ZINIO logo

Backpacker January 2017

Published nine times a year, Backpacker is a magazine of wilderness travel, offering practical, "you can do it, here's how" advice to help you enjoy every trip. Filled with the best places, gear, and information for all kinds of hiking and camping trips, each issue delivers foldout maps and stunning color photography.

United States
Pocket Outdoor Media, LLC

in this issue

3 min
go the distance

THE FIRST THRU-HIKERS I ever met were sitting at the Tuolumne Meadows grill in Yosemite—and other guests were clearly trying to avoid them. The scraggly duo looked beat, reeked like death, and were devouring some horrible combination of French fries and ice cream. I was taking a break after a hard (for me) 5 -mi le hike. My thoughts were on celebrating, but I listened, rapt, as these PCT hikers regaled me with stories of their latest 10-day slog through the snow-covered Sierra. By the time they packed up to get back on the trail, I wondered if, one day, maybe I could join their ranks. Two years later, in 2007, I did, hiking the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail. But nothing went right. My stove broke. I had to beg water of…

3 min
we’re number one!

After we published our picks for America’s 20 best colleges for hikers (“Adventure U,” October 2016), dozens of readers wrote in to nominate their alma maters: Western Washington University Bellingham, WA “There’s hiking only 15 minutes away on Chuckanut Drive and an hour away on Whidbey Island. The water is perfect for kayaking and SUP.” —Debora Ligaya W heeler University of Nevada Reno, NV “UNR is 20 minutes from the Sierra and has incredible views of the Black Rock Desert. ” —Thomas Murarik University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN “The university sits between two of the highest-volume rac ing and kayaking rivers in the country and has outdoor rock climbing within the city limits at Ijams Crag.” —Kevin Flint Northern Michigan University Marquette, MI “The North Country Trail actually runs through campus, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is just 45 minutes away.” —Brad Fuerst Got Moose? Facebook follower Lonnie Green…

1 min
trips and tips for america’s thru-hikes

1 Hike your own hike. APPALACHIAN TRAIL, JEFFERSON NATIONAL FOREST, VA Whether you’re a thru-hiker, a section-hiker, or a dayhiker, you’re, well, a hiker. Step on the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail if you need a reminder. The long path winds past no shortage of highlights, but McAfee Knob is one of the finest. The best way to get there is, of course, along your end-to-end hike, but the 7.6-mile out-and-back from McAfee Pass is a quality alternative. Pick up the AT and follow the white blazes east up 3,197-foot Catawba Mountain. Break through the green tunnel near mile 3.3 and continue past boulders to the summit. Take a short spur to McAfee Knob, a rocky fin that juts off the mountain like a diving board above the farmhouses, country lanes, and rolling hills of…

4 min
the dayhiker’s triple crown

Snoqualmie Pass to Kendall Katwalk Pacific Crest Trail MT. BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST, WASHINGTON Get a side of vertigo with your dayhike when you tackle the Kendall Katwalk. Instead of routing the long path around 5,784-foot Kendall Peak, trail workers dynamited the Pacific Crest Trail into it. Here, near mile 2,414, the PCT thins to 5 feet wide as it hugs the granite face with 800-foot drop-offs to the west. From 3,022-foot Snoqualmie Pass, pick up the PCT and head 6 miles north, alternating through shady old-growth and open talus, to reach the Katwalk. (Time it for late summer when the columbine, phlox, and penstemon are in full bloom in Kendall Gardens near mile 4.7.) Tiptoe across the ledge and scan westward for a bird’s-eye vista of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and its…

3 min
mountains to sea north carolina

The insider Kate Dixon is the executive director of Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and has co-written 18 guidebooks about North Carolina’s longest trail. On top of that, she leads the Friends’ trail maintenance and trail building efforts. 1. Best weekend “You walk along a ridge with a top-down view into the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area,” Dixon says of this 19.5-mile section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) that bisects Pisgah National Forest. In spring, the slopes teem with wildflowers (think: blazing-purple larkspur and green-andwhite trillium and chickweed). But come fall, when the hardwoods transform into a blaze of reds and oranges, it may be even better. To do it, leave one car at the trailhead on NC 181 and then head out on the MST from Old NC 105. Almost immediately, reach the…

1 min
white bear lake, ca

9 Find a higher calling. SIERRA HIGH ROUTE, JOHN MUIR WILDERNESS, CA Hop on a long trail and you’ll come across some remote gems. Consider this: White Bear Lake is tucked in the middle of the Sierra, cradled by 12,000-foot peaks, and only accessible via the 195-mile, mostly off-trail Sierra High Route. We’d give you the easy way there, but there isn’t one. It’s smack in the middle—yes, mile 100—of the SHR. The closest established trail is the PCT, some 4 miles west as the crow flies and separated by a gauntlet of unnamed granite peaks and mountain lakes. So do it right: Get there on day 10 of the SHR, a three-week journey from Kings Canyon National Park to Yosemite. “The Sierra High Route takes you through some of the most…