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Backpacker October 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
Back issues only

in this issue

4 min
lost and found

“YOU GO AHEAD. We’ll meet you at the campsite.” That was the consensus from my mom and her friend Diana, who were hiking more slowly than their grandchildren. It was a reunion of sorts, with three generations backpacking to a lake in Northern California’s Trinity Alps this past summer, and it was no surprise that the 72 year olds weren’t keeping pace with the teenagers. It was the first day, and we were planning to camp 5 miles in, halfway to the lake, at a spot we knew from previous trips. Our families started hiking here when I was about 10 years old, and we returned most summers because of the wildflower-filled meadows, granite cirque, and perfect jumping cliff that rose out of the clear, cold water. I was looking forward…

1 min

Raise ’em Right In our June issue, we shared our best tips for and stories about raising outdoor kids (“No Child Left Inside,” page 69). Readers wrote in to share their own experiences hiking with little ones. “It’s cheap, easy, and gives them memories that will last a lifetime,” wrote Barry Preuett. “Started them on the trail when they were 7 and 9, and now they crave our annual summer vacation to a new national park.” Some hit the trail even earlier: “My 1-year-old son hiking in Scotland was about the cutest thing ever,” wrote Amanda Green. “It is so important to start them young.” In response to Leslie Hsu Oh’s essay on taking her children hiking on an Alaskan glacier, several readers wrote in to criticize the author’s decision to…

1 min
dial in your color settings

Sorry, summer, the best hiking season is now, during fall’s prime-time foliage. But don’t sleep through the alarm— the color is fleeting. Here, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the hardwoods go off between the first and second weeks of October, but the true leaf-peeping connoisseur knows there’s more to it than that. Because you want to go when ground shrubs like sumac turn fiery red (second week of October) and when the sun is setting (6:45 p.m. or so). If you can luck into low-hanging fog (roll of the dice), then it’s just about perfect. The show will be especially good on a thru-hike of the 1,200-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail, but if you only have a day, try the 4-mile loop that circles Rough Butt Bald. From Bear Pen Gap (milepost…

5 min
haunted hikes

Lake Crescent OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, WA Maybe they were intrigued by a dark mass bobbing in the water near Sledgehammer Point. Or maybe it was a small, white flash at the surface that caught their attention. Or perhaps they simply cast a line for steelhead and were surprised to discover a 5-foot-long bundle on the other end. But for some reason on a day in July 1940, the two trout fishermen reeled in a nearly perfectly preserved corpse. Lake Crescent had surrendered one of its secrets. Lake Crescent is nestled in a glacial valley south of the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula. Four-thousand-foot peaks rise on either side, as if to guard it—and maybe they are. The native Klallam and Quileute people tell a story…

4 min
southern charm

The hardwood forests, scalped cliffs, and sandstone caves of northern Alabama are good any time of year, but they’re hard to beat with fall’s mild temperatures and electric foliage. It’s time to reap the rewards of the South’s best season. The insider The Bankhead—which includes the Sipsey Wilderness— is Janice Barrett’s backyard. And as outreach coordinator for the advocacy nonprofit Wild South, she takes full advantage of it. Barrett leads hikes exploring the wilderness’s caves and ridges all year. Canyon country The swimming hole below 40-foot Caney Creek Falls is no secret. But most hikers stop at the falls 1 mile in—leaving the off-trail extension deeper into the canyon all for you. Continue downstream on the social trail along the South Fork of Caney Creek another .8 mile to reach a 20-foot cascade Barrett…

3 min
w4 the great north

FROM THE SLOW RHYTHM of the splashes, I know the moose isn’t hurrying. I’m also fairly certain it’s staying on the far bank, but I can’t really tell, thanks to the thick fog that obscures everything but the tips of the Eastern white pines 300 feet away on the opposite shore. Not for the first time this trip, I’m grateful for the wide expanse of Maine’s Allagash River. I’m here during mating season and have no desire to cross a moose during the rut. The Allagash flows north, cutting 92 miles through Maine’s North Woods to Canada. It pools into lakes along the way, slowing the progress of our canoes, but here, it’s brisk. I still can’t see the bank across the way, but with each minute, the morning sun melts…