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The Wonderland Trail
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
The Wonderland Trail on 10/22/2013 19:49:28 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

The Wonderland Trail

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: The Wonderland Trail on 10/22/2013 21:01:36 MDT Print View

I should have done that hike while living in WA.

David Neumann
(idahomtman) - M

Locale: Northern Idaho
One of the great hikes on 10/23/2013 10:53:29 MDT Print View

I was fortunate to thru-hike the Wonderland in 2009. I took five days and I have to agree that it is quite simply stunning in every way and definitely worth the effort. Having done it once, I have a better idea of the "best" campsites but there really aren't any bad campsites. Go light but bring rain gear. Great pictures.

Joshua Welbaum

Locale: Northwest
Re: The Wonderland Trail on 10/23/2013 11:08:19 MDT Print View

I did this last year and got nothing but sunshine... Tried again this year and had 30 minutes of it... Come ready for serious rain, and an amazing adventure. One of the best places.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: The Wonderland Trail on 10/23/2013 12:43:10 MDT Print View

Nice report. We had a great day hike from Lake Mowich to the Tolmie Peak lookout in early September ( In fact, my current avatar was taken from the lookout. There are some snowshoe trips possible as a winter option too:

The reservation system for the WT can be complex, but it keeps the traffic down and improves the experience. It is possible to get walk-up permits, but it is a dice roll. Also, keep in mind that sections of the trail are often snowbound into July.

Edited by dwambaugh on 10/23/2013 12:44:30 MDT.

James Schifferns
(schifferj) - M
Food Stashes on 10/23/2013 17:41:55 MDT Print View

I've heard that the rangers will stash your food at various campsites - true, not true?

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
bucket list on 10/23/2013 18:35:38 MDT Print View


it's on my bucket list for either a two or three day run/hike- looks absolutely gorgeous!

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: The Wonderland Trail on 10/23/2013 19:11:39 MDT Print View

Some years back you could mail (USPS) food boxes to some of the ranger stations near the trail. I recall we mailed large boxes (there were five of us) to Mowich and Longmire (we started at White River. I imagine you still can. I don't think the rangers will carry food to a backcountry campsite, though.

We took 13 nights to do the trail and enjoyed every last minute, so far it has been the highlight of our backpacking life.

So what that we had a five mile day once and rarely hiked more than 8 or 9 miles (lots of elevation gain/loss, so that's harder than you might think). This gave us lots of time to enjoy the spectacular scenery, lounge at our campsites, write in journals, go birdwatching, take over 1000 photographs, cook fancier meals, eat leisurely, contemplate our navels, whatever.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: RE: The Wonderland Trail on 10/23/2013 21:21:44 MDT Print View

The food cache sites are Longmire, Mowich Lake, Sunrise Visitor Center, and White River Ranger Station.

From the horse's mouth:

You have to catch Longmire when it's open so make sure you time it right if you pick up your food there.

There's a food box at Mowich Lake. The box fills up quick and they don't like to drop your bucket off there until right before you are supposed to pick it up. The Carbon River Ranger Station is responsible for this food box so make sure you stay in constant contact with them to let them know when you intend to pick it up. It should be marked on your bucket when you mail it so this is more directed at those who have to reschedule their hike (like I did) or mail it in anticipation of getting a walk up permit.

Sunrise is a popular food cache because they have a cafeteria and it's a great place to grab a burger. The only problem is that like Mowich, the box fills up quick so they keep the overflow in the ranger's office which is below the snack bar. I won't bore you with the details but I had to reschedule my hike. Even though I called them in advance and the rangers at Longmire assured me that my food bucket would be available in the box, it wasn't. The ranger's office is only used on a as needed basis and was empty when I tried to retrieve my bucket. There was plenty of food in the hungry hikers box if I would have needed it. I was fortunate that there was a ranger making an unscheduled stop who was able to get my bucket.

White River campground is a couple miles downhill from Sunrise. They have a staffed ranger station there so there's a really good chance that you can talk to NPS staff if you don't find your bucket in the food box. I'm going to use this for my cache site next year instead of Sunrise.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 10/23/2013 22:52:24 MDT.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
The Wonderland Trail Maps on 10/23/2013 21:39:55 MDT Print View

I always carry a map even though this trail is well marked. For like minded individuals....

The two more popular maps I found for the Wonderland was the Nat Geo and Green Trails.

I used the Green Trails map on my first section hike and found that there were some major data errors on the map. Mostly it was point to point mileage which you can figure out the mistake by measuring it yourself. The errors we found were off by a few miles so if you choose to use this map, ignore the mileage data on it. I've also heard that the grid coordinates on this map are marked incorrectly but I can't confirm this as I didn't make any comparisons between the Green Trails map and Caltopo or a GPS. This is obviously a problem for SAR but if you don't need to plot a coordinate, and I don't know why you would, the map is otherwise fine.

I used the 1:55k Nat Geo map on my second section hike of the Wonderland. All of the rangers I met use it and it worked fine for me. I downloaded the Caltopo map for pretty much all of Rainier NP into Gaia. Whenever I needed more detail than was on the map, I would zoom in on my phone on the area in question.

Truth be told, I don't recommend forgoing a map on general principle but if you get lost on the Wonderland.... well Darwin Award comes to mind. Frequent map checks are just something I do not unlike a nervous twitch.

Edit to add: The rangers provided me with a copy of the Wonderland Trail's elevation profile. If you buy Asar's book Hiking the Wonderland Trail (discussed in another response below), you can copy it from the book as well on the off chance the rangers don't have a copy available when you start your hike.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 10/23/2013 22:37:42 MDT.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
The Wonderland Trail Books and Video on 10/23/2013 22:32:45 MDT Print View

I recommend the following books and videos for those who like to research their hikes.

Hiking the Wonderland Trail
Author: Tami Asars
Published 2012
ISBN# 9781594856549

.Hiking the Wonderland

Chapter 1 covers weather conditions, bears, rodents, etc.
Chapter 2 covers permits, food/fuel caching, and other topics like LNT that most BPLers should be knowledgable of
Chapter 3 discusses start points and alternate routes

The next four chapters will explain trail conditions as if you are starting at Longmire and hiking in a clockwise direction
Chapter 4 west side
Chapter 5 north side
Chapter 6 east side
Chapter 7 south side

Chapter 8 covers section hiking the Wonderland and hiking the northern and eastside loops.

Appendixes covers possible itineraries, camp to camp elevation gains and losses (carried a copy with me on the trail), camps, and resources.


Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail
Author: Bette Filley
Published 1998
ISBN# 1880405091

There's a lot of overlap between both of these books but I'd recommend reading both of them. Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail has some nice information about the variety of volcanic ash and soil you will encounter and a cliffs notes rundown on the geology surrounding Rainier.

.Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail


Willis Wall Media (aka Steve Burgess)

Steve Burgess is not only a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador, a Wonderland Trail subject matter expert, but he is a BPL member as well. The quality of his videos are excellent and well worth the low price.

.Willis Wall

Edited by IDBLOOM on 10/23/2013 22:34:33 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
resources on 10/24/2013 07:18:20 MDT Print View

^ thanks for the resources!

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Wonderland Trail on 10/24/2013 23:13:12 MDT Print View

I did the Wonderland Trail in mid-September of this year with a couple of fellow BPLers. We did it in 6 days, starting at Mowich Lake and caching food at Longmire and White River. The food caching went smoothly and was awesome, my pack never topped 15 pounds including consumables and a liter of water. A good thing too, it was pretty physically demanding. We had warm sunny weather, rain, hail, and snow, with temps from the upper 70's to the 20's. The gear, wisdom and tips I have picked up here at BPL really helped make it a safe and comfortable experience. My fellow BPL partners were inspirational, supportive and helpful.

Coin Page
(Page0018) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern USA
Best Wonderland Trail Campsites? on 10/27/2013 21:21:57 MDT Print View

David and all.

You mentioned having "a better idea of the 'best' campsites" now that you've done it once. Would you be willing to share your thoughts on the "best" campsites on the Wonderland Trail?

I'm hoping to hike the Wonderland Trail with my son next summer. Where would you have liked to have a layover day? Do any of the campsites have trees to pitch a rain tarp with?

Ian, thanks for the resource recommendations. I'll get them


Edited by Page0018 on 10/27/2013 21:26:47 MDT.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"The Wonderland Trail" on 10/27/2013 21:37:17 MDT Print View

Good campsites: Mystic Lake; but here's the deal. You can go just past the lake and camp on a ridge overlooking a's truly spectacular, fronting the mountain. The only thing is, there's a lot of rock/icefall going on. It's not dangerous at all, but the sound is a bit unsettling. I didn't camp there myself but wish that I had after seeing the site. It's limited and sort of kept under wraps; you might have to ask about it.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: "The Wonderland Trail" on 10/27/2013 21:51:13 MDT Print View

Summerland and Indian Bar are pretty awesome but I didn't camp there.

Devils Dream is pretty notorious for mosquitos so I'd pass on this one if you could; it was raining pretty hard when we hiked through there so I didn't have to deal with them. Campsites are pretty much on the trail.

Some people pooh pooh N. Puyallup but I thought it was nice. My only gripe is that the privies are on the other side of the river and about a 5+ minute walk. Not a big deal but there were TP flowers in the woods not too far from the individual campsites.

Klaptche Park looked nice from what I could see of it as we hiked through. Visibility was poor but I suspect that there are great views when there are blue skies.

Nickel Creek is fine but nothing special.

White River is also a car campground. Porcelain toilets and potable water from the spigot is a nice treat.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: "The Wonderland Trail" on 10/28/2013 10:37:59 MDT Print View

"Do any of the campsites have trees to pitch a rain tarp with?"

I've only camped at 5 of the campsites and walked through a few others. Trees were plentiful and I doubt you'd have problems hanging a tarp.

I keep hearing rumors that you aren't supposed to tie anything to a tree at Rainier NP (which is why I didn't go the hammock route) but I saw people tying tarps to trees; I've yet to see an official policy on this.

Coin Page
(Page0018) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern USA
Campsite advice on 10/29/2013 16:30:09 MDT Print View

Thanks for the feedback and advice.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
transportation options? "The Wonderland Trail" on 10/29/2013 17:48:54 MDT Print View

Are there any public transportation options available between seatac and the park?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
The Wonderland Trail on 10/29/2013 18:40:50 MDT Print View

"Are there any public transportation options available between seatac and the park?"

You fly into Seatac Airport and rent a car. As with most US national parks, there is no public transport to the park. Gray Line runs tours to the park but they no longer accept hikers (per their website). Evidently the tour guests are put off by hiker aroma? :-)

You could check airline shuttles to see if any will take you to Ashford, just outside the park. That might be more expensive than a week's car rental!

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/29/2013 18:46:58 MDT.