12 incredible backpacking trips around Oregon

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Backpacking is a time-honored Pacific Northwest tradition, strapping a few days’ worth of supplies to our backs, and setting off to explore and camp out in the remote wilderness.

In Oregon, there is a vast wealth of backpacking opportunity, taking hikers high into the mountains, out into the arid desert and along the stunning coastline. These 12 trips (in no particular order) are mostly two to five-day excursions, but if you’re really prepared for a long haul, you can be out on the trail for weeks or even months at a time.

If you’re new to backpacking, or if it’s been a while, it would be wise to get well supplied – but not overburdened – with the basics. Any local outdoor store can help advise you and get the gear that you need. It’s also important to leave no trace, and practice good outdoor ethics and etiquette. Safety is a big deal, too, so be sure to call the nearby U.S. Forest Service ranger station or local BLM office before you leave.

Backpacking requires a little more preparation and precaution than day hiking or car camping, but the extra efforts are well rewarded with a night under the stars in the thick of Oregon wilderness. Few experiences are as humbling, and as good for the soul, as rambling about our wild natural places.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

1. Timberline Trail

Distance: 38.3 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Season: Summer

Permit: Wilderness permit required between May 15 and Oct. 15, free at trailheads

One of Oregon’s most iconic trails, the Timberline Trail circumnavigates Mount Hood along a beautiful loop hike nearly 40 miles long. A debris flow washed out a portion of the trail in 2006, but in 2016 it was finally reconnected. Expect to have company in the summer, which is the best and safest time to make the popular trek. Most hikers begin and end at Timberline Lodge, where the route follows the Pacific Crest Trail.

Terry Richard/The Oregonian

2. Pacific Crest Trail

Distance: 460 miles

Difficulty: Difficult

Season: Summer

Permit: Varies

The beautiful and beloved Pacific Crest Trail runs 460 miles through Oregon, and while plenty of thru-hikers tackle the challenge of completing the whole thing, it’s easy enough to pop in and out for shorter excursions. Several backpacking trips on this list run along parts of the PCT, but there are lots of others, like the 26.6-mile out-and-back trek from Santiam Pass to Rockpile Lake, and the many lovely miles of trails throughout the Sky Lakes Wilderness in southern Oregon.

Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

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