Backpacking in Mt. Rainier NP - Wonderland Trail

Overview

The Wonderland Trail is the famous circumnavigation of Mt. Rainier, a massive, glaciated volcano and the tallest mountain in Washington State (14,410'). On this trek, we combine sections of the Wonderland Trail and Northern Loop Trail, exploring some of the most fascinating and famed areas of Mt. Rainier National Park. Throughout the trip, the glittering slopes of Mt. Rainier's glaciers bedazzle, and on the Wonderland Trail, we get up close and personal with the Carbon Glacier, paralleling it for 8 miles as we travel up the Carbon Valley. We also explore the Sunrise Park area, trekking up to 7000 feet, where vast views of the Cascade giants are abundant. All logistics are taken care of for you, and all meals are included, so you can focus your attention on the beauty and physical demands at hand.

On the Wonderland Trail with Mt. Rainier in the background.

On the Wonderland Trail with Mt. Rainier in the background. Jeff Ries

Backpacking in Mt. Rainier NP - Wonderland Trail

Itinerary

Day 1:
Your guide will pick you up at your Seattle hotel early for introductions, paperwork, and a group equipment check to make sure we have what we expect to need on the trek. We will divide up the group food into our packs and drive to Mt. Rainier National Park, about two hours away. Our trek begins at the Sunrise Ranger Station on the east side of Mt. Rainier, at 6500 feet on a stunning ridge with views of distance volcanoes across Washington State. We hike about four miles to our first camp, Berkeley Camp, nestled in a valley along Lodi Creek. We will set up camp and enjoy grilled salmon with pasta before an evening review of the basics of wilderness travel and camping. 4 miles

We pass by many refreshing lakes along our trek.

We pass by many refreshing lakes along our trek. Jeff Ries

Day 2:
After a hearty mountain breakfast, we pack up camp and head deeper into the park via the Northern Loop Trail. We enjoy a stroll through pleasant Grand Park (where we might see bears), then descend to a bridge over the White River, only to switchback steeply up the other side of the river valley up to beautiful Lake James, where our next camp is located. Here we will look for mountain goats and a profusion of wildflowers. We set up camp near the lake and enjoy a delicious meal during a presentation on wilderness survival. 9.8 miles

Day 3:
Today's trek starts by ascending up and through Windy Gap at 5800', with an optional side trip to a 200-foot stone arch, a natural bridge left over from an early lava flow. We gradually descend down to the Carbon River at the terminus of the Carbon Glacier, join the Wonderland Trail, and cross a suspension bridge to get to our third camp, Carbon River Camp. 6 miles

Day 4:
Today's hike is a treat. We start at the terminus of the Carbon Glacier and then ascend for three miles along the glacier itself, witnessing ice chunks calving into the river and the constant sounds of moving, massive ice. We set up camp at Mystic Lake, in the shadow of Mineral Mountain and situated between the Carbon and Winthrop Glaciers. You can soak your feet in the refreshing lake water before retiring for the night. 5 miles

Day 5:
We wake leisurely and can explore the are directly around camp before packing up and heading out for another day of trekking. Today's trek takes us past the terminus of the Winthrop Glacier, past Garda Falls, and then up to our camp at the base of Burroughs Mountain. We drop our packs and can take an optional climb up Skyscraper Mountain before dinner to get a high alpine view of the sun setting on Mount Rainier's glittering glaciers. 4.5 miles

Day 6:
We wake slowly, enjoying our last morning of waking in the quiet backcountry before starting the trek back to the Sunrise Ranger Station. We first ascend through a peaceful forest, then over Skyscraper Pass with more, high views of Mt. Rainier. We then trek through Berkeley Park and can take an optional climb of Burroughs Mountain for one last view of the magnificent bulk of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding area. When we reach Sunrise Ranger Station, we gratefully drop packs and can stop by the Sunrise Visitor Center for a refreshing drink and snack before heading back to civilization. 5 miles

Backpacking in Mt. Rainier NP - Wonderland Trail

Cost and Details

$1175 (min of 2 hikers)

Max Ratio - 5:1 (Hiker:Guide)

Capactity - 10

 

Dates

  • Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2017
  • Sep 2 - Sep 7, 2018

 

Program Cost Inclusions and Exclusions

Included in the program cost is transportation from Seattle to the trailhead and back, all meals and snacks, group gear (stoves, cooking utensils, maps), park fees, and guide fee.

Excluded from the program cost is any personal gear (tents, sleeping bags and pads, spoons, etc), hotel cost, tips, and any personal snacks you may wish to bring along.

 

Map of Mt. Rainier

To view a map showing the Northern Loop Trail and Wonderland Trail, click on Rainier Route Map to the right - our route is marked in blue.

 

Extra Activites

You can extend your stay in the area and broaden your Pacific Northwest experience with a whale watching trip, sea kayaking adventure, or tour of the San Juan Islands (not included).

Backpacking in Mt. Rainier NP - Wonderland Trail

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