Pub. Date:
One Best Hike: Mount Rainier's Wonderland Trail

One Best Hike: Mount Rainier's Wonderland Trail

by Doug Lorain


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Wednesday, October 20


This is the only comprehensive guide dedicated to this one classic trail. All alternate routes are also described (unlike the more general mentions in books that include other trails as well). Hikers will learn about all the best hidden side trips, discover great planning tips, find out how best to snag one of the coveted permits, and have complete sample itineraries available to help with planning, making this guide indispensable to anyone planning to tackle the Wonderland Trail.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780899976556
Publisher: Wilderness Press
Publication date: 08/14/2012
Series: One Best Hike
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 1,156,406
Product dimensions: 5.66(w) x 8.32(h) x 0.41(d)

About the Author

Douglas Lorain's family moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1969, and he has been obsessively hitting the trails of his home region ever since. Over the years he calculates that he has logged well over 30,000 trail miles in this corner of the continent, and despite a history that includes being bitten by a rattlesnake, shot at by a hunter, charged by a grizzly bear, and donating countless gallons of blood to "invertebrate vampires," he happily sees no end in sight. Lorain is a photographer and recipient of the National Outdoor Book Award. His books cover only the best trips from the thousands of hikes and backpacking trips he has taken throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. His photographs have been featured in numerous magazines, calendars, and books. He is described by the Seattle Times as the "next great Northwest trail guide author."

Read an Excerpt

Section 1: Longmire to Mowich

Distance: 34.1 miles

A majority of those who hike the entire Wonderland Trail begin at Longmire and travel clockwise. Thus, the first section you will probably tackle is around the west side of the mountain between Longmire and Mowich Lake. This is a long and relatively tough section, with lots of ups and downs and some steep trails. It is also outstandingly beautiful, so you don’t have to wait to get to the good stuff. The scenery at Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground, Emerald Ridge, Klapatche Park, and Sunset Park is as good or better than anything else in the park, or just about anywhere else in the United States for that matter. Surprisingly, this section also provides solitude. With the permanent closure of the flood-prone Westside Road, day hikers can no longer reasonably explore most of the trails here. As a result, Wonderland Trail hikers typically share the scenery only with other backpackers.

Before setting out, it’s worth investing a little time checking out the historic buildings around Longmire, formerly the park’s headquarters. The two most important of the many log structures here, at least for the hiker, are the Longmire Museum and the Longmire Wilderness Information Center, both about 75 yards from the Wonderland Trailhead. The small museum offers fascinating displays on the natural and human history of Mount Rainier National Park and includes a gift shop where you can pick up postcards, a wildflower guide, or that ever-popular T-shirt. The museum is directly across the Longmire access road from the Wonderland Trailhead and is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily July 1– September 5 and 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. the rest of the year. The wilderness information center is just east of the trailhead and is where you should go to pick up your reserved permit (or ask about a first-come, first-serve permit) and to inquire about the latest trail and weather conditions. The facility is open 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily July 1–October 10.

The Wonderland Trail starts beside a small sign just a few yards east of where the Longmire access road leaves the Longmire-Paradise Road (also known as Washington
Highway 706). Ascending gradually through a typical low elevation forest dominated by western hemlocks, Douglas firs, and western red cedars, the wide trail climbs beside the road for 0.1 mile before splitting to start the loop.

For the clockwise loop you bear left at the fork and continue paralleling the road for just less than 0.2 mile to a crossing of the highway, where the road makes a sharp right turn beside a small upper parking lot. Here you leave the road, and your wilderness adventure begins.

The route starts with an uphill that, initially at least, is quite gentle beneath a shady canopy of large evergreens. The undergrowth is an interesting mix of, among other species, deer ferns, various mosses, foamflowers, blueberries, and one small bog of skunk cabbage. The last plant graces the forest with huge, shiny, dark-green leaves and prefers wet areas at relatively low elevations. In early summer this plant has large, showy, yellow flowers. Though the odor from these blossoms is not nearly as offensive as that from the plant’s namesake, it is also unlikely to be the basis for a perfume any time soon. As with many perennially wet places along the trail, you cross the bog on a log puncheon bridge.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

List of Maps ix

1 Introduction 1

Mount Rainier and the Wonderland Trail 1

Mount Rainier's Human History 3

Natural History 8

A Word about Mileages 27

2 Have a Safe (And Fun) Trip 29

Hypothermia 29

Accidents 32

Blisters, Aches and Pains, and Injuries 34

Bears, Bugs, and Other Critters 38

Other Safety Issues 40

3 Planning and Preparation 47

Section Hikes or All at Once? 47

When to Go 50

Where to Start 52

How Long to Take 55

What to Bring 58

How to Get to Mount Rainier 71

Accommodations 73

Car Shuttles 75

Food Drops 76

Getting in Shape and Pacing Yourself 78

Permits 81

Leave No Trace Principles and Backcountry Etiquette 84

Other Items Worth Considering 86

4 Trail Description 91

Section 1 Longmire to Mowich Lake 91

Section 2 Mowich Lake to Carbon River Camp Junction via the Wonderland Trail 115

Section 3 Mowich Lake to Carbon River Camp Junction via the Spray Park Trail 121

Section 4 Carbon River Camp Junction to Sunrise via the Wonderland Trail 128

Section 5 Carbon River Camp Junction to Berkeley Park and Sunrise via the Northern Loop Trail 140

Section 6 Sunrise to Fryingpan Creek/SummerlandTraiihead 148

Section 7 Fryingpan Creek/Summerland Trailhead to Box Canyon via the Wonderland Trail 154

Section 8 Fryingpan Creek/Summerland Trailhead to Cowlitz Divide and Box Canyon via the Eastside Trail 164

Section 9 Box Canyon to Longmire 171

Appendix A Recommended Reading 181

Appendix B Selected Area Restaurants, Motels, Outdoors Stores, and Other Businesses 183

Appendix C Park Service Website and Telephone Numbers 186

Index 187

About the Author 190

Customer Reviews