It’s planning time for the summer hiking seasons! Backpacking and hiking guide books, your own interests, your fitness level, and the internet are resources you’ll you access as you plan your backing trips for the summer.
The great outdoors surrounding the Seattle area is well-loved and well-used during the summer and early fall. This is why seasoned backpackers plan now – to secure favorite campsites and permits for popular areas.
Many of the best trails in national parks and national forests require wilderness permits from May to November and early planners are the ones who secure those permits. However, even your local state park requires a Discover Pass for single day and multi-day use. Local, state, national, and wilderness pass and permitting requirements can seem complicated to the new outdoor enthusiast, yet after one season it will get easier.
There are many trail and hiking guides on the store shelves and online. The important thing to remember is that these guides, while quite authoritative, should be used as guides and not exact details. As you use guides more, you will begin to notice the small gaps that exist between the printed words and life outside on the trail. When this happens, be sure to note it in your book or personal trail journal for future reference.
Here are three recommended guides for planning your backpack trips: Day Hiking series, The Olympic Mountains Trail Guide, and Trekking Washington.
Day Hiking is a series of books covering all of Washington state. This is an excellent series for those who are new to getting outdoors and beginner backpackers. The Day Hiking books are shorter hikes that often run along longer hiking routes making them ideal one-night backpack trips for beginner backpackers. The guide estimates the difficulty, roundtrip miles, elevation gain, and season for each trip. This guide is a go-to resource for all levels of experience.
The Olympic Mountain Trail Guide is the guide for hiking in the Olympic Mountains. This guide includes the length of each hike, the access – how to get to the trailhead, which USGS map covers the route, and the agencies with jurisdiction. The Olympic Mountains are popular and access to premier trails during the busy season is nearly impossible on a whim. Planning is essential. This book has two additional sections to help you navigate the regulations of accessing and enjoying this spectacular place – the Agency Contact Information and Regulations section are a must read in this guide.
Trekking Washington is a go to resource for multi-day backpacking trips of 30 miles or more. The guide shows the difficulty from ‘easier’ to ‘toughest’, distance, elevation gain, best season, recommended itinerary – number of days and miles per day, water availability, logistics – known seasonal trail issues, drop off / pick up needs, which agencies manage the area for permitting needs, and maps – both in the book and which Green Trails and USGS. The other useful sections in this guide are gear and meal planning, and a contact list for the various agencies with jurisdiction along the backpacking routes.
Just writing about some of my favorite guides has rekindled my longing for the trail and hikes yet to come. How many hiking and backpacking trips will you take this year? Start planning now and you’ll be amazed how often you’ll find yourself on the trail this summer.
See you out there!