Golden Larches – Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA | Wahtum Lake, OR | Lost River Range, ID | South Spur, Mt. Adams, WA | Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainier NP, WA | North Cascades NP, WA
Something about this 93-mile circuit inspires evangelism: Our panel unanimously agreed that there’s no other trip, trail, or peak that any backpacker should rank higher on his life list. You’ll see the Lower 48’s most massive glaciers while strolling through one alpine wildflower garden after another, and explore verdant rainforests of giant old-growth cedar and fir.
You’ll also mingle with mountain goats, marmots, and black bears. The inside scoop: Camp at Klapatche Park, Mystic Lake, and Summerland. Plan extra time to explore Indian Henrys Hunting Ground and St. Andrews Park. Detour across Spray Park, especially from mid-July to early August, says Campbell, for the planet’s finest wildflower show, “with bull’s-eye views of Mt. Rainier.” Apply for a backcountry permit the day the park begins accepting them, on March 15.
Driving Park at Mowich Lake, reached via WA 165 south of Wilkeson, and walk clockwise to begin in Spray Park and conclude with the WT’s most remote stretch.
Maps Trails Illustrated Mt. Rainier National Park ($12, natgeomaps.com)
Contact (360) 569-2211; nps.gov/mora