Top West Coast Trails

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*This post has been moved from another thread. Hello, I am in a similar situation. While I am not coming all the way from Europe, I will be traveling from the East Coast. I can rent a car, no problem. My question is this: if you were taking a vacation for the sole purpose of backpacking somewhere on the west coast (anywhere on the west coast), which trail would you do? The constraints being as follows: -One week trip, say 6 nights, 7 days max. -Anywhere from 6-12 miles per day depending on the terrain (I'm not a mountain massochist by any means). I can do 12 miles a day if there are not any big elevation changes, but I feel no shame in only doing 6 miles per day if there are significant elevation changes (anything more than 2000 ft. of elevation change per day is a lot in my book). -I suppose a loop would make things more convenient, but I wouldn't rule out any linear hike as long as I could arrange proper transportation. -Despite my wimpy pace of 6-12 miles per day, I am an experienced backpacker, have been on many trips, logged hundreds of miles, although only on the east coast. If there are any criteria that would help narrow the choices that I have forgotten, please let me know. This Lyman-Image Lake Loop caught my eye because it appears to be about the right length, but there may be better scenery on some other trails, better variety of terrain, better vistas. I gather that the PCT is the quintessential western trail... sort of the West Coast's answer to the Appalachian Trail, but I would have no idea what section would be the ideal stretch to hike. Many Thanks for any advice! -Ryan

We just returned from a six-day backpacking trip in Eastern Oregon's Eagle Cap Wilderness. It was stunningly beautiful. You could fly into LaGrande, Oregon and arrange transportation to the trailhead (about 90 minutes depending on where you start). The East Eagle-Imnaha Loop was gorgeous. I've posted pictures on this website, but for the full album go to: Also posted a video on flickr: And...for my detailed trip report: You can read about this hike on googlebooks: csC&printsec=frontcover&dq=backpacking+oregon#v=onepage&q=&f=false click on "contents" and scroll down and click on "East Eagle-Imnaha Loop" Another fantastic Oregon option would be to circumnavigate the Three Sisters Loop in Central Oregon. This trail description is also in Douglas Lorain's book, Backpacking Oregon.
I built a quick elevation profile for the loop trail. However, mileage is quite a bit short on this since it was taken from the TOPO program, and some of the mileage may be lost due to tracing switchbacks and other tracing errors. But it should give a rough idea of the elevations along the trail. >View Elevation Profile
Thank you for your reply. We have settled on the dates for our trip: Sept. 5-11. It's sort of last minute, but we will be booking our flights as soon as I finalize which trail we want to hike. I am all but convinced that the Lyman-Image Lake Loop is the right choice, but I'm a little concerned that we may bite off more than we can chew. For a 7 day trip, where the first and last days will be more like half-days, that implies a pace of about 8.5 miles per day (51.3 / 6). That's slightly on the strenuous side for us depending on the elevation changes. Are there any elevation graphs for this trail anywhere? It says that there is a total elevation gain of 9500 ft, but does that also mean that there's a total elevation loss of 9500 ft? I would feel a lot more comfortable if I had a better sense for how steep/gradual those elevation changes are. Any help will be much appreciated! Thanks!
Picking one trail along the west coast is a pretty tough task. The Lyman-Image Lake trip is probably one of the best on the west coast in my opinion, potentially high divide in the Olympics would be there as well. At somewhere around 90 miles, the Wonderland trail around Mt. Rainier is probably a little longer than what you're looking for, but the Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood, which is around 40 miles would be a good alternate. If the entire west coast is under consideration, certainly the Sierras would have numerous trails to consider.