Autumn Veatch, 16, was dehydrated and suffering from a type of treatable muscle tissue breakdown caused by vigorous exercise without food and water, but suffered no life-threatening injuries during her ordeal.
The fate of her step-grandparents, Leland and Sharon Bowman, who were also on board the small plane, remains unclear and a search for wreckage is continuing.
David Veatch, of Bellingham, Washington, said his daughter is exhausted but was able to joke with him about how they had watched survival shows together. He called her “just an amazing kid”.
Autumn — whose plane crashed in craggy, thickly-forested mountains — emerged from the wilderness after hiking “for a couple of days” and was picked up by a motorist who drove her to safety, authorities said.
Family members alerted authorities after the Beech A-35 failed to complete its flight from Kalispell, Montana, to Lynden, Washington, on Saturday afternoon.
Rescuers narrowed down a search area based on mobile phone data and typical flight patterns but there was no sign of the aircraft or its occupants until Autumn followed a trail to Highway 20, near the east entrance to North Cascades National Park.
A motorist picked her up and drove her almost 50km east to a general store in Mazama, where employees called emergency services.
The Aero Methow Rescue Service sent a paramedic team to check Autumn out before she was taken to hospital in Brewster for treatment of what appeared to be minor injuries.
Rescuers celebrated Autumn’s survival, but immediately returned their focus to finding the wreckage. Autumn’s father said his daughter told him the plane crashed and caught fire after flying into a bank of clouds.
She remained at the crash site for a day before she decided to hike down, eventually finding a trail leading to the trailhead on Highway 20.