by Diane Spicer
Backcountry hiking implies that there is a thing called front country hiking.
Or "front country", if you prefer.
And that's true.
Here's my understanding of the difference between these two very different hiking destinations.
See if you agree.
By definition, as a backcountry hiker, you are leaving the front country - where the busy, popular trails and hordes of casual hikers exist.
Front = crowded, frequently visited, well known hiking destinations.
There are many ways to step away from the ant trail of established hiking routes and get into backcountry and wilderness hiking territory:
Or you can just melt into the backcountry as a solo hiker.
There are as many reasons for relishing this less popular type of hiking as there are back country hikers.
I can only share why I do it, and give you a few resources to explore.
For me, the real adventure of hiking lies in destinations that not everyone is willing or able to access.
There are vast areas of North America that go unvisited every year.
The Grand Canyon and other U.S. National Parks such as Yellowstone come to mind.
But thoughtful planning will allow you to spend days, and nights, surrounded by only a few family members:
While this is not true wilderness exploration, it can certainly feel like it if you stay out there for a few days! Nature immersion is a fantastic reason for backcountry hiking.
Infrequently visited (a.k.a. "less popular") hiking destinations offer solitude, adventure, and challenges in abundance.
Imagine the thrill of grunting and sweating your way to a viewpoint, knowing that what you are looking at doesn't have roads, buildings or human footprints, let alone a name on a map.
And if it's unscripted adventure you're looking for, try Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Alaska).
Or a combined raft/hike trip on the Alsek River (Yukon & Alaska).
One thing is for sure:
Don't try remote hiking without extensive preparation and a deep set of outdoor skills.
If you're a beginner hiker, go with someone/group that is willing to keep you safe in the back country.
At the very least, you need to be able to do these things:
Leave No Trace Hiking principles should guide your every action, as you plan and enjoy your backcountry trip.
All of the best hiking tips and techniques I cover on this website will serve you well in the remote areas you yearn to explore.
So please feel free to explore here before you set off on an exploration of terrain that nobody else goes to!
It's worth every ounce of preparation and planning, once you get a taste of the wild freedom of what I love to call "off the leash" hiking.
For a free backcountry gear list to get you started on your planning, use mine from a Wrangell St Elias hiking adventure.