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Backpacker Magazine – November 2010

Best. Hikes. Ever.

We've covered 245,591 miles of trails in our 37-year history. Here are our 20 all-time favorite trips, plus—shocking!—20 routes we never covered.

by: Kelly Bastone and Dave Pidgeon

#1 The John Muir Trail offer views of Lyell Fork in Yosemite. (Greg Russell)
#1 The John Muir Trail offer views of Lyell Fork in Yosemite. (Greg Russell)


John Muir Trail, CA | Escalante Route, AZ | Teton Crest Trail, WY | Denali, AK | Presidential Traverse, NH | The Lost Coast Trail, CA | The Needles Traverse, CO | St. Mary to Lake McDonald, MT | Appalachian Trail, GA-ME | Zion Narrows, UT | Wonderland Trail, WA | Southern Traverse, AK | Four-Pass Loop, CO | The Long Trail, VT | Boundary Waters, MN | Wind Traverse, WY | Redwood Creek Trail, CA | Olympic Traverse, WA | Willow Gulch, UT | Northville-Placid Trail, NY |


Grand Island Loop, MI | Sandpiper Trail Loop, SC | Logging Lake Trail, MT | Balsam Cap and Friday Mtn., NY | Elk Trail, PA | Burr Oak State Park, OH | Turkey Trail, KS | Summit Lake Trail, CA | Prairie Trail, ND | Mt. Cabot Loop, NH | Chupadera Mountain Trail, NM | Falls Hollow Trail, VA | Bering Land Bridge National Preserve | Jenkins Mountain Trail, NY | Duffer Peak Trail, NV | Gospel Hump Loop Trail, ID | Ben Avery Trail, AZ | North Vista Trail, CO | Bucking Mule Falls Trail, WY | Sabino Canyon Trail, AZ

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star Star


Star Star
Apr 26, 2014

Ever been to North Carolina? Good lord. I've never seen a state so neglected in Backpacker.

Feb 13, 2014

Your site is AWFUL. Get it together, Backpacker!

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Also, your site belongs in 1994.

PS. SOLID article from November 2010. Has Backpacker written any new articles in the last year or are you just recycling old ones?

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jim from Pa
Jul 10, 2013

A couple of yrs ago my family and I flew out to Yosemite and my son and I climbed to the top of Half Dome. A couple of weeks ago my son and I hiked to the top of Mt Whitney and I only wish I could get the time off to see the middle. I absolutely totally agree with the JMT being number one. Probability top ten in the world.

Star Star Star Star Star
jim from Pa
Jul 10, 2013

A couple yrs ago the family visited Yosemite and my son and I made it to the top of Half Dome. A couple of weeks ago my son and I hiked to the top of Mt Whitney. Only wish I could get the time off to see the middle of the two. Totally agree with number one pick.

Star Star Star Star Star
jim from Pa
Jul 10, 2013

A couple yrs ago the family visited Yosemite and my son and I made it to the top of Half Dome. A couple of weeks ago my son and I hiked to the top of Mt Whitney. Only wish I could get the time off to see the middle of the two. Totally agree with number one pick.

Feb 20, 2013

Yeah, I dropped the Backpacker subscription. I even removed myself from their e-mail list. Still getting e-mail about irrelevant articles that don't cover places near me (Oregon) and gear that's ridiculously expensive.

Star Star Star Star Star
Feb 18, 2013

Canada, people, CANADA! Do you even know where it is, or that it exists? Ontario, NS, Quebec. I've spent amazing days backpacking across the border. Maybe what we need is a Backpacker/Canada Magazine.

Star Star Star Star Star
Richard R
Feb 14, 2013

All of these mentioned are worthy trails to take in. For those of us that have hiked in Hawaii, you might want to include the Kalalau trail in Kauai. Hiking through the rain forest and along the cliffs is the most scenic adventure that I have ever done. Not to mention the test of your virtego. this is a must do if you can get there!

Wildlife Biologist
Sep 21, 2012

It may be a blessing to not feature a certain trail of choice...keep it a "best kept secret" to avoid air, water, noise, and light pollution, among other potential spoilers. Best kept secrets could mean more solitude and wildlife viewing.

Jan 14, 2012

Backpacker has generally ignored WV for most of the time I have been reading it- 25 years. I have backpacked throughout the US and WV has several of the best hikes I've ever done. The Allegheny Trail is the most underrated long-distance trail in the nation, 300 miles long in WV. I've never seen it featured in Backpacker.

Jan 13, 2012

Bravo for the comments about WV. Also VA.......
I have let my memberships in clubs lapse. I've gone it alone. I can't find many anymore who walk for the pleasure of it, to meditate, for health, to just be part of the good ole earth again. Backpacking, like so many pursuits, is becoming elitist. I hope you continue not to cover the local great trails that the average working Joe can find solace; as was said above, that means another decade or two for me alone in my favorite wilderness.

Jan 12, 2012

Backpacker once did a review of a short section of trail along the Suwannee river, It was a 3 mile bike trail called bridge to bridge. What they didn't mention was along this same section of river over 50 miles of the florida national scenic trail overlooks the river. As one of the volunteer maintainers I was a little peeved they would come all the way to Florida and not write about one of the most scenic portions of the Florida trail.

Jan 12, 2012

Now I remember why I cancelled my subscription. You can't see anything beyond the USA borders. Get your writers/hikers some passports and let them find some other great trails. Wait! You actually don't need passports if you are entering by land- welcome to the great north!

John kuyler
Jan 12, 2012

I guess nobody ever hikes here in West Virginia??
Spruce knob? Otter creek? High falls of the shaver? Good to know that I will have them all to myself for another 30 years.

Paul Ahee
Feb 02, 2011

No Buckskin Gulch?

Jan 22, 2011

Great list of hikes! I would love to do the Maroon Bells loop but I'm a little concerned about huge numbers of people on the trail. Maybe during the week? There are more great Colorado hike descriptions here:

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