Backpacking in North America
January 12, 2004 8:07 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are looking for a good get-away-from-everything backpacking location on the North American continent. We'd like a moderately challenging weeklong trail experience where we'd likely see more animals than people. I'm shopping around on national parks sites, looking at places like Tuktut Nogait, but do you have a recommendation for us? (Our most recent trips have been in Glacier, Isle Royale, and Kepler-NZ.)
posted by clever sheep to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you ever thought about hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail?
posted by anastasiav at 8:09 AM on January 12, 2004

Wow, looks like a deep link--thanks! I'll take a look in there. I'd thought Appalachian, yes, but was wondering if that might see a lot of traffic.
posted by clever sheep at 8:14 AM on January 12, 2004

Try the 100-mile wilderness in Maine. Last 100 miles of the AT. Baxter State Park/Mt. Kathadin is one of the most amazing places in the NE. You'll probably see more moose than people in that section, unlike the rest of the New England AT.

Also check out the Skyline Trail in Jasper, NP in Canada.
posted by bondcliff at 8:36 AM on January 12, 2004

Almost anywhere in Alaska. The Milepost won't help you pick a site, necessarily, but it will tell you how to get where you want to go. Watch out for bears and mosquitoes.
posted by mookieproof at 8:39 AM on January 12, 2004

If you want more animals than people, go to where the moose live... Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland.

They have a trek called the Long Range Traverse that is the most amazing thing ever. The beginning of the trek starts at the end of an inland fjord, there are waterfalls everywhere.

There are no trails, so navigation ability would be required.

The national park webpage is pretty useless these days, but a friend of mine wrote up our adventure from a few years ago. Be smarter than me, pants and a coat are not optional when crossing a mountain range... :)
posted by friedrice at 8:59 AM on January 12, 2004

If you haven't done the Superior Hiking Trail, there's a goldmine sitting in your back yard.
posted by COBRA! at 9:27 AM on January 12, 2004

How about Yosemite National Park. Not the valley [but that is cool] but the High Sierra and Tuolumne Meadows or the Hetch Hetchy. YOu can go for days without seeing anyone...even in the "Shoulder" seasons. Of course, during the summer it is packed, but the wilderness area [away from the valley] is rarely visited.
posted by plemeljr at 10:32 AM on January 12, 2004

Everyone should walk the West Coast Trail at least once in their lifetime. First-growth temperate rain forests have to be seen to be believed. It takes anywhere from 4 to 7 days depending on your speed (and the weather). By the end of the week you'll be all like: ", another whale. Eh, another 200'-tall tree."

There are many, many other worthwhile hikes in BC and Alberta. If you had a week or two, you could bag a couple really nice trails in the area. The Stein Valley is spectacular. The Joffre Lakes are worth a look...
posted by bonehead at 10:44 AM on January 12, 2004

In sticking to National Parks -- typically thronged with humans -- you're missing out on USDA Forest Service land, which encompasses some of the most beautiful regions of the US. Trails and access vary wildly from region to region and forest to forest, but you should be able to find the sort of experience you're looking for.
posted by majick at 12:52 PM on January 12, 2004

For a different getaway, including hiking with a canoe on your shoulders, check out the Boundary Waters. Seeing that you're from Minneapolis, you've probably been there.

For all the other MeFites, it takes a solid day to paddle into the BWCA backcountry. There, you're more likely to paddle by a moose than a man.

Or the Joshua Tree backcountry. Wildlife is of a different sort there. It is probably the most serene place I've experienced.

Water or no water. Pick your poison.
posted by pedantic at 1:13 PM on January 12, 2004

Big Bend, Texas. It's the kind of place most people don't go. There is nothing else around and it's a long way to get there and once your there, it's the end of the road. Across the river in Mexico is one of the most remote regions in North and Central America. But it is incredibly beautiful, big and it is a NP so you have resources to base from. It's also a desert environment which is very diffrent from your other trips and would probably be a real change of pace, it is not all boring if you like nature.
posted by stbalbach at 3:59 PM on January 12, 2004

Isle Royale in Lake Superior is a moderate sized chain of islands with some gorgeous scenery, some very remote areas, and interesting wildlife. Unlike the AT, the only real predators you need to worry about are wolves and foxes. The wolves hate people, and the rangers rarely see them, let alone the campers. You can only get there via boat or sea plane. At the one big harbor, there are a few cabins with housekeeping which is a nice place to stay on your last day to reacclimate to civilization. Last time I was there, there were no on-island motor vehicles. You get around by boat or by foot.
posted by plinth at 4:57 PM on January 12, 2004

The longer version of the West Coast Trail is the Pacific Coast Trail, and covers the mountain ranges of the Pacific.

While we're talking about obscure federal agencies, let's not forget the Bureau of Land Management and its millions of acres of land, primarily in the West.
posted by calwatch at 9:07 PM on January 12, 2004

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