Easily one of the best ways to spend a long weekend, regardless of the time of year, is trekking a trail over rocky mountain passes, along breezy coastlines, or in deep, verdant woodlands. Whether you make plans to revisit an old favorite or knock a new one off your bucket list, backpacking always presents a memorable adventure.
From Southeastern classics like Roan Mountain, to New England treasures like a hut-to-hut trip in the Presidentials, to epic and challenging trails in the Tetons, here are some of America’s greatest backpacking trips.
1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
19 miles, 1-2 days, Easy
Situated in the upper Midwest, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a see-it-to-believe-it sort of landscape with towering sandstone cliffs, impossibly blue lake waters, waterfalls, beaches, and dense woodlands. It also happens to be home to a 42-mile section of the 4,600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail along the south shore of Lake Superior, stretching from Munising, MI, to Grand Marais, MN.
Backcountry camping is available at 14 campgrounds along this 71,400-acre linear park. In the winter, under the right conditions, mammoth ice caves form, attracting thousands of visitors.
The 4.4 miles of the lakeshore path between the Mosquito and Chapel rivers is the most popular section of the North Country Trail. It follows the cliffs through deciduous forest and over sandy sections within view of Grand Portal Point and Lake Superior.
Most hikers start and end their day hikes at Grand Sable Visitor Center on the north end. Further south, the Coves Group to Munising Falls is an ambitious 19.2-mile trek. Yet another option is to start at Munising Falls at the southern end and take a ferry to Grand Island National Recreation Area. A popular marathon and 50K is run around the perimeter of the island in July, switching from clockwise to counter-clockwise year to year.