Camping Guide: The Long Haul

Which Pacific Northwest Thru-Hike Is Right for You?

Stargazing and rattlesnakes? Or solitude and grizzlies? Take your pick!

By Benjamin Tepler May 22, 2018 Published in the June 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

0618 camping guide glacier national park potd2i

The Pacific Northwest Trail crosses through Glacier National Park.

Wonderland Trail

93 miles, circumnavigates Mount Rainier
Pro: Stupid-beautiful views of Rainier and what feels like all of Washington state.
Con: Easier to win Powerball than get a permit. Very crowded.

Oregon Coast Trail

382 miles, entire Oregon coastline
Pro: Technically hikeable year-round. Beach camping. Yurt-to-yurt glamping. Constant saltwater taffy access. 24/7 ocean wave soundscape.
Con: 70–80 inches of rain a year. Never really in wilderness. Constantly checking tide charts kind of like remembering to push the button in Lost.
Guidebook: Day Hiking Oregon Coast

Oregon Desert Trail

750 miles, Bend to Idaho border
Pro: Extreme solitude. Some of the best stargazing in the country. Otherworldly desert landscape.
Con: 10 percent trail, 50 percent dirt roads. Lack of water. Sun exposure. Rattlesnakes. Bemused ranchers. Must (practically) be leader of orienteering club to safely travel entirely unmarked route.

Pacific Northwest Trail

1,200 miles, Washington, Idaho, Montana
Pro: Three national parks and seven national forests, including Glacier (pictured) and Olympic. Long stretches of total solitude.
Con: Snow. Extremely strenuous bushwhacking, scrambling, and route-finding all required. Grizzly central.

Pacific Crest Trail

2,650 miles, California, Oregon, Washington
Pro: Hiking through the Sierras and North Cascades. Cheryl Strayed recommends, 10/10
Con: Snow depending on season/annual precipitation. Crowded in places.

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