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  • Writer's pictureTina McLain

Wonderland Trail

Updated: Apr 29

A 93 mile trail that circumnavigates Mt Rainier in Mount Rainier National Park.



Trail: Wonderland Trail

Distance: 93 miles

Elevation Range: 2450′ to 6726′

Ascent/Descent: +22500 ft / -22500 ft


The Wonderland Trail circles Mt Rainer in Washington state. It can be done as a thruhike or section hike. There is a lottery system for permits and those are required to camp along the trail. One thing to note is with the permits behind a lottery system if you get a permit you just go with what you get which means odd days of long miles and short miles.


Explore by section:


Section 1 (2020) - Longmire to Mowich Lake


Total Distance: 34.6 miles Number of Days: 4 days Campsites: South Puyallup River, North Puyallup River, South Mowich River Dates: July 21 – 24, 2020


I originally planned on doing it as a thruhike, but I decided once I was on the trail to approach it in a way that works best for my body and not just trying to finish it just to say I did it. I ended up doing one section of trail from Longmire to Mowich Lake. So over the next few years my goal is to finish the Wonderland Trail.

Day 1 - Longmire to South Puyallup River


Indian Henry Patrol Cabin

Daily Distance: 12.8 miles Elevation Range: 2823' to 5643' Ascent/Descent: +4496 ft / -3137 ft Sunrise/Sunset: 5:35 am / 8:51 pm Camp: South Puyallup River Camp Water: Get water before camp. No water near. Start time: 7:55 am (Longmire) End time: 6:50 pm (Camp) Points of interest: Indian Henry Patrol Cabin & Emerald Ridge Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2020


I was feeling excited and nervous before we started our trek. Right out of the gate we saw a mama deer with an adorable spotted baby right in the middle of the trail near Longmire.


I knew it was going to be a more challenging day with the mileage and ascent. I was definitely feeling it the first larger hill we went up out of Longmire. We agreed to have lunch near the Indian Henry Patrol Cabin. We all tried hiking together, but we all had our different paces. So after a while we all just spread out and hiked our own hike.

Near Devils Camp there was a really cool waterfall that can barely be seen from the trail as well as a really cool slot canyon.


As I neared a lake called Squaw Lake, I came across my first section of large snow patches. They lined the lake. My cousins had decided to stop there instead of at the next lake to eat. It felt so good to stop. I was totally soaked with sweat.


When we came upon the meadows near Indian Henry Patrol Cabin I was in awe. There was an incredible view of Mt Rainier with wildflowers everywhere. It was magical! After the cabin the trail worked its way downhill. At the bottom of the next valley there was a hanging bridge crossing the strong river a ways below which was followed by our next uphill section. I was really starting to feel rather weak and exhausted. I had to take my time climbing uphill to Emerald Ridge. I had to stop because I felt like I was going to pass out. I could tell I was really pushing my body, but somehow I made it to the top. It was such a cool view of the mountain. It was unreal. We took a break there and then hiked down to the bottom of the next valley where our camp was located. I’m not going to lie, a few tears were shed on my part.


I don’t know how I made it down to camp. My feet had gone past the point of hurting and were burning like hell. It wasn’t only a physically exhausting day, it was also a very emotionally draining day.


Emerald Ridge

My journal notes at the end of the day: - Lunch at meadow near Squaw Lake (12:15-12:50pm) - Filled up water 2 different times

Beautiful points: - Indian Henry Patrol Cabin - Emerald Ridge


I honestly don’t know how I made it the last 4 hours of today. I pushed wayyy beyond what my body could handle. My feet were burning by the end of the day. I can’t believe I went almost 13 miles! It was so brutal. My body started to feel like it was going to flush so it felt like I needed to shit and throw up—not a fun exhaustion feeling. I saw a badger near Emerald Ridge. The views of the mountain were epic. Coming down from Emerald Ridge there was a large washout on the trail as it passed by a cliff. The trail was 1 ft wide and slanted. I didn’t feel good and was pretty scared. But I did it! I looked back and there was one precarious rock holding the whole trail up that looked like it was ready to go at any point. It was hundreds of feet down to the bottom of the canyon. Not a fan. Hopefully there’s nothing more like that. I’m so pooped and beyond exhausted. Tomorrow is a shorter day. Hopefully I’m not in too much pain. I feel like I’m not physically ready for this yet. I just have to make it to Mowich Lake and then I have the option to get off trail, which I probably will do. I want to cry, I feel so defeated and utterly exhausted.

Day 2 - South Puyallup River to North Puyallup River

Day 3 - North Puyallup River to South Mowich River Camp

Day 4 - South Mowich River Camp to Mowich Lake




Gallery



Food Cache Locations

  • Longmire

  • Mowich Lake

  • Sunrise

  • White River


Food caches can be mailed or delivered by hand to the food cache locations you choose before your trip. Since I didn’t stay on trail past Mowich Lake I didn’t have to restock on food. We decided not to use the food caches since at each food cache point (Mowich and White River) my aunt was going to meet us and deliver it to us so that I had the option to get off trail whenever I wanted. One thing to note if you use fuel for meals it cannot be mailed and has to be hand delivered. For more information directly from the source got to Mt Rainier National Park website for details on how to mail and deliver food caches.

How to get there

Resources


Map



My Wild Adventure is not responsible for your safety, any possible injury, or anything that happens if you choose to follow anything on this website. Maps are not intended to be used for navigational purposes, but to give an overview of the route taken. By going outdoors you are solely responsible to know your strengths and limitations, be aware of current conditions and proceed with the appropriate caution. My Wild Adventure is not responsible for your choices and the outcome. Reference my disclaimer for more information on being responsible outdoors.

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