Favorite Backpacking, Tramping and Trekking Trips


These are our 20 favorite backpacking, tramping and trekking trips that we have done (so far) in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Nepal, Peru and Tanzania.  Follow the included links to read more about each trip and see our photos.

 1 - John Muir Trail, California

 2 - Khumbu Valley in Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal

 3 - Mt Eielson Loop in Denali National Park, Alaska

 4 - Tuckup Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

 5 - West Tonto Trail ("The Gems") in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

 
6 - Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range, Wyoming

 
7 - Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range, Wyoming

 8 - Mueller Hut Route in Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park, New Zealand

 
9 - Tongariro Northern Circuit in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

10 - Mt Kilimanjaro in Mt Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania

11 - Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru

12 - Royal Arch Loop in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

13 - Mt Ausangate Circuit, Peru 

14 - Wonderland Trail in Mt Rainier National Park, Washington

15 - "Northern Loop" (variation) in Glacier National Park, Montana

16 - Berg Lake Trail in Mt Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia

17 - Milford Track in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

18 - Tanner and Beamer Trails, Escalante Route and New Hance Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

19 - Thunder River/Deer Creek Loop in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

20 - Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, British Columbia


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John and Jean on the summit of Mt Whitney (14,505 feet ) 

1 - John Muir Trail from Yosemite National Park to Mt Whitney in California done in August/September 2011

We spent 22 days backpacking on this iconic 200 + mile trail, the best of the PCT, starting in Yosemite National Park and finishing on the summit of Mt Whitney.  Once the logistics of permits and food resupply were dealt with then all we needed to do was keep putting one foot in front of the other.  We were rewarded with the stunning scenery in the Sierra Nevada as the trail led us through lush valleys, past waterfalls, alpine lakes to above the timberline and over high altitude mountain passes with expansive views.  Going forward I have difficulty imagining that we will find another trip that will top this one.

Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos
      Banner Peak, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
      Banner Peak seen from the John Muir Trail in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
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        2 -  Khumbu Valley trek from Lukla to Everest Base Camp in Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal done in April/May 2008

        We did the REI Adventures Everest Base Camp Trek and it was a trip of a lifetime!  We spent 14 days trekking up (and back down) the Khumbu Valley from Lukla as far as Everest Base Camp.  The route runs through villages and valleys, past farms and monasteries all the while being surrounded by panoramic views of the amazing Himalayas.  The altitude makes it challenging but the scenery more than makes up for any discomforts.  Guided trips such as this are expensive but this one is definitely "bucket list" worthy. 

        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.
          
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        Changtse, Lho La, Mt Everest (in the distance), Lhotse and Nuptse in Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal 
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          3 - Mt Eielson Loop in Denali National Park in Alaska done in July 2010

          Backpacking in Denali National Park is tough.  The terrain is challenging, there are no backcountry trails or established routes.  However, there are some "social trails/roues" and the Mt Eielson Loop is probably the best.  This route has been well documented in "Backpacker Magazine".  While it is less than 15 miles we took three days to do it.  Daily mileage can be quite low in Denali due to time consuming river/stream crossings and the need to circumvent bears, lots of bears (not to mention the time one will spend taking photos).  The bottom line is that seeing Mt McKinley at sunrise from Eielson Pass (plus having an early morning visit by a nonchalant grizzly sow with two cubs) is a peak life experience.

          Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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          Mt McKinley (and Grizzly cubs) seen from Eielson Pass in Denali National Park, Alaska
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            4 - Tuckup Trail in Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona done in March & April 2018

            While it is possible to do this remote trail as one trip we chose to do it in two 6 day/5 night trips.  On the first we started at 150 Mile Canyon and exited via the North Arm of Tuckup Canyon (and walked about eight miles cross country back to our car).  On the second we left our Jeep at Toroweap and got a ride to the Schmutz Spring Trailhead. Both of these trips provide great educational experiences in route finding, learning to "read the canyon" as well as locating and managing water.  The terrain is rugged, the scenery is huge and the solitude is absolute!

            Follow the links to read more about our trips (Tuckup/east and Tuckup/west) and see our photos (Tuckup/east and Tuckup/west) .

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             Seen from the Tuckup Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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            5 - West Tonto Trail ("The Gems") in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), Arizona done in April 2013

            We spent 7 days/6 nights backpacking on the west Tonto Trail from the South Bass Trailhead to Hermits Rest (we could have done it in 6 days with different transportation arrangements to the trailhead). This trip was not without significant challenges, primarily a lack of reliable water, and the NPS says it is for "experienced canyon hikers" only.  Views up to the rim and down to the river are great.  The Tonto Platform is expansive and the trail circumvents several outstanding side canyons.  However, the best part is the solitude.  We went 4 days without seeing another person, unheard of while hiking on a named trail in this premier park in peak hiking season.

            Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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            Turquoise Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
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              6 - Cirque of the Towers within the Wind River Range in Bridger National Forest, Wyoming done in September 2012

              This is a very popular area as it is easily accessible but lacks the crowds of national parks   No permits are required and the scenery is stunning.   We've heard it can be quite "buggy" in July but we went right after Labor Day so had no problem with bugs or very many people.  We spent 5 days and 4 nights doing a loop by continuing past the Cirque across Lizard Head Plateau descending down through forest and past lakes before heading back up and over Hailey Pass.

              Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos

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              Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range within Bridger National Forest, Wyoming
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                7 - Titcomb Basin, Wind River Range in Bridger National Forest, Wyoming done in September 2012

                This is another great 5 day/4 night trip in "The Winds".  In addition to stunning mountain views we hiked past numerous gorgeous lakes.  The highlights were definitely Indian Basin and Titcomb Basin.  A minor knee issue caused us to shorten our trip but we had seen so much beauty we really couldn't complain.

                Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.
                  
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                Titcomb Basin in the Wind River Range within Bridger National Forest, Wyoming  
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                  8 - Mueller Hut Route in Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park, New Zealand (South Island) done in March 2012

                  We hiked up to the Mueller Hut and spent one night there.  The route is quite steep in places but the payoff includes great views of Mt Cook, Mt Sefton and the Tasman River valley.  Not to mention the opportunity to climb nearby Mt Oliver, the first mountain that Edmund Hillary climbed.  While we were there we were treated to an avalanche on Mt Sefton as well as close encounters with Keas, New Zealand's notorious "bandits" and the world's only alpine parrot.

                  Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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                  Mt Cook and Hooker Lake in Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park, New Zealand
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                    9 - Tongariro Northern Circuit in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand (North Island) done in March 2012

                    This is one of New Zealand's nine "Great Walks".  We spent 3 days and 2 nights and while huts are available we chose to stay in the adjacent campgrounds. In addition to hiking around "Mt Doom" (aka Mt Ngauruhoe) we had great views of the Emerald  Lakes and into the impressive Red Crater.  The "Tongariro Alpine Crossing" is an extremely popular dayhike and well worth doing if you simply don't have time for an overnight trip.  But if at all possible plan to spend more time exploring "Mordor".  

                    Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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                    Mt Ngauruhoe ("Mt Doom") in Tongariro National Park on New Zealand's North Island
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                      10 - Mt Kilimanjaro trek on the Marangu Route in Mt Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania done in September 2007

                      We did the REI Adventures Mount Kilimanjaro trek - Marangu Route and this was a trip of a lifetime.  We spent 6 days/5 nights trekking up the Marangu Route, staying in huts and being pampered by guides and porters. The altitude as well as sanitation issues make it challenging and it is not a "backcountry" experience.  However, it is one of the most iconic mountains in the world and you don't need any mountaineering skills to do it.  For those who follow the advice of their guides, going "pole-pole" (pronounced "pō-lāy pō- lāy" and means "slowly, gently" in Swahili) and reach the summit acquire a great sense of personal accomplishment as well as "bragging rights".

                      Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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                      Mt Kilimanjaro in Mt Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania
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                        11 - Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru done in June 2014

                        We did a 4 day/3 night trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with Andes Adventures.  The Inca Trail is infamous for its countless stairs.  What is not as well known is the fact it takes trekkers past several fascinating ruins on the way to Machu Picchu.  A fourth night is spent in a hotel in Machu Picchu Pueblo (AKA Aguas Calientes) and a full day exploring the iconic ruins.  Optional hikes include going to the top of Huayna Picchu (the pointy peak visible beyond Machu Picchu in the classic photo) or Machu Picchu Mountain.  This trek is definitely worthy of being on one's "bucket list".

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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                        Machu Picchu, Peru

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                        12 - Royal Arch Loop in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), Arizona done in April 2013

                        We spent 5 days/4 nights on the "Royal Arch Loop" starting and ending at the South Bass Trailhead.  This is considered one of the more challenging routes in the park and is for "experienced canyon hikers" only.  The primary reason is the necessity of doing a 20 foot rappel but it's not difficult if you've got the gear and know how to use it.  However, the route also involves the necessity of negotiating boulders (many boulders) as well as managing one's water.  Otherwise the route is straight forward and Royal Arch is well worth seeing but our favorite part was the side trip to "Elves Chasm" (especially "skinny dipping" in the incredibly cold water).  Five years later we did this challenging loop again with our son (trip report and photos).

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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                        Elves Chasm in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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                        13 - Mt Ausangate Circuit, Peru done in June and July 2014

                        We did a 5 day/4 night high altitude trek around Mt Ausangate with Andes Adventures.  This is a challenging trek as it takes you over three significant passes including the 16,600 foot high Palomani Pass.  Views of Mt Ausangate and surrounding peaks as well as alpine desert are stupendous.  What is surprising is seeing that people (primarily farmers and weavers) live in the highlands surrounding the mountains.  An added bonus is the two opportunities to soak in hot springs.    

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos

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                        Mt Ausangate, Peru

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                        14 - Wonderland Trail in Mt Rainier National Park, Washington done in September and October 2015

                        This iconic trail circumvents Mt Rainier through forest, alpine meadows and over passes. We did it in two parts.  The first was a 6 day/5 night trip from Sunrise to Longmire which is about 2/3 of the 93 total miles.  We did veer from the standard route and hiked through the much more scenic "Spray Park".   We utilized the more challenging "Cross Country Zones" rather than staying in designated campsites which rewarded us with better views.   The second part was a 4 day/3 night trip traveling from Longmire to Sunrise.  We stayed in campsites on this trip but due to the lateness of the season we had these normally crowded camping areas completely to ourselves!.

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos

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                        Mt Rainier seen from the Wonderland Trail in Mt Rainier National Park, Washington 

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                        15 - "Northern Loop" (variation) in Glacier National Park, Montana done in August 2012

                        We spent 7 days/6 nights in Glacier backpacking over Swiftcurrent, Red Gap and Stoney Indian Passes and on the Highline Trail.  Putting together satisfactory trips and obtaining permits requires flexibility and some "creativity".  Backcountry campgrounds are more "social" than we prefer but you get to meet interesting people and sights like Mokowanis Lake at sunset make it all worthwhile.

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos

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                        Mokowanis Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

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                        16 - Berg Lake Trail in Mt Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada done in September 2010

                        This extremely well constructed and maintained trail passes up through what is called the "Valley of a Thousand Falls".  While we can't say we saw that many, "Emperor Falls" and "Falls of the Pool" are definitely worth seeing.  We spent 3 days there and camped 2 nights at Berg Lake with a great view of Mt Robson, the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.  While there we did a day hike up to the scenic Mumm Basin.

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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                        Mt Robson and Berg Lake in Mt Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia

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                        17 - Milford Track in Fiordland National Park in New Zealand (South Island) done in March 2012

                        This is one of New Zealand's nine "Great Walks" and has been dubbed "The Finest Walk in the World".  Due to its popularity and "mystique" it must be booked months in advance.  There is no option to camp so we stayed in the DOC huts.  We had near perfect weather for the 4 days/3 nights we were there.  It was sunny on MacKinnon Pass but raining while we hiked out through the Arthur River valley so we got to see some of the resulting spontaneous waterfalls that Fiordland is famous for.

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.


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                        MacKinnon Pass in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

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                        18 - Tanner and Beamer Trails, the Escalante Route and the New Hance Trail in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), Arizona done in April 2014

                        We did a 7 day/6 night backpack trip.  We have done parts of this trip in the past; the Tanner and Escalante (trip report) but this time we were able to allow more time and include the Beamer Trail.  The views from the Tanner Trail are amazing (especially in evening light - photos from previous trip).  The Beamer Trail is airy in spots but the views and seeing the Little Colorado River make it well worth it.  The Escalante Route is exciting in places and Seventy-Mile Canyon is an unexpected treat.

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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                        Seen from the Beamer Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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                        19 - Thunder River/Deer Creek Loop in Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim), Arizona done in May 2011

                        We thoroughly enjoyed the wide variety of scenery (and weather conditions) on this 4 day/3 night loop backpack trip.  From Monument Point we dropped into the canyon on the Bill Hall Trail and went past the amazing Thunder Springs to Tapeats Creek.  We then followed an informal route down river to the beautiful Deer Creek Canyon.  The first two nights were so hot we slept naked on top of our sleeping bags but the our last night was spent on the Esplanade enjoying a storm (which dropped some snow on the North Rim) from the comfort of our tent while wearing insulated coats, hats and gloves.  We did a shorter version of this trip more recently starting at Indian Hollow and hiking directly to Deer Creek (trip report and photos) which added a side trip to see Deer Creek Falls.

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos.

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                        Deer Creek Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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                        20 - Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada done in September 2011

                        This is a very popular area for viewing Larch trees in the fall and access is limited for day use as well as overnight.  For those who want to stay overnight options include tent camping or staying in the Elizabeth Parker Hut (one of many huts run by the Alpine Club of Canada).  To get there one can either walk about six miles up the private road or take the shuttle bus to within a quarter of a mile of the hut and camping area.  Reservations are typically made months in advance but we were able to get last minute reservations for the hut and took the bus.  We spent three days day hiking some of the many trails in the area including the scenic Alpine Circuit trail.  We were treated to stunning views of jagged granite peaks, golden Larch and lovely reflections in numerous alpine lakes and ponds.

                        Follow the links to read more about our trip and see our photos 

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                        Near lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park, Alberta
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