Find solitude in Glacier’s backcountry as you explore pristine lakes, gorgeous glaciers, cascading water falls, and impressive mountain peaks. Learn more.

6. Overnight at the Barker Hut

Location: New Zealand | Distance: 29.8 miles

Photo: Crystal Brindle

New Zealand is home to over 1,000 alpine huts and the Barker Hut is known as one of the very best. As you climb, you’ll be treated to epic views of the peaks, glaciers, and lakes below. Learn more.

7. Backpack the Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton NP

Location: Wyoming | Distance: 38 miles

This incredible trail will take you through canyons, over passes, and around breathtaking mountain scenery. You’ll have amazing views of these famous mountains the entire trip. Learn more.

8. Backpack through Nantahala National Forest vie the Appalachian Trail

Location: North Carolina | Distance: 28 miles

Here’s you chance to tackle a spectacular section of one of the most famous thru hikes in the country, the Appalachian Trail. Learn more.

9. Backpack Desolation’s Primitive Western Edge Through Rockbound Pass

Location: California | Distance: 26 miles

This area of Desloation Wilderness really lives up to its name. Not many hikers venture past the Rockbound Pass so you’ll find total solitude. Learn more.

10. Backpack the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim

Location: Arizona | Distance: 47 miles

With over 10,000 ft. of elevation gain, this has to be one of the more brutal hikes you’ll ever do, but catching sunrise over the Grand Canyon will be worth it. Learn more.

11. Backpack the Full John Muir Trail

Location: California | Distance: 221 miles

If you can find the time to dedicate to the JMT, you’re in for one of the greatest challenges and some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll ever witness. Learn more.

12. Backpack to Spade and Venus Lakes

Location: Washington | Distance: 28 miles

Photo: Jason Zabriskie

Explore two of the most remote lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. If you're looking for solitude, you'll find it here. Learn more.

13. Backpack the Lost Coast: Matthole to Black Sands Beach

Location: California | Distance: 24 miles

Spend a few days camping and hiking along the rugged and rocky coast of Northern California. Learn more.

14. Climb Cone Peak in Big Sur (Sea to Sky Route)

Location: California | Distance: 23 miles

Although the summit only reaches 5,155 ft., because it’s only 3 miles from the ocean, the stark rise in altitude provides unbeatable views of the Big Sur area. Learn more.

15. Backpack the Zion National Park Traverse

Location: Utah | Distance: 48.3 miles

Explore the entire width of Zion National Park from narrow canyons, to lush valleys rimmed by red rock, to phenomenal vistas overlooking the best of the park. Learn more.

16. Backpack to Havasu Falls and the Colorado

Location: Arizona | Distance: 20-36 miles

Havasupai’s refreshing pools and misty waterfalls are the ultimate reward for your long hike through the desert. Learn more.

17. Backpack Torres del Paine’s “O” Circuit

Location: Chile | Distance: 70 miles

Photo: Ian Glass

Take on one of the most iconic backpacking trips in the world and meet people from all over the globe along the way. Learn more.

18. Backpack the Pacific Crest Trail’s Section J: Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie

Location: Washington | Distance: 70 miles

If you really want to be a badass, do the whole PCT. For those of us who don’t have that much time to dedicated to a trek, this section is a good challenge and can be done in five days. Learn more.

19. Backpack around Broken Top

Location: Oregon | Distance: 22.6 miles

Spend a few days hiking through the heart of the Central Oregon Cascades and Three Sisters Wilderness. On clear days, you’ll have views as far as Mount Adams in Southern Washington. Learn more.

20. Backpack the Beartooths via the West Rosebud Trail

Location: Montana | Distance: 21 miles

Bring your fishing gear to stop at one of the five lakes full of trout. If you’re up for it, prepare to hike to the highest point in Montana, also regarded as the hardest summit, Granite Peak (12,808 ft.). Learn more.

21. Hike to McKittrick Ridge Campground

Location: Texas | Distance: 20 miles

Photo: Andrew Miller

This hike is completely off the grid and leads you through one of the most diverse ecosystems in Texas. Learn more.

22. Backpack Spider Gap to Buck Creek Pass

Location: Washington | Distance: 41 miles

This trip is no easy task, but the effort you put in will result in astounding views of the alpine landscape and amazing wildlife. Learn more.

23. Backpack Scotland’s West Highland Way

Location: Scotland | Distance: 96 miles

Scotland may not be the first place you think of when it comes to epic backpacking trips, but the views on this famous hike will make you think again. Learn more.

24. Hut-to-Hut across Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains

Location: Alaska | Distance: 31 miles

Does five days traversing glaciers, climbing through rocky passes, and sleeping in alpine huts sounds like your kind of good time? Load up your pack and head to Alaska. Learn more.

25. Backpack the Rae Lakes Loop

Location: California | Distance: 46 miles

Let the Giant Sequoias and beautiful views of the Sierras distract you from the burn your legs will feel after four days of 10+ miles of hiking. It’ll all be worth it, we promise. Learn more.

Remember to always pack out what you packed in.

Cover photo: Jason Zabriskie

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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