If you love the outdoors and you have some vacation time coming your way, you should plan one of these awesome backpacking trips with your family. Whether you're a hard core, nature loving, experienced backpacker or you're more of a recreational trail enthusiast, there's a backpacking adventure out there that's perfect for your skill level and needs. Just make sure that you stick to clearly marked paths and follow all local laws and safety regulations, and you'll be sure to have the time of your life.
If you're looking for a backpacking experience that is life changing but not necessarily life threatening, plan a trip down the Grand Canyon National Park's Bright Angel Trail. The Bright Angel Trail is the Canyon's only trail out of 15 that is perfectly appropriate for people who have never backpacked in their lives. This trail is dotted with ranger stations for your safety, water stops for your comfort, and lots of shady trees and overhangs. Though this trail is, literally, a walk in the park, you'll need to prepare by staying very hydrated. The Grand Canyon can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, so drink plenty of water.
The 2,650 mile long Pacific Crest Trail has long been a favorite amongst California's nature loving hippies. This trail passes through several different eco systems, including beach, dessert, arctic alpine, and you'll even spot volcanoes and mountain lakes. If you want to hike the entire trail, be prepared to spend nearly a year on your adventure. You'll meet all sorts of people and you can expect the trails to be pretty crowded. If a year long backpacking trip isn't on your schedule in the near future, give the Oregon leg of the trail a go. This leg is level and will take you past lush forests and clear streams.
The Appalachian Trail is the big goal of most American backpacking enthusiasts, stretching 2,180 miles from Georgia all the way to Maine. If you want to hike the entire trail, you can expect to do so in about six months. If you don't have six months, though, Maine's 100 Mile Wilderness Trail is an excellent stretch to choose. This section of the Trail doesn't intersect with a single paved road.
If you are on the hunt for a backpacking trip for serious, experienced backpackers who are in excellent shape, hike the Highline Trail through Utah's Uinta Mountain Range. This trail is only 75 miles long, but the rocky terrain, steep slopes, and high altitude mean that you should set aside at least a week for the trip. This hike is almost more like a mountain climb in places and ranges from 11,000 to 12,600 feet in elevation.
If you've already conquered the Highline Trail, test your skills on the Continental Divide Trail. This trail intersects the middle of the United States and reaches 3,100 miles. Hikers on the Continental Divide Trail regularly face hypothermia and altitude sickness, since parts of the trail are covered in ice and snow throughout the year and the trail reaches 14,270 feet in altitude.