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.

For more info about backpacking gear and trip planning, visit these posts:

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

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

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

North Cascades National Park: Cascade Pass

North Cascades - Cascade Pass backpacking trip

  • 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

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

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

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)