There are a lot of good experiences and lessons you can get from a solo backpacking trip. Getting to know nature a little better, making some friends along the way, learning survival skills, and coming home with good stories is worthwhile.
It can be lonely to explore alone, but there is beauty in isolation. If you’re planning to go hiking, camping, or backpacking on your own, this guide shows some tips on how you can find solitude.
Go to Less Popular Parks or the Wilderness
You need to understand just how heavily concentrated most backcountry use is in the most popular parks. For instance, the annual number of John Muir Trail backpackers starting in Yosemite doubled from about 1,000 in 2006 to about 2,000 in 2009, and nearly doubled again to around 3,500 by 2016, before leveling out. The Mount Rainier National Park received around 800 applications every March until 2013 and jumped to 2,000 in 2014, over 2,700 in 2015, and 5,900 in 2017. You won’t find solitude in these places.
You can also aim for federal wilderness which is just as nice as national parks. However, note that they have no red tape, renown, and crowds.
Instead of using boots, go for a paddle to find more solitude. Approximately 1 million people flock to the Everglades annually to see alligators, snapping turtles, osprey, storks, spoonbills, and bald eagles, but you can get away from the crowd with boating! You can try the Hell’s Bay Canoe Trail, which twists and turns through tunnels of mangroves that deter motor boats. It has alligators, swallow-tail kites, and a dolphin on her last trip there.
Go Outside the Peak Season
This is a common yet very effective strategy for finding solitude when backpacking. In the mountains, good weather persists into autumn, whereas while backcountry use tends to tail off sharply after Labor Day. September could be the best month in Western mountains and have almost always encountered mild, dry days, cool but not frigid night when you want to find solitude in backpacking, In the Southwest, late winter or early spring is when moderate temperatures often arrive, and the fall season extends to November.
Upgrade Your Map
Some parks have trail systems that are more convenient to navigate. These lull hikers into using a rudimentary map or none at all. Using these will let you miss out on terrain and trail secrets only visible on good maps and USGS quads. For instance, at Loyalsock State Forest, the map in the visitor center involves all the major and minor trails so you can veer off the high-traffic routes yet still hit all the highlights. You can go to the quiet Lee’s and Rode Falls by starting at Bark Shed trailhead and following the Ketchum Run Trail 1 mile to the Loyalsock Trail. Then, you can hike another .8 mile east then northwest to 15-foot Lee’s Falls, and another .8 to the pools and cliffs of Rode Falls, located in a horseshoe-shaped hollow.
Go Far from Big Cities
Visit largely rural states where the biggest city is much smaller than the major cities in other stats. They offer many mountain ranges and canyons visited by few other people simply because there aren’t very many people who live within a half-day’s drive of these places. Avoid parks like Yosemite, Sequoia, Mount Rainier, Great Smoky Mountains, Everglades, Grand Canyon, and others that are weekend trip spots.
Some national parks with five-star scenery that are prime examples of this tip and/or the previous one are North Cascades, Capitol Reef, and the southern Olympic coast.