Third Beach to Hoh River Trail
Of the thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean shoreline, the 17 along this stretch of Olympic National Park best combine spectacular wilderness coastline with accessibility for backpackers. But don’t let the low mileage fool you. If you’re like most visitors, you’ll need at least 3 days to experience this much beach hiking, tide-critical rock scrambling, and rugged crossings of forested headlands. Allow extra time to savor giant sea stacks as they’re silhouetted by sublime ocean sunsets.
Contact: Olympic National Park Wilderness Information Center, (360) 565-3100; www.nps.gov/olym
This 93-mile trail around Mt. Rainier is the ultimate American circumambulation. In a week or 2 of hiking (for the whole loop) or a few days for segments, you’ll travel above and below timberline and across uncounted streams (mostly bridged) on the flanks of the Lower 48′s most heavily glaciated and fifth-highest peak (14,411 feet).
Contact: Mt. Rainier National Park, (360) 569-2211; www.nps.gov/mora.
Copper Ridge Trail
There’s no end to spectacular hikes in North Cascades National Park, but it’s hard to top Copper Ridge without tying into a rope. For a 35-mile loop, plunge down to the Chilliwack River, then add a big side trip to Whatcom Pass for even more views of glaciers and endless rocky peaks.
Contact: North Cascades National Park, (360) 856-5700; www.nps.gov/noca.