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The Best Berry Picking Hikes in America | Backpacker Magazine - Backpacker

The Best Berry Picking Hikes in America

Savor summer’s bounty on these four treks to berry havens.
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Best Hikes for Berry Picking

Berry picking the LNT way: Leave behind at least two-thirds of the seed crop.

Pitcher Mountain Trail

Andorra Forest, NH

Our best tip for the Pitcher Mountain Trail? Don’t skimp on container size. Shoulder-high blueberry bushes line the trail up 2,153-foot Pitcher Mountain, and come late July, they’re sagging with ripe fruit. New Hampshire’s cold winters and rocky, acidic soil make for the massive bushes along the Blue Trail, which wends .2 mile through the berry maze to a summit firetower. There, indulge in your harvest and a panorama that includes Mt. Monadnock to the south, Vermont’s Green Mountains to the west, and, on clear days, the White Mountains to the north. After, continue 2.3 miles north to Hubbard Hill, another blueberry hot spot, to replenish before turning around for a 5-mile out-and-back. Note: The trail crosses private property; leave a few bucks in the donation box if you pick berries.

Sunrise Peak Trail

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, WA

In late summer, make like a bear and hit the berry-packed Dark Divide, an 89-mile roadless expanse between Mts. St. Helens and Adams. From mid-August to mid-September, the above-treeline meadows between the volcanoes explode with dark-indigo huckleberries, which thrive in the direct sunlight and relatively moderate elevation. Wander through the berry-filled fields in the first mile of the Sunrise Peak Trail; pocket a few handfuls along the way to enjoy on 5,892-foot Sunrise Peak at mile 1.5, where you’ll spy the Cascades’ biggest celebrities, including Mts. Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, and Hood. Turn around for an out-and-back or keep following the ridgeline north to bag Juniper Peak, 3 miles away.

Blind Ash Bay Trail

Voyageurs National Park, MN

Thank ancient glaciers for the old rocks and the young berries along this 2.5-mile lollipop-loop. For 2 million years, the moving ice sheets wore away Earth’s top layers to expose 2.5-billion-year-old formations, some of the oldest exposed rock in the world. The tasty result? Low-bush blueberries, which flourish in the acidic, sandy soil the glaciers left behind. In July, find ripe ones by the handful in the rocky pine forest along Blind Ash Bay. From the Kabetogama Lake Overlook, pick up the trail and hike west to where the red, white, and jack pine forest opens to reveal views of the bay beyond berry-laden branches. Scan for otters in the water before looping back. 

Trials Road Trail

Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area, WV

Diversify your diet on the Trials Road Trail, where precipitation and sunshine conspire to make a uniquely lush-but-sparse hardwood forest that bursts with mosses, ferns, and four kinds of berries. The 3-mile path weaves northeast past thickets of blue-, black-, service-, and cranberries (the first three go off in midsummer, while the latter ripen in fall). Head out from the trailhead on Camp 70 Road, scanning for plump fruit in sunny areas. Turn around at the four-way intersection for a 6-mile out-and-back (or link up with the Ken’s Connector to make a shorter loop).

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