For many backpackers, getting away from civilization is one of backpacking's main draws. Some quiet time away from other people is a great way de-stress and clear your head. The beautiful scenery is a bonus.
With more and more people hitting the trails, it can be harder and harder to find spots that aren't swarming with other hikers. Luckily, there will always be hidden gem trails. Or, those that are just so far out of the way they don't see many visitors.
Looking for a secluded spot for your next backpacking trip? Read on to find a remote area of wilderness near you!
Featured Photo: Sawtooth Mountains (photo by Joan Amero)
Aptly named for its distance, this is one of the most popular sections of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Especially for the East Coast states, you can't get much more remote than the 100-Mile Wilderness in Maine. Some logging roads criss-cross the area. But you'll be hard-pressed to get help quickly if you run into trouble. There is little to no cell service.
Here, you'll find very rugged terrain filled with lots of rocks, boulders, and stream crossings. But, if you truly want to get away from civilization for a week, it's a beautiful place to spend it. Other bonuses include tons of water sources and fishing spots, blueberries in-season, waterfalls, and views of Mt. Katadhin.
For more details, be sure to check out our full write-up of the 100 Mile Wilderness on the blog.
Feel like tackling the highest summit in Utah? The trek to the 6,000 foot+ peak is surprisingly quiet due to its remote location. There are several ways to get there. The Henrys Fork Trail is one of the more popular routes. But you still shouldn't encounter that many other hikers.
This route is a 29-mile out-and-back, making it the perfect trip for a long weekend. A surprisingly diverse amount of flora and fauna await. And, if you're into wildlife viewing, you have a chance to see moose, bighorn sheep, and elk, among others. If that's not enough, you also get great views of the surrounding Uintas Mountains. Finally, fishermen will love the chance to cast their lines in the backcountry here.
For a more complete description of the route, head over to our detailed Henry's Fork Trail to King's Peak article.
Queens River Loop
Unless you already know how beautiful it is, Idaho seems to get overlooked when it comes to great hiking. That said, do yourself a favor and check out the Queens River Loop. Located in the Sawtooth Mountains, it's arguably one of the most scenic places in the state.
The mountains offer something for outdoor lovers of all kinds, from hikers to paddlers to climbers. For backpackers, the Queens River area is a gorgeous place to get away from it all. This 30-mile loop offers wonderful camping spots next to the lakes along the way. Don't miss out on the side trip to Queens Rivers Falls while you're there too. Be warned, though: Parts of the trail get quite overgrown. So, be prepared to do some bushwhacking.
The Queens River area offers a network of trails, so you have a few different options if this loop doesn't suit your needs. Regardless of which route you take, the area is in the southern Sawtooths. This part sees much less traffic than the northern part, guaranteeing some tranquility.
Cohos Trail-Nash Stream Forest Section
Did you know New Hampshire has its own long-distance trail? It is 170 miles in length altogether. This section in particular is a much more obtainable 25 miles point-to-point. The Nash Stream Forest Section travels through very remote country. It's a great place to spend a few days alone and avoid the crowds on the popular White Mountains trails.
This section traverses New Hampshire's largest state forest. You'll come across plenty of beautiful natural sights, including Percy Peaks, Pond Brook Falls, Nash Stream, Cathedral Meadow, Mt.Sugarloaf, and Bulldozer Flats. In other words, it has a little bit of everything! There is at least one shelter and one campsite along the way. The one drawback of this section is that you must camp in designated areas.
Fife Lake Loop
We often hear about Michigan's great hiking opportunities in its upper peninsula. However, there are some beautiful trails in the “mitten” too. Recently, the Fife Lake Loop has become part of the much larger North Country Trail. This 21-mile loop is rated as easy to moderate as it's a pretty level hike.
The trail is well-marked. A couple of campgrounds are at either end, but dispersed camping is allowed too. It offers a quiet walk through an impressive pine forest. You will also find picturesque river bluff vistas and amazingly clear lakes. The relatively easy hike makes the Fife Lake Loop an excellent weekend trip. One word of caution: One section is very dry, so filter water whenever you can.
Colorado Trail-Segment 24
Also part of a long-distance trail, section 24 of the Colorado Trail is a much more doable 20 miles. A point-to-point route, this section is rated as moderate to challenging. Located in the San Juan National Forest, you get pine trees for days-literally. Be aware that there are some exposed areas too, so be sure to bring sun protection.
Aside from being remote, this section includes everything wonderful about this area of the state. This includes a hike along the Continental Divide, mining remnants, waterfalls, a descent into Elk Creek Canyon, the Animas River, and finally ending with a climb up Molas Pass. Though rugged, the beautiful scenery is worth the effort.
North Fork Mountain Trail
West Virginia is another state that often gets forgotten about in the way of amazing outdoor activities. With quiet, forest-covered hills, you don't want to miss out on this secluded area in the East.
23 miles point-to-point, the North Fork Mountain Trail is located in the stunning Allegheny Mountains. Rated as moderate to difficult, it offers so many overlooks along the spine of North Fork you're likely to lose count. Chimney Top, near the end, is one of the best. Along the way, you can also enjoy sweeping views of green valleys and the nearby undulating mountains. Don't skip the side trail to the Seneca Rocks lookout either! There are also interesting rock formations and plant life galore along the route. Visit in-season and you'll find some blueberries to snack on too!
Several established campsites exist on the trail. The route is very dry, so take plenty of water. You can also stock up from the spring near the campsite we have listed in our detailed North Fork Mountain Trail article.
Bob Marshall Wilderness
Want to enjoy the rugged beauty of Montana? But want to avoid the crowds of Yellowstone and the Tetons? If so, Bob Marshall Wilderness may be just the place you're looking for.
For something not too rugged, try the 20-mile West Fork Sun River route. You'll follow part of the Continental Divide, but the elevation gain isn't too bad at under 2,000ft. The journey along the Sun River features exposed walks on the mountainside. This gives you a great vantage point of the surrounding pine-covered mountains. And, of course, the wild river nearby.
For something more challenging, look into the Chinese Wall Loop. There are several different trails to and around this prominent limestone escarpment. (Which you just need to see in person to appreciate its magnitude.) Shorter out-and-backs can be planned, but this loop covers an impressive 62 miles around the whole thing.
Lake Clark National Park
If you're seeking a truly wild backcountry adventure, look no further than Lake Clark National Park. This large natural area covers a whopping 4 million acres on Alaska's southwest peninsula. That said, you have plenty of options for planning your route. The Tanalian Trails within the park are short and used for day hikes. Beyond that, you will need excellent navigational skills and route planning for your “choose your own adventure” trip.
The park is so remote that it has no entrance fee. You can only get to it by plane and very occasionally by boat. You get a true sense of Alaskan remoteness here: Towering snow-covered peaks, coastal areas full of various fish and sea birds, and even volcanoes. There is a very healthy population of brown and black bears since the estuaries provide a fish feast for them. You also have the chance to spot wolves, lynxes, and moose. Some specific highlights include Lake Clark, Cook Inlet, Crescent Lake, Silver Salmon Creek, and Proenneke's cabin.
If you're looking for more hike ideas, read our “Best Backpacking Trips for Your Bucket List” round-up post. Also, the following Hike of the Week articles cover other great remote trails across the U.S.
Hike of the Week: Alice-Toxaway Loop
Hike of the Week: Ozark Highlands Trail
Hike of the Week: Isle Royale National Park
For even more amazing backpacking trips visit The Trailhead, our interactive hike map. It contains a curated list of dozens of hikes, each with a detailed write-up like this one.
Finally, check out our comprehensive list of backpacking articles that cover just about everything there is to know about backpacking. If you're just starting out, our Backpacking 101 section covers all the basics. If you already have a few trips under your belt, you can find more advanced topics covered in our Expert Articles.
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