Solo Backpacking Tips + Trips for Beginners

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For the uninitiated, backpacking is the process of hiking long distances over the course of multiple days or weeks. Think hiking the Appalachian Trail (2,194 miles) or the Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles). It usually involves carrying everything you need to survive on your back, including food, water, shelter, and medical supplies.

Solo backpacking is gaining in popularity, with many new backpackers dipping a toe. Before doing a very challenging, or multi-week trail, it’s best to get some hands-on learning experience first. Before poking through your local national park, take some time to peruse specific, beginner-friendly trails that will build your confidence over time.

How To Plan a Solo Backpacking Trip

There’s never any reason to backpack outside your comfort zone. Safety must always come first, and if you’re not comfortable with a trip that’s more than a day long, don’t do it!

Before you hit the trail, let’s go over some basic safety:

  1. Tell people where you’re going. 

  2. Give a date and time cutoff. Tell an ‘accountability partner’ to report a missing hiker if they don’t hear from you by a certain day.

  3. Know when to bail.. Bad weather ahead? Not feeling well? Just plain tired? Pack it up!

And if you don’t have any camping or hiking experience at all? Start with the basics. At the end of the day, your safety is way more important than making a point. Once you get comfortable with all the other elements, you can graduate into new comfort levels. 

The Best Solo Backpacking Trails for Beginners 

Now comes the fun stuff! Let’s explore each of these hiking and backpacking trails from all over the US.

The Lost Lake Trail

Get lost (in the rhetorical sense) along Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The entire Lost Lake Trail is 13.8 miles out and back, which is an easy 6.5 miles both ways. One night is all you need!

You’ll run into all sorts of folks along the way, including bird-watchers, tourists, and other backpackers. Most of them will be camped near the actual Lost Lake, although you could choose to set up wherever you please.

Pro-tip: There may be bears around. Be sure to learn basic bear safety before going on this trail.

The Springer Mountain to Three Forks Trail

There’s a whole lot to love about Georgia’s Springer Mountain, including the 8.6 mile Three Forks Trail, which can be explored in one night.

Plus, there’s a shelter for stopping and rest. Going downhill will take half the time. 

Pro-tip: This is the only dog-friendly trail on the list, so feel free to bring your furry friend!

Mount LeConte Trail

At just 11 miles, the Mount LeConte Trail is one of the shorter backpacking trails on the list. The catch? There’s a lot more elevation involved. But even if you go slow, it only takes two days (one night) to complete the whole thing.

This is a very popular area for backpacking in Tennessee, and offers a gift shop and dining area. 

Pro-tip: Worried about the elevation gain? Consider taking the 6.7 Trillium Gap Trail instead.

Teton Crest Trail

Located in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, this trail winds 31 miles over relatively moderate terrain, and only has steep inclines and descents near the end of the journey. Expect to spend about three days hiking.

Teton Crest is not only stunningly beautiful and extremely popular. You’ll likely find dozens of other backpackers along the way, which adds to your security. 

Pro-tip: You’ll need to apply for a backcountry permit before hitting the trail.

Timberline Trail

Experience Oregon’s Mount Hood from a 40-mile loop trail at the bottom of the mountain. The Timberline Trail is incredibly beautiful and extremely well maintained, and only takes three or four days to complete.

The Timberline Trail’s convenient location allows you to access cell service if and when needed. Nearby Timberline Lodge provides hot meals, running water, and other creature comforts.

Pro-tip: Don’t forget to grab a permit issued at the trailhead before starting your journey. 

Not Ready To Try Solo Backpacking?

If you’re still worried about making a trek on your own, or if you’re more inclined to hike with friends for now, go for it!

In the meantime, spend some time learning about the solo backpacking experience.

Tags: Adventure, Outdoor Adventures, Self Care, Travel

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Written By

Meagan Shelley

Meagan is a professional writer in VA who specializes in content marketing. See Full Bio

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