Beginner Backpacking Trips
First time backpacking? Check out our recommendations for a great first trip!
We must warn you that for many people backpacking can become addictive. However, it’s addictive in the way that love, gardening or appreciating art are addictive. It restores something fundamental. It boils the complexity of life down to a size that is digestible – and delicious.
For people who have never backpacked, we provide this page as a resource for finding the perfect backpacking trips for beginners. Below the offerings we provide more information, so please feel free to scroll down and discover the criteria we used for selecting these trips.
And as always, call us today at 800-715-HIKE (4453) with any questions you have!
All Best Beginner Backpacking Trips Trips (23 results)
Alpine Peaks, Lakes & Waterfalls Thru Hike
Yellowstone Spring Trekking Adventure
Heart of Yosemite Backpack
High Sierra Loop
Glacial Basin Thru Hike
Smoky Mountains Classic
Heart Lake & Mount Sheridan
Yosemite Alpine Meadows & Waterfalls
Criteria for Beginner Backpacking Trips
- Difficulty – Wildland Trekking trips are rated on a scale of 1-5 in difficulty. For the most part, backpacking trips start at Level 3 and go up to Level 5. (Read more about our rating system.) This means that Level 3 backpacking trips are our easiest options, and we believe are best for beginner backpackers. Of course, if you’re in very good shape you can go with a more difficult trip, and many people choose to do that. In general though, we recommend beginners start with Level 3.
- Duration – Let’s face it, you don’t know yet whether you’re going to enjoy backpacking. So let’s start with a trip that isn’t too short (you need enough time to decide if you like it) and not too long (no need to over do it either.) In general, this means 3-5 day trips.
- WOW Factor – Our philosophy at Wildland Trekking is that you should be expect to be “wowed” by your trip with us. And when it comes to falling in love with backpacking, of course the wow factor is important. In the trips we recommend for beginners, we make sure they have a features that are likely to astonish guests: views, wildlife, geology, ecology, waterfalls, human history, deep wilderness and more.
What is a Backpacking Trip?
“Backpacking” has different meanings depending on where and how it’s used. In much of the world, for example, backpacking refers to young people traveling by bus or plane between towns and cities, staying hostels, and traveling as cheaply as possible. In the United States, it means something quite different.
Here in the good ol’ USA, backpacking means loading everything you need on your back (in a multi-day backpack), and setting off into the wilderness to hike, camp, explore and enjoy the backcountry. (“Backcountry” refers to an area that is at least 1 hour from the nearest road or access to emergency services.) On a backpacking trip in the wilderness, we cook our own food, camp under the stars, and generally exist, fully immersed in the natural world, for multiple days.
Why Get into Backpacking?
Every person who gets into this unique sport does so for their own reasons, which can be diverse. However, we have distilled the reasons down to the list below and expanded on the reasons many people find magic in backpacking:
- Adventure – perhaps the most famous quote about adventure is from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you’ll be swept off to.” While there is danger in adventure, there is also invigoration, excitement, joy, wonder, discovery and growth. On a beginner backpacking adventure, you’re very likely to experience all of the above!
- Natural Beauty – many people start backpacking to have more natural beauty in their lives. Whether it’s towering mountains, ancient glaciers, roaring rivers, pristine creeks and lakes, majestic wildlife, thundering waterfalls, fields of wildflowers, deep forests, vast meadows, or something else, natural beauty is inspiring and rejuvenating.
- Challenge – some people are looking for challenge because that’s what makes them feel most alive. Well, backpacking is challenging! Hiking with a 30-40 pound backpack for hours, up and down mountains or canyons, is tiring. And it’s also richly fulfilling! After hiking for 5-8 hours, arriving at camp can feel like a revelation. A tent can seem like a 5-star hotel room, and a hot bowl of Doug’s Green Chile Stew or a plate of chicken fajitas can taste like a Michelin Star meal!
- Discovery – joining your first backpacking trip is a step into a new world, where you will make many discoveries. You’ll discover things about yourself, and about our amazing planet. Several years ago we asked our Facebook audience to say what they gained from their Wildland trip in one word, and the most common response was “confidence.” This took us by surprise at the time, but looking back now it makes sense. On a first time backpacking trip, guests are often outside their comfort zones, and what happens when we successfully move outside our comfort zones? We grow, our world expands, and we find aspects of ourselves we didn’t know were there before. People also discover things in nature they didn’t expect: the wonder of sitting next to a small rivulet trickling thousands of feet down a mountainside; the depth of the Milky Way in a clear night sky where city lights aren’t drowning it out; the fragility of a tiny alpine flower; the contemplative qualities of forests and meadows. What will you discover on your first trip?
- The Missing Link – it’s only been in the last 200 years that nature was something most humans didn’t experience on a daily basis. Our ancestors lived completely immersed in the natural world, whether it was hunting and gathering, tending to livestock or farming. With the industrial revolution in the late 1700’s, a separation occurred between humans and nature. From our modern perspective looking back, it almost silently grew into a deep and wide chasm, such that today people live in vast cities and think little of it. Reconnecting with the fundamental aspect of life that nature provides is a richly rewarding and invigorating journey. And there’s no better way to do it than by backpacking because it allows people to completely bridge the chasm between themselves and the flourishing miracle of the natural world.