Hiking & Backpacking

Hiking & Backpacking

Travel on trails to lakes, peaks, rivers, and forests in the Pacific Northwest.

Day Hikes and Backpacks have no prerequisites and are a great way to introduce yourself to The Mountaineers. Please note that trips that are more strenuous or involved may require the leader's permission to register. Make sure to check mileage, elevation gain, pace and leader's notes to ensure the trip is a good fit for you. And remember, all hikes and backpacks require participants to carry  The Ten Essentials!

Day Hiking

Trips walking on an established and maintained trail that are done in a day.

  • Easy: Up to 8 miles round trip, with up to 1,200 feet of elevation gain.
  • Moderate: Up to 12 miles round trip, with 1,200-2,500 feet of elevation gain.
  • Strenuous: Up to 14 mile round trip, with 2,500-3,500 feet of elevation gain.
  • Very Strenuous: Over 14 miles round trip and/or more than 3,500 feet of elevation gain.

Leaders often list pace by "distance speed" (2 miles per hour) or by "elevation speed" (1000 vertical feet per hour). Some of our day hikes mention that they are "conditioners." This type of hike is set up to prepare experienced hikers for longer hikes, backpacks, scrambles, and climbs. They are often fast-paced, or participants are free to go at their own pace and meet up with a group at the summit or other junction. Conditioners typically have a significant elevation gain, and participants may choose to carry extra training weight to prepare for heavier loads later in the season.


Trips walking on an established and maintained trail involving at least one overnight stay in the wild. Difficulty ratings are based on an average day of the trip using the Day Hiking Difficulties above.

Leader Rating

In addition to the difficulty rating, a Leader Rating is specified for each activity. This provides the leader with a way to modify the baseline route difficulty based on specifics of how they will lead the trip. The following are examples of criteria a leader may consider in setting the Leader Rating. Please note that the "average pace" includes rest breaks, but not a longer stop for lunch.

  • Casual: Average pace under 1 mile per hour, with no technical challenges or specific skills required.
  • Easy: Average pace of 1-1.5 miles per hour, with no technical challenges or specific skills required.
  • Moderate: Average pace of 1.5-2 miles per hour OR some route challenges (rough trail, log crossings, steep terrain) OR an easy route with an overnight pack.
  • Challenging: Average pace of greater than 2 miles per hour OR significant route challenges or specific skills required (fixed ropes, very rugged terrain, steep scree descents, snow or ice crossings, carrying water to a dry camp) OR a moderate route with an overnight pack.

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