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Backpacker Magazine – January 2009

Readers' Choice Awards 2009

Discover the best hike in every state, as voted by BACKPACKER readers. Plus: your essential gear, most desirable tentmate, worst-ever adventure movie, and our picks for the best reader-submitted photos.

by: The Backpacker Readers

Snowmass Mountain, Colorado (David Muench)
Snowmass Mountain, Colorado (David Muench)
The descent to Hawaii's Kalalau Beach (Matt Hage)
The descent to Hawaii's Kalalau Beach (Matt Hage)
Mt. Thielsen (Donna Ikenberry)
Mt. Thielsen (Donna Ikenberry)
Big Creek in the Smokies (Jeff Zimmerman)
Big Creek in the Smokies (Jeff Zimmerman)
An alcove in Davis Gulch. (James Kay)
An alcove in Davis Gulch. (James Kay)


Your partner is hanging from a cliff with no way to go up or down. You'll both likely die if you don't cut the rope. You ...
Cut the Rope 50%
Don't Cut the Rope 50%

The strangest item in your pack is ...
Teddy bear
Superman cape
Pirate flag
United States Constitution*
*A random selection of the unusual stuff you carry

The most miles you've ever hiked in a single day ...
12% Less than 10
35% 15
28% 20
17% 25
8% More than 30

You'd rather hike in ...
The snow 36% (Read "How to Navigate in the Snow" for tips on winter navigation.)
The rain 29%
30-mph wind 17%
Stay in my tent, thanks 10%
100°F heat 8%

If you could have a job as a full-time hiker, your minimum salary requirement would be ...
Minimum wage 24%
$50,000 %50
$75,000 16%
$100,000 10%

In the wilderness, strangers once came upon you ...
#1) Using a cathole
#2) Skinny-dipping
#3) Having sex

At what age did you go on your first backpacking trip?
5 or younger 4%
6-10 15%
11-15 31%
16-20 19%
21 or older 30%
Never been on a backpacking trip 1%

Go to backpacker.com/backpacking101 for a guide to hiking basics.

The worst way to die in the backcountry is ...
Bear attack 19%
Swarmed by bees 15%
Drowning 15%
Dehydration 14%
Freezing 10%
Fall 7%
Avalanche 7%
Mountain lion attack 6%
Snake or spider bite 6%
Lightning strike 1%

Which creature would you least want to find in your tent?
Skunk 47%
Black widow 26%
Porcupine 15%
Scorpion 12%

Who would you most like to share a tent with?
Here are your top 4 picks:
1. John Muir
2. Kristin Hostetter
3. Edmund Hillary
4. Ernest Shackleton

You can take only one of the following on your next backpacking trip. Which do you choose?
Book 29%
Chocolate 27%
Camp chair 14%
Cocktail 11%
iPod 11%
I'll give up nothing 8%

The all-time best adventure book is ... A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson


The best state for backpackers to live in is... Colorado

1 in 4 readers say the best national park for backpackers is ...Yosemite



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David
Nov 26, 2012

The "Pacific Crest Trail" in this article is actually the John Muir Trail.....the PCT runs from Mexico to Canada, along the way it covers some of the same ground as the JMT. Wanted to clear that up. It is an amazing hike, it is in my top 3 backpack trips of all time!

David
Nov 26, 2012

The "Pacific Crest Trail" in this article is actually the John Muir Trail.....the PCT runs from Mexico to Canada, along the way it covers some of the same ground as the JMT. Wanted to clear that up. It is an amazing hike, it is in my top 3 backpack trips of all time!

mike
Nov 22, 2012

thank you Jaafar for actually naming a best hiking trail (not canoeing) for Florida.

Eric Nelson
Aug 03, 2011

Well, I would say that the Wind River range is the best hiking in WY, however, for those that just want a weekend hike try the hike up to Big Sandy then the next day head to the Cirque. If you want a flavor of the remoteness of WY without the big miles, then the Cirque is the place to go.

Eric Nelson
Aug 03, 2011

Well, I would say that the Wind River range is the best hiking in WY, however, for those that just want a weekend hike try the hike up to Big Sandy then the next day head to the Cirque. If you want a flavor of the remoteness of WY without the big miles, then the Cirque is the place to go.

Len
Aug 01, 2011

Best adventure book by Bill Bryson? Good lord. Has nobody ever read Edmund Hillary, Eric Newby, Shackleton, Roosevelt, Capstick, or any of the dozens of other classics? Bryson is funny, but best adventure? No way.

Patrick
Jul 25, 2011

"Best" hiking trail is highly subjective. My favorite is actually pictured on this page: Big Creek waterfall in the Smokies. Memorable--recognized the waterfall immediately.

Jaafar
Jul 25, 2011

Sorry, but why on earth is the "best hike in Florida" actually a canoe trip in the Gulf of Mexico?

It's not like there isn't plenty of trail in Florida: there's the Florida Trail snaking North-South through the state, plus a bunch of smaller side trails maintained by the Florida Trail Association running East West, in addition to the trails in Everglades National Park and various state parks, national forests and wildlife management areas.

To pick a canoe trip as Florida's best "hike" is to feed into the mistaken belief, so common among northerners who associate hiking with mountains, that because Florida is flat, it has no hiking trails worth mention.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I'd consider the Florida Trail segment from Loop Road to the Oasis Ranger Station on the Tamiami Trail/US-41 (about 8 miles each way) as a good contender for the "best trail," for instance.

A walk/slog (depending on the season) traveling through prairies of sawgrass and stunted bald cypress, and tropical hardwood hammocks that make you feel like you've stepped into the Amazon, it's idyllic, remote, and not at all comparable to hiking elsewhere in the 'States. I've come across alligators ON the trail, and hiked for miles in shin-deep water swimming with small fish and crayfish. Where else in the country can you do that?

There's also the Coastal Prairie Trail in Everglades National Park. The southernmost trail in the continental United States, it's about 7.5 miles each way, through shady buttonwoods and open mudflats and prairies of saltwort along the coast, ending at a backcountry campsite on an empty white-sand beach. Beautiful hiking, and unlike anything up north.

PaulG
Jul 23, 2011

Isle Royale, Minnesota??? Sorry Bonni, Backpacker's got it right. It may be closer to Minnesota, but it's still in Michigan.

PaulG
Jul 23, 2011

Isle Royale, Minnesota??? Sorry Bonni, Backpacker's got it right. It may be closer to Minnesota, but it's still in Michigan.

Bonni
Jul 22, 2011

Ummm, sorry backpacker, Isle Royale is actually part of Minnesota, not Michigan. You've gotten it right elsewhere on your site, I don't know what happened here...

JK
Jul 22, 2011

The Best Hike in NH....in my opinion.....is the Crawford Path to Mount Washington in the Southern Presidential. It is absolutely breathtaking!!!!

Bill
Jul 21, 2011

How about Michigan?

Emily
Jul 21, 2011

OK haters let me clue you in on a little secret...the word "BEST hike in..." is a better title stater than "a very good hike, maybe the best, but probably not, hike in..." So, when you see the word "BEST" keep in mind that it was one person's opinion. That person might have a very different idea of what constitutes a "best" hike. If you read the description, the author usually gives their argument for including the hike. Also, if they didn't print your favorite hike, count yourself as lucky, you will be able to enjoy that spot without all the Backpacker readers in the state racing up and down the trail complaining that your trail in not nearly as good as some other trail.

Ed 'n Lauky
Jul 21, 2011

As for your New Hampshire choice, while Tuckerman
Ravine is interesting to see, there are trails up Washington with much better overall views and with far fewer people.

However, if you really like hiking in Times Square type crowds, then The Tucks trail is definitely what you want.

Bob Hansen/Pathfinder1
Jul 21, 2011

Am I the only one who gets a "no longer exists" when I click on your site to enter the contest for gear you are giving away?

Jonathan Althaus
Jul 21, 2011

Oklahoma-Wichita Mountains
New Mexico-3 Rivers
Texas-Davy Crocket Nat'l Forest

Scott Sanders
Mar 26, 2009

Panther Creek in Georgia is nice, but try Jacks River Trail, Conasauga River Trail, the 80 or so miles of the AT in Georgia. I'll think you'll like them more.

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