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Wonderland Adventure: Encircle Mount Rainier in 93 Miles!

High Point

High Point:
6,750 feet (2,057 meters)

Total Ascent

Total Ascent:
22,000 feet (6,700 meters)


93 miles

Route Type

Route Type:

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Embark on the Wonderland Trail, a 93-mile journey encircling Mount Rainier. Revel in breathtaking views of glaciers, wildflower meadows, and dense forests. This challenging trek offers an unforgettable adventure in nature’s grandeur.


The Wonderland Trail is a 93-mile loop that encircles Mount Rainier, offering hikers an unparalleled opportunity to experience the diverse beauty of Mount Rainier National Park. Known for its spectacular views of glaciers, wildflower meadows, and dense forests, the trail is a comprehensive way to explore the park. This guide provides detailed information on hiking the Wonderland Trail, including the best times to hike, necessary preparations, day-by-day itinerary, and essential tips for a successful adventure.

Emerald Ridge on theWonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park.

Best Time to Hike

The optimal time to hike the Wonderland Trail is from mid-July to late September. During this period, the weather is generally more stable, snow has melted from most sections, and the trail is accessible. Wildflowers are in full bloom, and wildlife sightings are frequent. However, hikers should always be prepared for variable weather conditions, including rain and colder temperatures, especially at higher elevations.

Permits and Regulations


A permit is required to hike the Wonderland Trail. Due to the trail’s popularity, it is advisable to apply for a permit as early as possible. Permits are issued starting in March for the upcoming hiking season. Reservations can be made through the Mount Rainier National Park website or via a mail-in application.


Hikers must adhere to Leave No Trace principles to preserve the trail’s natural beauty. This includes packing out all trash, avoiding disturbing wildlife, and camping only in designated sites. Campfires are prohibited along the Wonderland Trail to protect the delicate alpine environment.

Preparing for the Hike

Physical Preparation

Hiking the Wonderland Trail requires excellent physical fitness due to its length and elevation changes. A comprehensive training plan should include:

  • Cardiovascular Exercise: Activities such as running, cycling, and swimming to build endurance.
  • Strength Training: Focus on core, leg, and upper body strength through weight training and bodyweight exercises.
  • Hiking Practice: Regular hikes with a loaded backpack to simulate trail conditions and build stamina.

Aim for at least 3-6 months of preparation, gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts.

Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day 1: Longmire to Devil’s Dream (6.2 miles)

Begin your adventure at Longmire, a historical district and starting point for many hikers. The trail starts with a steady climb through lush forests, offering occasional views of Mount Rainier. The destination for the day, Devil’s Dream, is a serene campsite with nearby water sources.

Day 2: Devil’s Dream to South Puyallup River Camp (6.5 miles)

This segment features beautiful old-growth forests and alpine meadows. The highlight is crossing the suspension bridge over the South Puyallup River. The camp is nestled in a picturesque valley, offering a tranquil setting for the night.

Day 3: South Puyallup River Camp to Mowich Lake (11 miles)

One of the most scenic sections of the trail, this day includes a climb to Emerald Ridge, providing stunning views of the Tahoma Glacier. The descent to Mowich Lake passes through Spray Park, known for its wildflowers and panoramic vistas. Mowich Lake offers a refreshing spot for a swim.

Day 4: Mowich Lake to Mystic Camp (12.2 miles)

This challenging day includes a steep climb up Ipsut Pass and a traverse of the Carbon Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in the contiguous United States. Mystic Lake is a serene destination, perfect for resting and enjoying the surrounding beauty.

Day 5: Mystic Camp to Sunrise (10 miles)

The trail continues through alpine meadows and forests, passing by the Winthrop Glacier. Mystic Lake is a serene spot for a break, and the climb up Skyscraper Pass offers some of the most dramatic views on the trail. Sunrise, your destination for the day, is known for its stunning vistas and is a great place for stargazing.

Day 6: Sunrise to White River Campground (3.8 miles)

A shorter section, but no less scenic. The trail traverses the Burroughs Mountain area, offering incredible views of Mount Rainier and the Emmons Glacier. The descent to White River Campground is gentle, allowing you to enjoy the scenery without too much strain.

Day 7: White River Campground to Indian Bar (7.8 miles)

This section is a highlight of the trail, with a challenging ascent to Summerland, one of the most beautiful spots on the trail. Wildflowers are abundant in late summer, and the views of Little Tahoma and Mount Rainier are breathtaking. The descent into Indian Bar offers equally stunning scenery, with lush meadows and a serene campsite.

Day 8: Indian Bar to Maple Creek Camp (6.5 miles)

The trail traverses the Cowlitz Divide, offering panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. The descent into the Ohanapecosh River Valley takes you through old-growth forests, with numerous small waterfalls along the way. Maple Creek Camp is a peaceful spot to rest after a long day.

Day 9: Maple Creek Camp to Longmire (9.7 miles)

The final stretch takes you through Stevens Canyon, with its impressive waterfalls and scenic vistas. The descent to Longmire is gentle, allowing you to reflect on your incredible journey. Longmire offers facilities where you can relax and enjoy the end of your adventure.

Wildlife and Nature


The Wonderland Trail passes through several ecological zones, each with its unique plant life. In the lower elevations, you’ll find dense forests of Douglas fir, western red cedar, and hemlock. As you ascend, the forests give way to subalpine meadows filled with wildflowers such as lupine, paintbrush, and avalanche lilies. Above the treeline, you’ll encounter alpine tundra, where hardy plants like moss campion and alpine aster thrive.


Wildlife is abundant along the Wonderland Trail. You may encounter black bears, deer, elk, and mountain goats. Smaller mammals such as marmots, pikas, and squirrels are also common. Birdwatchers will enjoy sightings of eagles, hawks, and various songbirds. Always keep a respectful distance from wildlife and store food properly to avoid attracting animals to your campsite.

Safety Tips and Considerations


Weather in Mount Rainier National Park can change rapidly, especially at higher elevations. Be prepared for rain, wind, and potentially cold temperatures, even in summer. Check the weather forecast before your hike and adjust your plans if severe weather is expected.

River Crossings

Several sections of the Wonderland Trail involve river crossings. While most major crossings have bridges, some smaller streams may require fording. Be cautious and use trekking poles for stability. If a river appears too dangerous to cross, wait for water levels to decrease or find an alternative route.


While the Wonderland Trail does not reach extreme altitudes, the highest point on the trail is Panhandle Gap at approximately 6,750 feet (2,057 meters). The elevation changes can still affect some hikers. Take your time to acclimate, especially if you are not used to high elevations. Stay hydrated and listen to your body. If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, or dizziness, descend to a lower elevation and rest.


Although the Wonderland Trail is well-marked, it’s essential to carry a detailed map and compass or GPS device. Familiarize yourself with the route and key landmarks before starting your hike. Be aware that cell phone reception is limited in many areas of the park.

Emergency Situations

In case of an emergency, be prepared to signal for help. A whistle, mirror, or brightly colored clothing can attract attention. Know the locations of ranger stations along the trail, and consider carrying a personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger for added safety.

Packing List

Essential Gear
  • Backpack: A comfortable, well-fitted pack with a capacity of 50-70 liters.
  • Footwear: Sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support.
  • Shelter: A lightweight, weather-resistant tent.
  • Sleeping Gear: A warm sleeping bag (rated for the lowest expected temperatures) and a sleeping pad.
  • Clothing: Moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, a waterproof jacket, and a hat/gloves for warmth.
  • Navigation: A map and compass, and/or a GPS device.
  • Water: A filtration system or purification tablets to treat water from natural sources.
  • Food: High-calorie, lightweight food for the duration of the hike.
  • First Aid Kit: Including blister treatment, bandages, antiseptic, and any personal medications.
  • Trekking Poles: Useful for stability and reducing strain on joints during ascents and descents.
Additional Items
  • Sun Protection: Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat.
  • Cooking Gear: A lightweight stove, fuel, cookware, and utensils.
  • Hydration: Water bottles or a hydration reservoir with a capacity of at least 2 liters.
  • Lighting: A headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Multi-tool: For various repair needs.
  • Camera: To capture the stunning scenery.


Hiking the Wonderland Trail is an unforgettable adventure that offers a unique opportunity to experience the diverse beauty of Mount Rainier National Park. From the lush forests and vibrant wildflower meadows to the rugged glaciers and stunning vistas, this trail has something for every hiker. With proper preparation, a sense of adventure, and respect for the natural environment, you can embark on a journey that will leave you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the wonders of the Pacific Northwest.

Whether you’re an experienced backpacker or a passionate hiker looking for your next big challenge, the Wonderland Trail promises a rewarding and awe-inspiring experience. Lace up your boots, pack your gear, and set out on a journey that will take you around one of the most iconic mountains in the United States. The Wonderland Trail awaits, ready to offer its splendor and challenge to those who seek to explore its paths.

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Terms of Use: As with each guide published on, should you choose to these routes, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While taking a trail, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. SKYBLUE OVERLAND LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals following this route.