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A Beginner's Guide To Wilderness and Backcountry Hiking Prep

From the National Park Foundation

Stewardship Monday, July 3, 2023

From the Appalachian Trail in the East, to the Pacific Crest Trail in the West, and countless miles in-between, some of the best backcountry hiking destinations in North America are accessible in our national parks.

Going out for a hike can mean just a few hours outside or a multi-day adventure. If you’re ready to graduate from day-hikes to overnight backpacking trips, make sure to prepare before leaving the crowds behind and heading deep into the wilderness and backcountry.

Planning ahead

When you head off into the wilderness or backcountry without a plan, anything can happen, and not all of it good. Doing your homework can save you from life-threatening situations, especially for novices.

  • Visit the National Park Service websites for trails and hiking, and wilderness and backcountry camping.
  • Request the proper permit. Check the park’s page on to see if the park requires one.
  • Obtain detailed maps of trails you plan to hike. Locate campsites and water sources on the map and plan accordingly. Expect to cover 5 to 10 miles a day, depending on the terrain.

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