looking for suggestions on a 7 day backcountry hike

10:07 p.m. on June 8, 2013 (EDT)
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hey i'm new to Trailspace. very cool.

i'm turning 50 in a couple years and am planning to give myself a "present" of a challenging 7 day trek somewhere out west. i'm an experienced backpacker and have wilderness survival training. not to come across cocky but hoping to find a trip that's not just a stroll down a worn path campsite to campsite. was thinking maybe glacier in Montana but that's just because i've always wanted to visit that park. i'm ok with bear country. my experience is mostly back east so i"d love to learn more about all the options out west.

would love some thoughts. thanks!!!!!

11:19 p.m. on June 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Welcome Thor,

I think we must be about the same age, I will be 48 in September.

I can't offer any advise about out west since my experience is limited to the southeast US, but I wanted to welcome you anyhow.

I don't like simple campsite to campsite trails either, at least not from the standpoint of challenging myself. I do those trails a lot of the time because I love being outdoors or being with friends, but I really love to go solo off trail.

I think there are a good number of other Trailspace members who feel similarly and / or can also offer you some good advise about places west.

Mike G.

7:25 a.m. on June 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Just do the john muir trail, and you'll not regret it.  my wife and I hike lastyear.  she's 57 and I'm 64, and its a spectacular piece of cake, and should be on any ones must do list!  The weather is almost guaranteed spectacular, every corner, vista, horizon is sensational and breathtaking.  no regrets!

7:30 a.m. on June 9, 2013 (EDT)
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my bad....one more!  Wind River range out of Pindedale wy  Hiked it 40+ years ago, and still marvel at the memories of the sheer magnifigance.   You could also consider trips in the Rocky Mtn area of Colorado.  

12:43 p.m. on June 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Come on out West.  Stay away from the National Parks.  Try some large wilderness areas.  You can have all the adventure you want.  You can camp where no white man has camped before. After a couple of days you can hike where there are no trails at all.

2:57 p.m. on June 9, 2013 (EDT)
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well, there's always the desert.

3:45 p.m. on June 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Like olemike said, the JMT is a very fitting trip to celebrate turning 50.  I did the same thing myself (though a year late due to work commitments).  However only trail runners can do it in 7 days ...  Most people seem to do it in 2-3 weeks (I took 30 days and at times felt rushed).

10:40 p.m. on June 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Thor, Welcome to Trailspace. Although I think ppine is right that you can find some parks overcrowded, there are some places in the west that receive few visitors. One great hike, involving bushwhacking and good cross country skill and some glacier travel, is the Bailey Range Traverse in the Olympic National Park. You will hike everything from lowland rain forest, to rocky alpine meadows. The scenery is spectacular. Another great area is the North Cascades National Park, the least visited national park in the lower 48. There are a couple of point to point trips there I could direct you to if you were interested.

10:46 p.m. on June 9, 2013 (EDT)
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If you are interested in Sequoia/Kings Canyon, I have been all over both parks and could possibly suggest something there.  It's a very large area with great scenery, and you can get anything from crowded trails to off trail basins with no one else.

Give us more info regarding your experience, how many miles you like to do each day, and whether you want to stay on trails or if you are comfortable going off trail (and, if so, what your comfort level is for class 2/class 3 passes).

5:41 a.m. on June 10, 2013 (EDT)
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as for the JMT....the number of people who are actually hiking is controlled by the Park service by limiting passes.  On a midweek trip, you aren't likely to see  but a dozen people per day...You can always only hike a section of the trail depending on how many days that you have. I'd suggest you hike from Yosemite to Red's meadow at Mammoth Mtn exit.  that's a leisurely 3 night/4 day hike.

12:40 a.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I think it would be pretty darn hard ( not to mention somwhat pointless) to try to do the 200+ mile John Muir Trail in a single week.  But there are certainly some great hikes in the Sierra that woud meet your criteria.  You could certainly do PART of the JMT, although it does get a lot of traffic. 


But a week in Emigrant Wilderness might have you meet only a dozen people (we've gone four days without seeing anyone!) and there are sections of Yosemite, John Muir Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, and KIngs Canyon that are all spectacular...and very uncrowded.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

In Yosemite, Mono Meadows to Lower Ottoway Lake, then over Red Peak Pass, and up to Isberg/Post Peak Pass.  Lovely area, very few people on the trail.

Ansel Adams:  courtwright Reservoir up to Red Mountain Basin, explore that area, over Hell for Sure Pass, and then back again.

Kings Canyon: Marvin Meadows to Sugarloaf Valley, then Roaring River camp up to Cloud and Deadman Canyon...




2:59 p.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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perhaps s peacock could chime in here...

6:25 p.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Why would someone come all the way from the East to celebrate a big deal birthday with a major trip and chose a place with a permit system and people all over the place?

I like Erich's ideas except for the weather on the Olympic Pen and N Cascades.

9:36 p.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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well.....people from the east go west to find places like the sierras because they don't have places like that in the east.  the Olympic Pen and North Cascade, (excepting for the relief and exposure) is very much what you find in the east.  why not go to the sierras. I've made three memorial trips to the west, and the most remarkable was in Yosemite, Kings Canyon, wind rivers and isolated western terrain and topography unlike what you find in the Appalachian ranges.

If you want less crowds go during the mid=week! and go away from the concentrated places......

10:50 p.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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How 'bout the Bob Marshall in Montana?




8:39 a.m. on June 12, 2013 (EDT)
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Olemike said, " the Olympic Pen and North Cascade, (excepting for the relief and exposure) is very much what you find in the east." Huh? There is a lot more to both than just relief and exposure.  How many glaciers, active volcanos or temperate rainforests exist in the east? The birthday boy can choose a number of places in the west and the Sierras are certainly beautiful. The Bailey Range Traverse is spectacular and covers ground from sea level to the glaciated flanks of Mt. Olympus. A number of flora and fauna exist only there and nowhere else on the planet. The North Cascades is alpine, also glaciated, and it is also possible to hike from rainforest near sea level, to alpine meadows and not see another person for days, if not weeks. Go in the fall when the larches have turned bright yellow, and you avoid the poor weather that ppine mentions, but I've rarely encountered in either.

10:57 a.m. on June 12, 2013 (EDT)
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You need to get out more.  The Olympics are closer to Baja Alaska than anything else in the lower 48.


Stop giving away the good places. Send them to Yosemite or the JMT.

4:29 p.m. on June 12, 2013 (EDT)
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At the risk of getting ppine darkening my door, the Sierra east side (along US-395 access from LAX or Reno) has several gateway entries into a very large and complex trail system.  As ppine says, it is a long way to go to meet a few people you wouldn't otherwise.  And Yosemite is nice this time of year.  Besides the trip outlined below spends a good part of it on the JMT.

Most of the trails I suggest have been well known in even the remotest parts of Mongolia ever since 100 Trails of the South Sierra's first edition. And even more so with Tom Harrison Maps (.com) being published.  I'm just sayin'. :)

A challenging trip (late July or so) is an almost loop from Onion Valley (west of Independence, CA US-395) over Kearsage Pass, to Vidette Meadows (to pick up the JMT). Then south over Forester Pass (13,200') and explore the High Sierra in the upper Kern River drainage (especially the west side) for a day or so looking down and west and north from Harrison Pass. Also a photo op looking east and south.  It is unlikely you will meet anybody along the western side of the Kern Basin.  You just have to like high altitude 'stuff'.


While on the Plateau you could check out Wright Lakes to the southeast or even Tulainyo Lake (just N of Whitney) at the end of the Wallace Lake drainage.  It is a rare type of lake and one of the highest of its type.  ppine shouldn't worry to much about these secret places.  I'm sure not more than a dozen people a year go up the Wright or Wallace drainage even when give the opportunity.  Nobody seems interested in side jaunts that close to the end of the JMT.

Exit over Shepherd Pass (photo op looking west for a panorama), perhaps picking up Mt Williamson (area restriction has been lifted) or Mt Tyndall en route and before a BIG down hill to Symmes Creek and 3 miles of dirt road walking in 100F+ heat to catch a hitch up the road back up to your car.

I like this trip clockwise starting at Symmes Creek parking lot (leaving really REALLY early in morn - you are exposed to the sun and low altitude for many hours) and then later catching a ride down the hill to the dirt road back to your car. I like this way because of the slow strip tease of Tyndall and Williamson and the north side of Forester. Best option, this way though, is to leave your car at Onion Valley and take the ride down hill to start your trip.  That way you have an immediate ride home when dirty, tired and hungry and early on you smell better catching a ride in a stranger's car.

This is a heavy duty, strenuous trip clockwise.  But is a challenge either way you plan it.  7 days will probably do ya. 

If you are confident and competent in off trail discovery of some magnificent lakes in a wilderness environment, then ppine has the right idea. A day (or so) in on a trail gives you unlimited opportunities.  But there is something to be said about being on trails for the first time in a new area.  You have lots of time to return here (or follow the back bone up thru the Cascades) at your next celebratory outing. 

1:01 a.m. on June 13, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine, Sorry I can't help by wax poetic about the places I know and love. I didn't mention that other place! While the west side of the Olympics is wetter, the east side has areas in the rain shadow. On a climb into Royal Basin to climb Mts. Clark and Johnson, we hiked through a Rhododendron forest in full bloom.

12:23 p.m. on June 13, 2013 (EDT)
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erich, the words "east side" to me are like music in WA.  The east side of the Oympics would be spectacular.  Most people don't realize that the Press Expedition did not take place until around 1904 or was it 1906?

12:31 p.m. on June 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Hey ppine: Why challenge what the people are suggesting? Everyone has experiences and would like to share them. The OP can decide from that whether it is worth his while to choose one option over another but in the spirit of congeniality, this is not a contest to see who's suggestion he chooses.


Welcome, Thor! This is a wonderful site full of wonderful and some quite experienced peeps who just enjoy enjoying the out of doors and the gear that goes with it!

3:36 p.m. on June 13, 2013 (EDT)
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well said, giftofgab!

9:49 a.m. on June 14, 2013 (EDT)
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ppine, the Press Expedition was in 1889-1890. The geology and biology of the Olympics are quite unique. And now the two dams that were removed on the Elwah are the largest dam removals in the US.

8:16 p.m. on June 16, 2013 (EDT)
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thanks everyone for your replies. after reading and considering them all i'm looking at national forests in montana. perhaps the kootenai or the flathead. will post a separate inquiry on them specifically.

10:57 a.m. on June 17, 2013 (EDT)
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Congratulations on your wise new plan.

7:48 p.m. on July 5, 2013 (EDT)
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No one has mentioned Washington's PCT segments. With 500ish miles available on the PCT alone hikers have lots of options there, not to mention the thousands of miles of other hikes in Washington State. And don't forget Rainier's Wonderland trail. It is spectacular any way it is sliced!

3:37 p.m. on July 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Thor,  I was born and raised in MT and have hiked/camped all over the state.  

I love the areas of solitude but nothing beats Glacier Natl. Park in my opinion.  I also love the Bob Marshall Wilderness but you are guaranteed to have an encounter with a griz if you spend a week there.  There is a very dense griz population there.    It is absolutely beautiful though and it is so rugged not many people go in there.  I personally wouldn't shy away from Glacier just because others have mentioned it is too touristy.  If you get a backcountry permit you will have plenty of solitude.  Heck, if you did day hikes and started on the trails at 5 AM you will also get solitude for most of the day.  

A couple other MT suggestions from me would be the Bitteroot Mtn. Range around Missoula MT and the Absorka Mtn. Range around Bozeman MT.  


Good luck and enjoy your trip wherever you decide to go!

3:53 p.m. on July 10, 2013 (EDT)
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Glacier Natl. Park.  I started at the trailhead at the summit visitors center at 5AM and only saw 1 other hiker in 10 miles while going back to Granite Park Chalet.  God's country!!  


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