Late September Western US Backpack Trip

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Home Forums Campfire Trip Planning Late September Western US Backpack Trip

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  • #3726178
    BPL Member


    Our group is planning a late September backpack trip to the western US. We originally intended a 5-night/6-day trip to the Trinity Alps; however due to fires in that area (and heavy smoke over northern CA), we’re looking at other options. Group of 3, we’d prefer to do a mountain route if possible, rather than desert or canyon. Hoping to avoid early snow and heavy smoke. We’ve been monitoring the western US smoke map:

    The areas we’re considering are: (1) Pecos Wilderness in Sangre de Cristo Range of northern New Mexico; (2) Ruby Range in eastern Nevada; (3) Pasayten Wilderness or Entiat Mountains, on  eastern side of Northern Cascades.

    Any thoughts on these areas for a late September backpack, and our chances of avoiding early snow, and hopefully avoiding heavy smoke? Any other areas we should consider?

    Thanks for your feedback!

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    I do trips in late September in north Oregon/south washington cascades.  Snow unusual but it can rain a lot and make trip unpleasant. Look at weather reports.

    Mt Hood seems to be better smoke wise.  Maybe Mt Adams or Goat Rocks.

    Glacier Peak or Mt Baker look pretty good but I’m not so familiar with them

    I just noticed the Swift Creek are in Trinity Alps has a large fire.  Nice area.  I hope it survives.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Glacier Peak area in Wa. is gorgeous and thrilling. However, there’s lots of smoke in parts of Wa. too. Pasayten is nice too. There’s a loop in Glacier out of Holden on lake Chelan that might fit your 6 day time frame. Or you can approach other routes on a road just north of Wenatchee, on the route to Lake Chelan.

    lisa r
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western OR

    I wouldn’t bet on Pasayten or Entiat area. There’s still time for those very-fire prone areas to burn this year and multiple fires have been burning around the edges as well as up in BC to the north. At the very least, I think smoke would be a real possibility…

    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Alaska

    I have not done the Pecos in September but I used to do it early in the Spring. Given that it’s so far south its probably about as safe as anything in September. Should be a nice time, aspens should be out, the tundra will have some color. If it did snow you could bail to a lower elevation area.

    Have you considered Yellowstone? It should be fine in September and less crowded (I assume)

    Mark Wetherington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Montana

    I was in the Pasayten in late September in 2018 and it was a great trip, the larch were turning color and were magnificent and the weather was great during the 5 days I was there, aside from the first night with cold rain that turned to snow overnight.

    I’d also suggest hiking along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in late September — great hot springs to soak in and cool scenery, and not very crowded since the river is too low by then for most rafting along its length.


    John “Jay” Menna
    BPL Member


    Locale: 30.3668397,-97.7399123

    The Gila?

    BPL Member


    Locale: Western US

    The Gila?

    The Gila is usually easily doable in September (though watch for late monsoon storms), but the OP wanted mountains, so thinking more alpine (I’d say the Gila is more arid/canyon)..

    The Pecos in more northern NM (east of Santa Fe) is pretty nice.

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