Perfect 72 Hour Backcountry Adventure | Outside online

All it takes is a long weekend to get out of there, get lost and find yourself again. From Asheville to Seattle, we’ve researched the best 3-day wilderness trips within reach of a city.

We’d all love to disappear deep into the hinterland for weeks. But life (and the limited vacation time) has a way to prevent this from happening. Step into the glorious three-day weekend where 24 bonus hours can mean the difference between a quick car camping trip and a full wilderness adventure. Here are nine routes that maximize the fun in backcountry areas that feel light years away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but are still close enough to home to run thanks to that extra PTO day.

Enchantment Basin and Prusik Peak in autumn in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness (Photo: US Forest Service / Creative Commons)

Alpine lakes wilderness

Jump from: Seattle, Washington

Just an hour east of Emerald City, the 394,000 hectare Alpine Lakes Wilderness offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the Cascades – and that says a lot. With a postcard landscape sculpted by glaciers, dotted with freshwater lakes, dotted with granite peaks, and dotted with wildflowers, you’re going to get whiplash if you absorb it all 53.8 mile loop hike to Spectacle Lake (yes, he deserves the name), crosses the exposed Kendall Katwalk and on the way passes a parade of subalpine meadows and campsites by the lake. Mountaineers will have a (or three) field day, pro and peak bagging around the glacier-covered enchantments, which can be reached via approximately a 20-mile route between Stuart Lake and the Snow Lakes trailheads. Set up a car shuttle at one end or extend your thumb to ride the 8 miles back to where you started. Anglers have their choice of trout-rich riches along the West Fork Foss Lakes Trail, including the piercing blue waters of Big Heart Lake, about 11.3 miles away and with good backcountry camping on its north shore.

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