29 Aug 4 of the Very Best Overnight Backpacking Trips Near Portland, OR
I can’t think of anything better than breathing in mountain air, stargazing away from civilization and completely removing myself for a few days on a backpacking adventure.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re almost too spoiled by the incredible trails that surround us in every direction. Some of these trails perfectly teeter along the Oregon gloomy coast, some effortlessly weave into the high desert plains, and some are nestled perfectly into the mountains littered with wildflowers and clear blue waterways. With nearly 3,000 trails in the PNW, it can be overwhelming to choose the best trail for an overnight backpacking adventure.
So here are some of my favorite trailheads where I can escape the city and truly marvel at what mother nature has to offer.
Eagle Creek Trail
For a very close to Portland trail, Eagle Creek along the gorge is an incredible, easily accessible option. Running at about 25 miles, this trip will last about 2 – 3 days (depending on your skill level). This trail begins at Eagle Creek Campground and ends at Wahtum Lake. This is a nice out and back hike with great scenery of waterfalls, ferns, and rocky outcroppings. To really get everything this trail has to offer, it’s best to visit in late spring/early August.
Timberline on Mount Hood, makes for another astonishing trip in which you could complete in roughly 4 days and 3 nights. . It begins at Timberline Lodge and then proceeds to circle Mount Hood covering about 40 miles on both the Pacific Crest Trail and Timberline Trail. The variety experienced along this route is truly incredible with highlights of Ramona Falls, Bald Mountain, McNeil Point, Elk Meadows/Elk Cove and Paradise Park. Blooming meadows of wildflowers, barren lava flows, and huge waterfalls are sure to make all of the elevation gain well worth it. Be prepared for multiple river crossings along your journey but most of all, be prepared for a beautiful experience exploring the wonders of the Mount Hood Wilderness.
Three Finger Jack Trail
If you’re short on time, but still want to make it out for an overnighter, one of my favorites is Three Finger Jack. This trail is one of the best for a one night excursion as it’s in the Canyon Creek Meadows Wasco Lake loop. You can also take Canyon Creek trail up the base of Three Finger Jack and scramble up to some excellent high elevation camp spots with amazing mountain goat viewing spots, glimmering trout filled lakes, and huckleberries galore in July and August..
Snowgrass Flat and Goat Lake Loop Trail
Snowgrass Flat and Goat Lake Loop trail in Washington, about 3hrs 30 mins away from Portland proper, can be done as either a long day trip, a nice 2-night backpack trip or you can even expand it to other neighboring trails and extend the trip to be even longer than 2 days! The trail passes through dense forest before reaching treeline, follows panoramic ridgelines, and passes through flowering meadows. The bugs on these trails can be quite relentless, but the pristine high alpine environment with wildflower meadows, mountain goats, and the above the tree line adventure make it all worth it.
Backpacking is a necessity as it gives me the time to unplug and gain the clarity I need to tackle the demands of normal day-to-day life confidently. I can escape for a solo trip or take my family and come back feeling rested and thankful. As always, make sure you do the proper research, have all the necessary gear, permits and convenient nutrition before visiting these trailheads. But mostly, remember to take it all in. Breathe.