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Backing trips combine hiking with wilderness camping and there are plenty of backpacking trips for beginners across the U.S. that are a great place to start. Beginner backpacking trips are a great option for vacation for those looking for an affordable, outdoorsy getaway. There an especially great option for families looking for Father’s Day trip ideas.

Ready to start planning a backpacking trip with your friends? Start by using Troupe’s group trip planner to let your backpacking buddies vote on their favorite hiking destination. In addition, be sure to check out tips for taking a road trip with friends if you’re planning on a longer backpacking getaway.

Some of the best backpacking trips for beginners can be found in:

  • Yosemite: Young Lakes trail
  • Mount Rainier: Wonderland Trail to Camp Summerland
  • Appalachian Trail: Elm Street to Happy Hill Shelter
  • Cottonwood Heights, Utah: Willow Lake
  • Yellowstone National Park: Bechler Cave Falls Loop

Beginner backpacking trip destinations

It’s important to consider hiking distances, the difficulty of trails, and remoteness when planning your first backpacking trip. The following destinations all have low mileage, easy-to-hike trails, and even facilities in some cases, which are great for beginner backpackers.

Yosemite: Young Lakes

One of the most beautiful places in the United States, everyone should visit Yosemite National Park at some point. But in order to really appreciate the area’s nature, there’s no better way to experience it than on a backpacking trip through the backcountry. Luckily for beginners, there are plenty of hiking trails suitable for inexperienced hikers. The Young Lakes trail takes you 14 miles (out and back) through Tuolumne Meadows backcountry where you can set up camp on the shores of one of the lakes.

Mount Rainier: Wonderland Trail to Camp Summerland

It’s hard to go wrong when choosing a hike around Mount Rainier as no matter where you go, the scenery is spectacular. On the Wonderland Trail to Camp Summerland, views of the glacier and mountain are complimented by wildflowers and mountain goats. You’ll cross creeks by footbridge along this 10+ mile (out and back) trail. Keep your eyes peeled and you might even spot a wolverine. Besides, who doesn’t want to hike something called the Wonderland Trail?

Appalachian Trail: Elm Street to Happy Hill Shelter

This section of the Appalachian Trail has everything you want for a beginner backpacking trip. The total distance is only 9 miles there and back. Beginning at Elm Street, this hike has minimal elevation gain en route to the campground at Happy Hill Shelter. Full of open fields interspersed with the forest, this is a great option for backpacking in the Fall when the leaves are spectacularly colored.

Cottonwood Heights, Utah: Willow Lake camping

There is so much to do in nature outside of Salt Lake City, that a trip to Utah is a perfect start for beginner backpackers. To start off your backpacking adventure as easily as possible, take the Willowhead trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon. This moderately steep trail is only 1 mile each way and drops you at the gorgeous Willow Lake. Camp at the lake surrounded by willow trees. In the summer, wildflowers are everywhere. In the spring and fall, you’ll find incredible foliage. There’s even a family of moose that live nearby.

Yellowstone National Park: Bechler Cave Falls Loop

Little compares to the natural beauty of Yellowstone National Park. With its size, there are endless backpacking opportunities for all skill levels and time frames. For beginners, the Bechler Cave Falls Loop, located near the southwest corner of the park, is a great option. Only seven miles and with basically no gain in elevation, even rookie hikers can tackle this trail. You’ll mostly walk through lodgepole pine forests with small streams. Keep your eyes out for bears and moose in this area.


Not sure which beginner backpacking trip to choose? Take a vote! Head over to Troupe and let your friends have a say on their favorite destination. You can also vote on dates and share your favorite ideas for other things to do at the destination. If you’re looking for a destination full of easy beginner hikes and camping opportunities, be sure to check out this Lake Tahoe itinerary.

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