Panoramic Mountain Scenery Backpacking Destinations

All of these backpacking trips highlight panoramic views in the Pacific Northwest – including in the Olympics, North Cascades, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and the Wallowas.

These are the type of trips that most backpackers look forward to the most – mid to high elevation locations with epic views. The snow-free season is short, usually from July to September, and the scenery is some of the best that there is. All of these trips are good for three to four nights, but if you have more time, most of these areas offer longer trail options that cover more miles.

Featured Trips

Alpine Lakes Wilderness: Pete Lake & Spectacle Lake

Pete Lake and Spectacle Lake backpacing trip

Spectacle Lake is indeed a spectacle – surrounded by peaks in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This scenic lake is popular side trip for thru-hikers and section hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail.

  • I Heart PNW trip report: Spectacle Lake backpacking trip
  • distance & elevation gain to campsite: 10 miles, 2,260 ft. gain (for a shorter option, camp at Pete Lake before continuing to Spectacle Lake)
  • day hike options: explore the Spectacle Lake area
  • best months: July to September

Alpine Lakes Wilderness: Rachel & Rampart Lakes

Rampart Lakes backpacking trip

A challenging hike up a steep and rocky trail, Rampart Lakes is a collection of small lakes in a superbly scenic subalpine area in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Hike up Alta Mountain for panoramic views of peaks in every direction.

  • I Heart PNW trip report: Rampart Lakes backpacking trips
  • distance & elevation gain to campsite: 5.7 miles, 2,300 ft. gain (for a shorter option, camp at Rachel Lake before continuing to Rampart Lakes)
  • day hike options: Lila Lakes, Alta Mountain
  • best months: August – September (avoid July due to mosquitoes)

Eagle Cap Wilderness: Wallowas Lakes Basin

Wallowas - Glacier Lake hike

Deep in the heart of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, this trip to the Lakes Basin is scenery packed – with granite boulders and slabs, alpine lakes and meadows scattered throughout and surrounded by peaks. The Two Pan trailhead provides the most direct access into the Eagle Cap Wilderness with shorter mileage and less elevation gain than other options.

  • I Heart PNW trip plan: Wallowas Lakes Basin
  • distance & elevation gain to campsite: 7-8 miles with ~2,000 ft. gain (for a shorter option, camp at Lostine Meadows before continuing to the Lakes Basin)
  • day hike options: Lakes Basin loop, Eagle Cap summit, Glacier Lake
  • best months: mid-July to September

Goat Rocks: Snowgrass Flat & Goat Lake

Goat Rocks Wilderness backpacking trip

  • I Heart PNW trip report: Goat Rocks – Snowgrass Flat + Goat Lake
  • distance & elevation gain to campsite: 5.25 miles, 1,500 ft. gain
  • day hike options: Goat Lake, Old Snowy, Cispus Basin
  • best months: mid-July to September

The most popular area in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Snowgrass Flat features meadows full of wildflowers, an alpine lake that can still be covered in ice in August, and big views of the Goat Rocks peaks.

Goat Rocks: Pacific Crest Trail & Cispus Basin

Goat Rocks – Cispus Pass hike

One of the most scenic sections of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington travels through Goat Rocks. Hike in via the Snowgrass Trail and camp near the PCT, then hike to Old Snowy Mountain and Cispus Basin. It’s common to see quite a few thru-hikers here on their journey to Canada.

North Cascades National Park: Copper Ridge

North Cascades: Copper Ridge backpacking trip

Copper Ridge is one of the few high ridgelines in the North Cascades with access to trails and designated campsites. The scenery is incredible, with endless views of peaks in Washington and Canada.

  • I Heart PNW trip report: Copper Ridge backpacking trip
  • distance & elevation gain to Silesia campsite: 8.2 miles, 3,300 ft. gain (for a shorter option, stay at Boundary Camp before continuing to Silesia Camp)
  • day hike options: Copper Ridge Lookout, Copper Lake
  • best months: July to September

North Cascades National Park: Cascade Pass

North Cascades - Cascade Pass backpacking trip

Cascade Pass is a popular area for hiking and backpacking due to stunning scenery of glaciated mountains in the North Cascades. Advance permits are required and well worth the effort to obtain.

  • I Heart PNW trip report: Cascade Pass backpacking trip
  • distance & elevation gain to Pelton Basin campsite: 3.7 miles, 1,700 ft. gain, 600 ft. loss
  • day hike options: Sahale Arm
  • best months: July to September

Olympic National Park: High Divide & Seven Lakes Basin

Olympic Mountains High Divide backpacking trip

The highly scenic High Divide loop in the Olympic Mountains is extremely popular for a good reason – it showcases everything from a lush rainforest to subalpine lakes, and panoramic views of the highest peaks in the Olympics. Advance permits are required for all backcountry campsites.

  • I Heart PNW trip report: High Divide backpacking trip
  • distance & elevation gain to campsite in Seven Lakes Basin: 9.2 miles, 3,070 ft. gain (for a shorter hike in, there are many campsites on this loop)
  • day hike options: Seven Lakes Basin, Hoh Lake, Bogachiel Peak
  • best months: August to September

Olympic National Park: Royal Lake & Royal Basin

Olympic Mountains - Royal Basin backpacking trip

Royal Lake provides access to some of the best subalpine and alpine scenery in the Olympic Mountains. From Royal Lake, it’s a short hike to explore the stunning alpine scenery of Upper Royal Basin.

  • I Heart PNW trip report: Royal Basin backpacking trip
  • distance & elevation gain to campsite: 6.5 miles, 2,800 ft. gain (for a shorter option, camp at Royal Creek before continuing to Royal Lake)
  • day hike options: Upper Royal Basin
  • best months: mid-July to September

Olympic Peninsula: Marmot Pass via Big Quilcene River Trail

Big Quilcene Trail to Marmot Pass backpacking trip

On this four day backpacking trip, we hiked in to Camp Mystery to setup a basecamp and hiked each day to Marmot Pass and explored the area. The views from the pass are incredible, with most of the peaks in the Olympics filling the horizon.

  • I Heart PNW trip report: Marmot Pass backpacking trip
  • distance & elevation gain to campsite: 4.6 miles, 2,900 ft. gain
  • day hike options: Marmot Pass, Boulder Ridge, Buckhorn Mountain
  • best months: July – September

Related Posts:

I Heart Pacific Northwest is a participant in affiliate link programs through Amazon and Avantlink, which provides a small commission if a purchase is made through gear links on this site. This does not change the price of the item. I am not sponsored by any gear companies and the items listed here are owned by me and unless otherwise stated, are purchased with my own funds. My policy is to only link to products that I've used and would recommend. Thank you for supporting this blog!