Feb 11, 2012 at 11:20 am #1285539
Planning a backpacking trip with my son. We aren't newbies nor are we grizzled veterans. He will be graduating high school this year and we need one good backpack trip before I lose him to college and adult life. We are in the Chicago area which is in a backpacking desert. We are looking at possibly Land between the Lakes North/South trail just south of Paducah or Sheltowee Trace just east of Lexington, Kentucky. We are looking at a hike of most of a week. We anticipate in the neighborhood of 15 miles a day. We aren't in a hurry nor do we want grass to grow under our feet. A fairly wild trail with camp anywhere type regs is what we would prefer. I'd love some feed back on Land between the Lakes and Sheltowee Trace. Suggestions of other trails are also welcome.
JohnFeb 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm #1838057
I am in Kentucky and regularly pass through the land between the lakes area. Honestly its fairly flat and a little bland. For backpacking in my area, I would reccomend you go further east. Red River Gorge near Lexington is nice. Big South Fork is a bit nicer. My advice would be to go as far as the TN/NC border or into VA. There are so many great options if you go that far. I think you'll like it a lot better. Or you could head west to Co. I did that last summer with my 16 yo and really had a great time. What time of year are you going?Feb 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm #1838065
We are looking at probably heading out just after graduation at the end of the school year. That lead me to head south from Chicago area as it's still potentially chilly to our north.
johnFeb 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm #1838069
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Might be chilly in Colorado (depends on where you are) but it will be fine in the Appalachian Mountains. I would be concerned that Land Between the Lakes would be pretty warm that time of year. I haven't hiked there but I've been through the area several times. Its okay but if you have time I'd go a bit farther.
Edit – I just checked its about 11-12 hours from Chicago to Damascus, VA. You could jump on the AT and have some great hiking there. Going straght east to PA might actually be a bit quicker depending on where you go. I don't know PA real well but I think it would be less mountainous than the AT but more scenic than Kentucky (and probably cooler).Feb 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm #1838117
The weather here in May is really pretty nice. I wouldn't let that stop me from coming to KY. I agree Co is probably a bit cool then. I'm just afraid you might be a bit underwhelmed by lbl. I think you'd like lots of options between the Smokies to Roan Highlands to Mt Rogers. Its a little more driving but worth itFeb 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm #1838143
For your last big trip I don't know I'd do either LBL or ST. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to hike much in the area yet, but there aren't a whole lot of choices as you say in this portion of the Midwest for week-long treks. I did this map for a Scouting project. Links to all the state and national forests where you can find info on trails.
Unless you don't have the gear, I wouldn't worry about going north. Seems like lots of decent areas in the UP. Record low for Isle Royale in June is 28. May be too late to plan a trip there, but shouldn't be much chance of any snow unlike the Rockies.
If you prefer warmer, perhaps the Ozark Trail. It appears you're not concerned about a shuttle. My other suggestions in order of distance would be Red River Gorge, Big South Fork, Smokies (but designated sites so you could AT near there) or Dolly Sods/New River Gorge.
I'd recommend you give your son a budget and set him loose on planning where he's like to take his dad. :)Feb 11, 2012 at 4:10 pm #1838145
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
The Ozarks should be nice but I don't think they're any closer than the Mt. Rogers area and other areas in the Appalachians that are nicer. That should be about a 12 hour drive or about 4 more than the LBTL. Mt. Rogers has open topped 5000 ft. mountains, wild ponies, pleasantly cool weather, and the flowers might be in bloom at that time in which case it will be even more beautiful than it normally is.Feb 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm #1838518
@whiskeyLocale: Middle Tennessee
LBL would be a disappointing hike, IMO. I live close, so we hike there often for training, but it doesn't compare to the mountains in east TN.Feb 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm #1838590
Ozarks are definitely closer by several hours. I'm 3 hours south of the OP. I'd agree the Appalachians would be nicer though.Feb 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm #1839095
Ok, after a discussion with my hiking companion(soon to graduate high school), I've discovered that the Ozarks are our destination. We've driven thru them alot but he's never got to hike them. So I'm thinking Ozark Trail. I can catch it just north of Rolla, Mo. Any suggestions on the best sections to hike? We are looking at several days and would like to cover some ground, but cool scenery would be nice too.
JohnFeb 13, 2012 at 6:47 pm #1839100
You might put a new thread in the pre-trip planning forum. I think I saw someone else there asking about the OT recently.Feb 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm #1839136
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