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7 Trails Made for Weekend Backpacking Trips

Our list features 7 trails that offer the perfect distance for weekend backpacking adventures

From New Hampshire to California, seven weekend-worthy trails to inspire your next backpacking trip...

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Looking to ditch the day pack and load up for an epic night in the backcountry? A weekend trip is the perfect way to get outside for a couple days, but still be back in time to punch the clock on Monday morning. If you’re just getting started, be prepared for the challenge of carrying extra gear—your Big Three (pack, shelter, sleep system) will comprise the majority of your base weight, and the addition of a cookset, extra layers, and food/water means your pack might be heavier than you expect.

Proper layering and clothing systems are crucial for spending the night outside. Remember that gear and clothing will change based on destination—if you’re hitting a trail with less shade and more exposure, you’ll need sun protection and careful water consideration. Heading to a region known for surprise rainstorms? Don’t forget a waterproof layer, and be sure to protect your down-insulated items. Are sections of trail above treeline? A windproof layer is a must. And of course, carefully consider what you wear on your feet. The FC 4.1 is an eco-friendly, waterproof hiking boot whose flexibility and ankle stability make it incredibly versatile and suitable for any of the trails below. 

Here are our favorite weekend-length trails:



•Distance: 13mi  

•Elevation Gain: 2,300ft 

•Trail Type: Loop

Experience the must-see South Rim in Big Bend National Park via this accessible, scenic trail. The most popular option is to head up Laguna Meadows Trail, then take Boot Canyon back to the Pinnacles Trail. This direction is significantly less steep than the other way around, and brings you right back to Chisos Lodge.

Backcountry permits are required for overnights, and taking the time to do this hike over two days is worth it to take in the views and appreciate the variety of terrain. This trail is incredibly varied, including canyons, open meadows, cliffs, and rocky outcroppings. Campsites at Laguna Meadow are always a good choice, but there are plenty of other camping options as well.



•Distance: 14mi

•Elevation Gain: 2,000ft 

•Trail Type: End-to-end, shuttle required

 Hugging the NC/TN border, the Roan Highlands is one of the more popular sections of the Appalachian Trail

Photo: Dallas Krentzel

While the northern half of the Appalachian Trail gets most of the glory, the Roan Highlands are a highlight of the southern half and one of the most iconic sections of the entire AT. You can start at either end (heading north from Carvers Gap or south from Highway 19E) and hike over majestic, rolling balds with 360-degree views on nearly every climb and descent.

The trail is well-marked (follow the famous white blazes) and you can stay at the Overmountain Shelter, a large red barn with plenty of space for section hikers. This is a popular section hike, so hitches or shuttles are easy to come by. Leaving a car at either end is also an option.

The La Sportiva FC 4.1 is an eco-friendly boot that offers protection and comfort for all hiking distances.

Photo: La Sportiva



•Distance: 23mi 

•Elevation Gain: 2,100ft 

•Trail Type: Loop

In just over 20 miles, you can experience the Ansel Adams Wilderness, the John Muir Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail on this trek through the Sierra Nevada. The loop begins and ends at Agnew Meadows, and note that a backcountry permit is required and there are a limited number awarded per day.

As the name suggests, there are a multitude of lakes to ogle, cool your feet, and collect water from (just be sure to purify or filter it first!). You’ll crest 10,000-foot passes, enjoy panoramic views, and have more camping options than you’ll know what to do with. This distance includes a spur to Ediza Lake, or cut the spur and save four miles. This trip can be split into two or three days depending on mileage goals and how much time you want to relax lakeside. Camping is not permitted within 100 feet of lakes, running water, or the trail, but there are plenty of places to set up a tent.


 The Beaten Path lives up to it's name as one of the most scenic and popular trails in the region.

Photo: Maggie Slepian

•Distance: 26mi 

•Elevation Gain: 3,400ft 

•Type:End-to-end, shuttle

Mile-for-mile, this is perhaps one of the most incredible trails in the country. The Beaten Path stays above 6,000 feet in elevation from end to end, thus has a narrow window of time between seasonal snow cover. The two trailheads are in Cooke City and Red Lodge, and this hike can be done in either direction. That being said, starting from the Cooke City side results in much less elevation gain and is the direction more commonly hiked.

The lakes, open plateaus, and million-dollar views make it hard to choose a campsite, but Fossil Lake is a solid option that puts you right around the high point. You won’t have a water shortage through here, and the trail is very easy to follow. Set up a key exchange with another hiking group, or go for the shuttle.



•Distance: 21mi

•Elevation Gain: 4,650 ft  

•Trail Type: Loop

This loop starts at the Daly Creek Trailhead outside of West Yellowstone and gains a burly 3,400 feet from trailhead to high point, with many smaller ascents and descents scattered throughout. Gaining the ridgeline is only the first challenge for this incredible hike, but it’s worth the reward.

You’ll start and finish in the woods, but the middle section spans a wild ridge between Daly Pass and Bighorn Peak. Expect to see mountain goats, enjoy spectacular ridgeline views, and revel in the experience of traversing the remote northwest edge of Yellowstone National Park. The trail might be hard to spot in several grassy places—in that case, just get to a high point and scan for trail markers.


 On a clear day, you’ll be able to see all 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks.  

Photo: Shahid Durrani

•Distance: 17mi 

•Elevation Gain: 3,500ft 

•Trail Type: Loop

This might be a popular trail, but don’t underestimate the difficulty of hiking in the Adirondacks—full of steep, technical climbs that are often little more than glorified rockslides. It’s worth it though—hikers will snag three of the Adirondack 46ers on this route, scattered with waterfalls, a lake, and wide-open summits.

Start and finish at Marcy Dam (a few miles from the Adirondack Loj) and get ready for rewarding views and several rugged sections that require hand-over-hand ascents. This trail crosses the summit of Mount Marcy, the tallest peak in New York, and on a clear day, you’ll be able to see all 46 High Peaks.

A hiking boot for all seasons, the FC 4.1 is ready for all your backpacking missions.

Photo: La Sportiva



•Distance: 29mi

•Elevation Gain: 9,100 ft 

•Trail Type: Loop

There’s very little easy hiking in the White Mountains, and with over 9,000 feet of cumulative (and rocky) elevation gain, the "Pemi Loop" gives you a taste of why this region is so revered and challenging. This is less of a loop and more of a series of interconnected trails, so be sure you have a good set of maps and know your junctions.

Start at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center and enjoy a nice stroll before the elevation starts ramping up. You’ll hit eight of New Hampshire’s famous 4,000-foot peaks, experience classic New Hampshire terrain, and get to check off a New England bucket list hike. The popular Franconia Ridge can get crowded, but other sections provide a truly remote experience. The AMC operates three campsites along the loop, where hikers can stay for a small fee. Choose the site that best fits your mileage itinerary, and be aware that this is a fragile ecosystem and stealth camping is not allowed.

Before you set out, be sure to research terrain, weather, gear, and food needs. As always, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the views!

Written by Maggie Slepian for RootsRated in partnership with La Sportiva.



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5/1/2018 7:56 AM
Posted in Running Hiking By Team Sportiva

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