Five Epic Scrambles for Summer Peakbagging

Climb through scree, alpine meadows, and boulder fields on these off-trail summit adventures.

Photo: "Longs Peak from Chasm Lake ~ Rocky Mountain National Park" by Dusty J is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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From epic summit scrambles to bucket-list hikes to local gems, there’s a whole world of adventures out there for you to have—and we’re here to help you do it. Outside+ members get access to the full text of all of Backpacker’s curated hike reports—including the five on this list—including directions, campsite and permit information, interactive maps, and more. They also get access to our complete archive, from epic trail stories to skills tutorials to full-length expert gear reviews. Not a member? There’s never been a better time to sign up.

It’s summer and the peaks are calling—and some of them are calling you off-trail. Even class 1 and 2 scrambling skills can open a whole new horizon of summits for peakbagging hikers. Brush up on your off-trail skills, lace up your boots, and start your summer scrambling adventures with these five peaks.

Lady Mountain, Zion National Park, UT

Photo: KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

With serious exposure and several sections that reach 5.6 difficulty, Lady Mountain isn’t a beginner scramble, but once you’ve got the skills nailed down, it’s well worth it. The 4 mile out-and-back gains 2,700 feet of elevation on the way to one of Zion’s skyscraping sandstone towers. Read More

Elk Mountain, Wichita Mountains Wilderness, OK

Photo: “Elk Mountain – Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma” by Thomas Shahan 3 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

An easy scree traverse brings you to the 2,270-foot summit of Elk Mountain, one of the tallest peaks in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains, near the halfway point of this 3-mile loop. Instead of descending the same way, scramble a boulder-filled gully to the Rock Rooms, a series of caves beneath piled boulders that lead hikers out to the return leg of the Charon’s Garden trail. Read More

Skylight Mountain, Mohonk Preserve, NY

Photo: “File:Shawangunk Ridge as seen from a Mohonk Preserve hiking trail.jpg” by Grendelkhan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Soak in views of the Hudson Valley on this 9-mile out-and-back to the top of Skylight via the Labyrinth, a veritable playground of 430-million-year-old conglomerate slabs bridged by fixed ladders. Early mornings or weekdays are best for solitary scrambling. Read more

Kings Peak, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, UT

Photo: “kings peak // the little red house” by the little red house is licensed under CC BY 2.0

At 13,528 feet, Kings Peak is the tallest mountain in Utah. Get your state high point bragging rights on a 26.2-mile weekend epic. Pitch base camp at Dollar Lake, nestled below the spires of the High Uintas, then start early the next morning for the 5.6-mile round-trip scramble to the summit. Read More

Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Photo: “Longs Peak from Chasm Lake ~ Rocky Mountain National Park” by Dusty J is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Climb 6,300 feet to the top of the Rockies on the lesser-known Clark’s Arrow Loop up Longs Peak. The 13-mile round-trip trek only meets up with the crowded Keyhole Route just before the summit, leaving you with plenty of early-morning solitude to spend admiring the 14,259-foot peak. Read More

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