The Wonderland Trail is a distinguishing feature of Mount Rainier National Park. Establishment of the trail took place at the turn of the century when the "Wonderland" was an attraction used to promote park visitation. Later, rangers used the trail as a patrol beat. Original ranger cabins are still in use. The oldest cabin, constructed in 1915, is at Indian Henry's Hunting Ground.
Today's hikers find the 93 mile Wonderland to be one of the best ways to explore Mount Rainier National Park. The trail passes through major life-zones of the park, from lowland forests to subalpine meadows of wildflowers. Passing swift rivers, the trail leads to commanding views of Mount Rainier cloaked in icy glaciers. As the trail circles the mountain, hikers witness the varied faces of Mount Rainier, carved by 25 named glaciers.
Weather is a constantly changing factor. While summer is often dry and sunny, oceanic influences can also bring moisture as rain or snow at higher elevations. Hikers can find both company and solitude along the way. Although thousands hike the Wonderland Trail each summer, many stretches of the trail still provide the chance to be alone. Prior awareness of trail and weather conditions, wilderness regulations and general hiking information about the park will enhance a trip along the Wonderland Trail.
Mount Rainier National Park's Wilderness Management Plan provides for Wilderness Camping Permits and Use Limits .
Backcountry camps along the Wonderland Trail are extremely popular throughout the summer and Wilderness Camping Reservations are strongly recommended.
Two types of opportunities exist for overnight travel: trailside camps and crosscountry zones. Eighteen trailside camps , 3 to 7 miles apart, are located along the Wonderland Trail. Each camp has 1 to 8 sites for 1 to 5 persons per site. These sites will hold at most 2 tents. Parties requiring space for 3 or more tents must camp in a group site. Group sites are available at certain camps for parties of 6 to 12 persons. These sites typically hold 3-5 tents. Each camp has cleared tent sites, a pit or composting toilet and nearby water source. Boil, treat or filter all water before drinking! Most camps have food storage poles (Bear Poles) for hanging food and garbage.
T he Wonderland Trail traverses many ridges and valleys that radiate from Mount Rainier. A daily hike of 7 to 10 miles is recommended to compensate for the ruggedness of the trail. Daily elevation gains and losses of over 3,500 feet are common. Allow 10 to 14 days to hike the entire trail, depending on your daily average. The more time you give yourself, the more time you will have to enjoy the wonders of the Wonderland.
For complete trail descriptions refer to: Adventure Guide to Mount Rainier by Jeff Smoot Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail by Bette Filley 50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning Hiking Guides to Mount Rainier National Park (north, east and southwest sections)
These sources, along with other references and maps, are available for purchase at the park's visitor centers or by mail order from the Northwest Interpretive Association's Park Store .
Be prepared for mud, rain, sun and snow. In many years the Wonderland Trail is still mostly snow-covered during June and early July. Delaying your hiking plans until mid to late July will allow time for snow to melt and give trail crews a chance to clear fallen trees and repair bridges. Do not travel at high elevations during storms without strong map and compass skills. If possible, postpone travel until trail or weather conditions improve. An ice axe may be useful in negotiating snowy sections of the trail, especially during June and July. Beware of early snow storms in September! Check our web site for current trail conditions . NOAA weather radio also provides helpful weather information daily.
Pack the "10 Essentials" and be prepared for minor injuries, sudden weather changes or delays. Always carry: first aid kit flashlight pocketknife map and compass stove and matches food and water (allow for 2 extra days) extra clothing rain gear sun protection tent
Longmire Wilderness Information Center , 360-569-HIKE, beginning Memorial Day Weekend White River Wilderness Information Center , 360-663-2273 ext. 222, beginning Memorial Day Weekend Wilkeson Ranger Station , 360-829-5127, beginning mid-May
Northwest Interpretive Association
360-569-2211, ext. 3320#
Longmire, Washington 98397
By caching food and supplies at designated Ranger Stations along the Wonderland trail you can reduce the weight of your pack, and increase the ease of your outdoor adventure. Caching food and supplies at Mount Rainier National Park can be easy and trouble free. The instructions listed below will, in most instances, provide all the information you need to cache food supplies at designated food cache areas. If you have further questions or need to make specific arrangements concerning time and pickup points for your cache, call or write to the desired cache areas listed below.
If you cache food and supplies remember that there is no guarantee that staff will be available at the time and day you arrive for the pickup. It would be a good idea to contact the park and check about the time you plan to make a cache drop off or pickup. This may save you time and frustration.
Park-wide food and supplies cache instructions and things to consider. All caches must be packed in rodent proof containers (sealed hard plastic preferred). All caches must be dropped off or sent to stations listed below only; caches will not be transported from one area to another. Fuel cannot be mailed as it is flammable and it cannot be stored at any Ranger Station. The only place to purchase fuel in the park is at the Longmire Gift Shop. Longmire, Sunrise and Mowich Lake are near the Wonderland Trail for easy cache pickup. The Ohanapecosh and White River Ranger Stations are not along the Wonderland Trail and require a side trip to reach a cache at these locations All caches must have the following information printed on the outside (away from the shipping label). FOOD CACHE FOR: (PART LEADER'S NAME)
FOR PICK-UP AT: (NAME OF CACHE STATION)
FOR PICK-UP ON: (DATE)
Caches are stored at the Longmire Wilderness Information Center and can be dropped off or picked up during normal business hours at the center from Memorial Day Weekend to September 30. At all other times food caches should be dropped off or picked up by contacting a ranger at the Longmire Museum, 360-569-2211 ext. 3314.
Mount Rainier National Park
Longmire Wilderness Information Center
Longmire, WA 98397 Call 360-569-HIKE beginning Memorial Day Weekend for further assistance.
Caches are stored at both the Sunrise and White River Ranger Stations, and may be dropped off or picked up during normal business hours. The Sunrise Ranger Station is near the Wonderland Trail; however, Sunrise has a short season. Sunrise Ranger Station normally opens around July 1st and closes around September 30th. Early and late season hikers should use the White River Ranger Station for their cache. Call ahead to check with the staff about operation schedule.
Caches for Sunrise may be sent to the White River Ranger Station to be held until the Sunrise Ranger Station opens. In this case, a cache must arrive at the White River Ranger Station a minimum of one week prior to the hiker pick-up date at Sunrise.
Telephones: 360-663-2425 (Sunrise) or 360-569-6030 (White River)
Mount Rainier National Park
Sunrise Ranger Station (or White River Ranger Station)
70002 SR 410 East
Enumclaw, WA 98022
Caches for backpackers on both the Wonderland Trail and the Pacific Crest Trails may be sent to the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center for retrieval during normal business hours. Recognize that the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center is NOT adjacent to either trail and requires considerable distance and loss in elevation to access the station from these trails.
Send caches to Ohanapecosh via UPS or US Mail to: Mount Rainier National Park
Ohanapecosh Visitor Center
Packwood, WA 98361
The cache for Wonderland Trail backpackers in the northwest portion of the park is normally the Mowich Lake patrol cabin. Although the Wonderland Trail passes through the Mowich Lake area, backpackers are cautioned that there is no formal mail delivery to Mowich Lake and packages may be later than expected arriving there. Furthermore, staffing levels are such that there may be no ranger there when you arrive. The primary ranger station in the Carbon River and Mowich Lake areas is Wilkeson Ranger Station in the town of Wilkeson, well outside the park. Note: Snow usually lingers at Mowich Lake until late June or early July. The Mowich Lake patrol cabin is usually not staffed until mid to late June. If you are planning a June hike of the Wonderland Trail, there is no guarantee that you will be able to pick up a food cache at Mowich Lake. It is difficult to deliver caches to Mowich Lake before July. Telephone: Wilkeson Wilderness Information Center: 360-829-5127 Send caches for Mowich Lake via UPS or US Mail: Mount Rainier National Park
Wilkeson Ranger Station
529 Church Street (for UPS delivery)
P.O. Box 423 (for US Mail delivery)
Wilkeson, WA 98396 Updated: Thursday, 01-Sep-2005 12:05:51 EDT http://www.nps.gov/mora/trail/wonder.htm
Author: Ranger Division