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Wonderland Trail info
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Patrick Matte
(JPMatte) - M

Locale: N. Georgia
Wonderland Trail info on 08/20/2010 20:20:40 MDT Print View

Curious to hear your thoughts about it.What was your likes/dislikes about the trail? What was your trip time;length of,weather?What month? Also,what was your gear choices?Concerning the gear let me know what you would've done different since completing the trail.
Thank you

Dan Ransom
(carpeybiggs) - F

Locale: Wasatch
wonderland on 08/21/2010 12:19:26 MDT Print View

just finished the wonderland a couple weeks ago. i have mixed feelings...

likes? - long loop hike, some of the best mountain scenery in the lower 48, fun people.

dislikes? - permitted camping sites, TONS of people, doesn't really feel like wilderness, south side of mountain in general, and i HATED mowitch lake. don't camp there if possible, it's like dormitory housing for backpackers in tents. it sucks.

trip time was 8 days. we did a walk in permit though, so the timeframe was bizarre. if i did it again i'd try and reserve. best campsites are klapatche, indian bar, golden lakes, mystic lake, imo. id do the southside in one full day. where you start doesn't matter, but try to get from maple or nickle creek and out to the west side in one trip, or vice-versa. of course, this depends on how fast you walk. i found 10-15 miles a day to be completely doable and comfortable.

i carried a ULA circuit pack, cuben hexamid, montbell super spiral, neo air, and couple pounds of camera gear. it rained alot. i only carried hiking clothes and sleeping clothes, and probably would've carried an extra dry camp shirt. at some camps, alot of time was spent in camp.

trip photos are here -

Edited by carpeybiggs on 08/21/2010 12:22:25 MDT.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: wonderland on 08/21/2010 16:26:03 MDT Print View

I agree with Dan. Mowich sucks, luckily I started/ ended here so I didn't have to camp there. I didn't like Golden lakes- not bad just nothing to look at. Indian bar is awesome- summerland is cool. we hiked from devils dream to Longmire, stayed the night and hiked to maple creek (also cool). I think start at mowich, hike to golden lakes, or a little further. and then try to hike all the way to maple creek. I'd be two long days, but you'd skip the BS.

Take your time up the east side and north side... this is where the hike is, beauty-full!

Take Spray Park instead of the NW corner of the WT.

if you are in any sorta shape 15mile days are no prob. Trailrunners!!

We hiked last week of July / first week of AUG and the flowers were poppin. so were the mossys (devils dream is named for the mosquito) (not positive- but it has to be right)

I had: SMD Traveller (too big for me on this trip) TT Cloudburst, Marmot atom, C.Cone/ BPL 550, Short Neo,

We sent all out warm clothes home from Longmire ( the front desk lady actually drove it to the Post office for us SwEET!!) Caveat: it was record heat during our trip (106 in Portland)

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: wonderland on 08/22/2010 14:50:15 MDT Print View

Those are GREAT Flickr photos from your Wonderland trip, any (or all) of them could (should) have been on the BPL 2010 calendar. They certainly don't match with your comments.

terry a thompson
(terry588) - MLife

Locale: West
Re: Re: wonderland on 08/22/2010 16:34:56 MDT Print View

+1 to Tom's comments. what camera did you use?

Thanks for sharing,

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Wonderland Trail info on 08/22/2010 17:19:36 MDT Print View

We loved every minute of our 14 leisurely days on the Wonderland Trail (early Aug 2006). We mailed food to two cache points, Longmire and Mowich Lake. Definitely do Spray Park/Seattle Park. No problem with bugs or too many people, other than at major road crossings which we simply breezed through.

See my web site for many annotated trail and flower pictures.

We (five of us) used RayWay tarps with bug tents; RayWay 2-person quilt plus assorted lightweight bags; packs: Golite Speed and Trek, a Vapor Trail, a Gregory Z-pack, and a 3 lb Lowe pack; Merrell low-top light hikers; Therm-o-rest 1.5" pads.

These days we have some lighter weight pads, but otherwise we still use a lot of the same stuff (when something wears out we replace it with a lighter equivalent, but we can't afford to replace all that perfectly good stuff because something lighter appeared).

David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
2009 Wonderland on 08/22/2010 18:41:31 MDT Print View

I hiked the Wonderland Trail solo last summer beginning July 28 from White River Campground and finished on August 2nd. The weather was hot with one thunderstorm one afternoon. Other than the one storm, the weather was perfect.

I thought the trail was awesome, well marked though not really very wild with the exception of the west side. The views are fantastic and the flowers were incredible. I cannot think of any dislikes other than the difficulty in selecting appropriate camps without prior knowledge. I did get my first choice of camps on my reservation though if I do the trail again, I would cut out one day and do it in four nights and five days. The south side is the least scenic.

I stayed at Indian Bar, Paradise, South Puyallup, South Mowich and Mystic Lake. Mystic Lake itself is beautiful but the camp kind of sucks but again I selected my camps more based on mileage than anything else. Next time I might try to stay at Dick Creek, Klapatche and Summerland, though Indian Bar is a must stay IMHO.

I used a ULA pack that has now been replaced with the CDT. I also brought a one pound Montbell down bag and a Black Diamond One Shot. Next time I would go with a lighter pack, maybe a ULA Amp (no longer made), a Nunatak Quilt and a tarp with a large net. I was simply too hot in the tent every night except at Mystic Lake.

I met up with two women at Mystic Lake who had already put in 35 miles and were headed for Mowich Lake for the night! Definitely this is a trail that can be done in 18-20 mile chunks if you are packing light.

You can read my journal at:

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: 2009 Wonderland on 08/22/2010 19:15:22 MDT Print View

Dave, I waited out that thunderstorm in the Maple Creek campsite. Where were you? Also the next day when there was thunder during the early afternoon we waited in the Indian Bar shelter. Awesome!! That toilet is epic!

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Thoughts on the Wonderland Trail... on 08/22/2010 23:08:43 MDT Print View

Thoseare some great photos! Wow!

What's good about the Wonderland Trail? When the weather is cooperative, hiking the Wonderland ranks as a sublime experience. I agree that while not “true wilderness” it is nonetheless beautiful and is ideal for someone who wants a physical challenge without a tremendous amount of logistics.

I would categorize as a positive the controlled, permitted campsites along the Wonderland. Well, maybe not so good for those pursuing a solitary wilderness experience but good for the park itself. The mountain would be loved to death otherwise. The entire rationale for permitted campsites dates back to the era when you could camp anywhere. The results were none-too-pleasing. The meadows were overrun by throngs of backpackers and day hikers who were destroying the fragile habitat of the mountain. Mystic Lake is a prime example of an area that has really rebounded since they made this change.

The fact it is a loop makes it considerably easier to accomplish without a lot of additional logistics. One of the distinct advantages of the park is that you can cache your food at several locations along the trail. At most, you only have to carry three, maybe four days of food at most (depending upon your speed).

The NPS keep a percentage of sites along the Wonderland open for walk-ins, but if you want to have a more manageable schedule that allows you to pick where you want to camp, you must apply for a permit. I can’t emphasize this enough, this trail is quite popular. Information can be found here:

And here for the permit application itself

As to the number of people, Mt. Rainier is a destination National Park. It's proximity to Seattle makes it a day trip for many. Throngs of tourists visit. Plus, if you come in late July/August, you are at the height of the season, especially on a weekend. The season is short here - the Wonderland doesn't really open up until mid June at the earliest and this year there was quite a bit of snow on the trail through July. You have to deal with this. If you want to avoid crowds, plan your hike to avoid weekends spent in proximity to Sunrise, Paradise, Longmire, Summerland and Box Canyon. These areas are all popular.

Places I would definitely recommend camping:
Summerland - Get there early for choice camp sites. If you go back a ways into the campground, there are sites with especially nice views.

Indian Bar - If the weather is good, the hike between Summerland and Indian Bar is to be savored – a short day but one that demand you to take your time, scramble up to view points and enjoy the vistas. The group shelter here is excellent if you can get it reserved. If you take a regular site, I’d recommend avoiding staying near the river. By taking a spot high above the river and near the privy, you will be much warmer. The cold air from the mountain sinks into the valley, and combined with the river, make it wet and chilly.

Dick's Creek - A nice view plus breaks up a long climb to Mystic Lake. Although the campground at Mystic Lake isn’t terribly exciting (it’s in the woods), spending the evening by the lake and watching the sun set make Mystic Lake also a good selection.

Klapatche Park is a personal favorite – lovely campground on the west side. The west side is often referred to as the “wild side” of Mt. Rainier.

I would also recommend the Spray Park alternative. It’s quite scenic and a vast improvement over the traditional route. Camping at Mowich Lake is one place I’d avoid. Eagle’s Roost camp ground, which is in the trees on the way to Spray Park, is a better choice.

Finally, be advised that the Carbon River entrance completely changed several years ago. Flooding in 2006 wiped out the road that once traveled to the Ipsut Creek Campground. They converted the road into a rather wide trail, and it is five miles or so just to get to the Ipsuit Creek Campground from the ranger station. If you have an older book on Mt. Rainier, it might not reflect this status change.

What’s not so good? Well, when the weather turns, it can be very, very wet. Epic wet. And unfortunately, if it is quite wet, you can’t really see much of the mountain as you will spend a fair amount of time walking in the clouds. Keep in mind that August and September are generally the “dry” months in Washington. But it can rain, snow and get downright chilly. The mountain makes its own weather!

Other recommendations: If you choose to go slow or are with someone who loves the creature comforts, you might consider scheduling a night at the lodge at the Paradise Inn or an the National Park Inn at Longmire. The Paradise Inn is a bit of a climb off the traditional Wonderland Trail route (but can be incorporated as part of it without an issue). There is a small store at Longmire where you can buy beer and snacks. Although drinking too much and then immediately climbing toward Indian Henry’s Hunting ground is, from experience, not advised.

Have fun!


Dan Ransom
(carpeybiggs) - F

Locale: Wasatch
Panasonic GF1 on 08/23/2010 16:31:56 MDT Print View

Tom and Terry -

Thanks for the comments on the photos. I carried a m4/3 camera, the Panasonic GF1, with 7-14 and 14-45 lenses, and a gitzo 0 series tripod. It's a nice compromise between weight and focal lengths, for me.

To be fair, my comments might make it seem like the wonderland isn't great. That's not true, it is a phenomenal hike, hard to beat scenery. But, it's not a wilderness hike. That's all.

I forgot to mention as well, do the side hike up the ridge from St. Andrews lake to Tokaloo Rock. Best views of the entire trip, followed closely by emerald ridge and spray park.

Patrick Matte
(JPMatte) - M

Locale: N. Georgia
WT info on 08/23/2010 22:47:52 MDT Print View

Thank you all for all of your reply's.Great info and pics. Thanks again. I'm looking at next September for my trip.

David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
Thunderstorm Jeff on 08/27/2010 18:02:11 MDT Print View

I was under a tree at reflection lake (no reflection) during the storm. I agree on the toilet at Indian Bar. I visited with another backpacker who was surprised by a nice large bear whilst he sat on the throne! Might have helped the process.