Tag Archives: California backpacking

February 11, 2019 A backpacker on the Pitamakan Pass-Dawson Pass traverse in Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

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By Michael Lanza

What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.

In the final analysis, though, the only criterion that matters is simple: that it’s a great trip. And that character shows itself over and over in my picks for the 10 best backpacking trips in the country, selected from the many I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of carrying a backpack, both as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →

February 3, 2019 Above Marie Lake on the John Muir Trail.

Thru-Hiking the John Muir Trail: The Ultimate, 10-day, Ultralight Plan

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By Michael Lanza

Are you planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail? “America’s Most Beautiful Trail” should be on every serious backpacker’s tick list. After hiking it in seven days, I became convinced that—while that was very hard—the traditional itinerary of spreading the roughly 221 miles out over three weeks or more has a serious flaw: With limited food-resupply options, you’ll carry a monster pack that may not only make you sore and uncomfortable, it could cause injuries that cut short your trip.

In this article, I lay out my ultralight strategy for thru-hiking the JMT in 10 to 11 days—and why you’d want to do it. Continue reading →

January 28, 2019 A backpacker at Burro Pass, above Matterhorn Canyon in Yosemite National Park.

The 5 Best Backpacking Trips in Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

After years of exploring all over Yosemite on numerous backpacking trips, I’ve learned two lessons about it: Few places possess Yosemite’s breadth and variety of scenery and inspire the same powerful sense of adventure. And its backcountry harbors such an abundance of soaring granite peaks, jagged skylines, rushing creeks, waterfalls, and shimmering alpine lakes—plus, over 700,000 acres of designated wilderness and 750 miles of trails—that you can take many, many trips in America’s third national park without running out of five-star scenery.

There’s only one Yosemite, and it unquestionably belongs on any list of the best national park backpacking trips. Continue reading →

January 21, 2019 Backpackers on the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia National Park.

Photo Gallery: 10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places

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By Michael Lanza

Over many years of taking wilderness trips of all kinds, I’ve gotten pickier about my backpacking and other backcountry adventures. The best-known trails, peaks, and wilderness waters are usually beautiful; but sometimes, for various reasons, they just don’t do it for me. More and more, I seek out the places and multi-day adventures that inspire a powerful sense of awe. It often requires getting farther from civilization, onto paths less traveled, and occasionally entails greater physical, navigational, or technical challenges. But those adventures feel wilder. And that’s what I’m after.

The 10 places shown in the photos below are exactly that: They still remain wild. Continue reading →

January 20, 2019 A backpacker in Glacier National Park.

10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit

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By Michael Lanza

The first time I backpacked in Yosemite National Park, more than 25 years ago, I applied for a permit to start at the park’s most popular trailhead, Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley—and I got it. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was (and it’s even more difficult to get that permit now). Over the years since, I’ve been shot down trying to get permits for popular hikes in parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Glacier. But I’ve also learned many tricks for landing coveted backcountry permits in those flagship parks and others—which receive far more requests than they can fill. I share what I’ve learned in the following, detailed tips, which I’ve just updated.

And if you want to take a trip in one of those popular parks this year, the time for reserving permits is upon us or coming up quickly.

Continue reading →

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