Category Archives: Backpacking

Stories and images from the best backpacking trips in America and around the world, with trip-planning advice based on my personal, on-the-ground knowledge from having done the trip.

October 17, 2016 View from the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Photo Gallery: Fall Hiking and Backpacking in the North Carolina Mountains

In Backpacking, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

In a light mist drizzling from the fog embracing the mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina, I followed a well-worn trail downhill through a mixed deciduous forest just beginning to show its fall colors. A mile and a half down that path, I stood on rocks in the stream below Crabtree Falls, which plunges a nearly vertical 70 feet over numerous, shallow ledges. The photogenic waterfall seemed an auspicious start to a week of exploring one of America’s hiking meccas, the mountains of western North Carolina.

My trip culminated in backpacking a 34.3-mile loop in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the lead photo, above, was taken along the Appalachian Trail in the park). In between, I dayhiked the rigorous, 12-mile Black Mountain Crest Trail, over 13 named 6,000-footers, to the summit of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell; hiked to numerous beautiful waterfalls from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Gorges State Park and the tallest in the East, 811-foot Whitewater Falls; explored mystical corners of the Southern Appalachians like Moore Cove; and hiked to glorious views of the Pisgah National Forest’s lush mountains at Looking Glass Rock and 6,214-foot Black Balsam Knob on the Art Loeb Trail. Continue reading →

October 11, 2016 Above Baron Lake in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains.

3-Minute Read: Backpacking With Teens in Idaho’s Sawtooths

In Backpacking, Family Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

By Michael Lanza

Take three 15-year-old boys backpacking in the mountains and you never quite know what will happen. When my son, Nate, told me that he wanted to take two buddies out on their first backpacking trip, I agreed to it without hesitation. Over the course of three late-August days in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains—where we camped at two of the range’s numerous, beautiful mountain lakes—we saw one puncture wound (minor, from walking around barefoot), one case of diarrhea (I recommend against a diet consisting primarily of Slim Jims), and one pair of boots inadvertently dunked in a creek they were being carried across (I still don’t quite understand how that happened).

We also possibly created two new backpackers, and almost certainly forged some memories that three young men will carry perhaps for the rest of their lives, laughing hard whenever they recall this trip together. Continue reading →

October 10, 2016 Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile.

Photo Gallery: My Top 10 Adventures… Ever

In Backpacking, Hiking, International Adventures, National Park Adventures, Paddling   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments

By Michael Lanza

Whenever someone asks me, “What’s your favorite trip?”, I can never come up with just one answer. I’ve had the good fortune to have taken many amazing adventures over the years. But I have assembled a list of my 10 all-time favorites (so far). Check out this photo gallery of selected images from several of those trips, including hiking and backpacking from the Grand Canyon and Glacier national parks to the John Muir Trail and Patagonia (lead photo, above). Continue reading →

October 9, 2016 Above the West Fork White River, Northern Loop, Mount Rainier National Park.

3-Minute Read: Completely Alone on Mount Rainier’s Northern Loop

In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment

By Michael Lanza

“There’s absolutely no one out here.”

I was just a few hours into a solo backpacking trip around Mount Rainier National Park’s 32.8-mile Northern Loop when that realization hit me. It was a cool, clear day in October. None of my usual hiking partners had been available to join me. So I decided to do the trip alone, something I’ve done more times than I could count and felt comfortable with. I had no idea that this time I’d face the kind of situation that solo hikers think about but can never anticipate: a threat that shrinks the margin of safety in the wilderness down to nothing. Continue reading →

October 4, 2016 Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

Ask Me: Where Can I Hike in Yosemite in Late Fall?

In Ask Me, Backpacking, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments


First, let me say that I enjoy your trip reports, gear reviews and especially the photographs. I also love kids and your adventures with them are a joy to read. Your website inspires me to want to get out West and experience the wilderness. With that in mind, I have the opportunity to attend a wedding just outside the South Entrance to Yosemite National Park the weekend of Veterans Day. I have never been to Yosemite and I would hate to miss an opportunity to see the sights. I would like to stay a few days after the wedding to hike and possibly backpack. Do you have any suggestions for dayhikes and perhaps someplace to camp? Continue reading →

← Older posts