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Backpacker Magazine – November 2010

Best Hikes Ever: Wonderland Trail, WA

Circumnavigate the West's most majestic mountain.

by: Kelly Bastone


Dissenting opinion  “Hike around a mountain, suffering all of the ups and downs of its ridges and valleys, slogging through constant wet, not getting more than one or two excellent views a day, and not then also climb the damn thing?” asks Jonathan Dorn. “That’s like getting a Blowpop and only consuming the stick.”


Guarantee yourself the best view of this glaciated massif: Hike around it. Even single-minded climber and Contributing Editor John Harlin III—after twice summiting Mt. Rainier—says “hiking the Wonderland Trail was the more ambitious undertaking, the one that reveals The Mountain in all her glory.” This two-week journey tours Rainier’s diverse surroundings, from alpine ridges to rushing rivers.

Do it From Rainier National Park’s Sunrise Visitor Center, hike clockwise for downhill grades on day one and a spectacular first night’s camp at Summerland. That saves the most dramatic section, skirting two glaciers and grabbing Rainier’s best angles on the way from Carbon River to Sunrise, for last.

Resources
Driving From WA 410, take the Sunrise/White River turnoff and go 16 miles to the Sunrise Day Lodge.

Map/book
Green Trails Mount Rainier Wonderland ($10, greentrailsmaps.com) and Discovering the Wonders of the Wonderland Trail, by Bette Filley ($15, amazon.com)

Permit
Required ($20, reserve by March 15)

Contact
(360) 569-4453; nps.gov/mora




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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
KevinH
Feb 14, 2013

I did it couple yrs ago early Aug. Must do it again. I started at Longmire, which maybe works better than starting at Sunrise in one respect. I cached at Mowich Lk and White River campground, which places have camping for through hikers and Longmire doesn't. So you can put some SPECIAL stuff in your caches that gets consumed there and you don't have to carry the trash till the next cache. Important point: stick to your itin, don't jump ahead without changes in your permit. I planned 10.5 days, could have done it in 9.5 but would have been a strain. 11.5 might be better for a group of varied conditioning and experience. Relax with a book and meditation to fill the spare time. Really try to minimize your pack weight. Bring good repellent, yes mosquitoes can be terrible, eg Golden Lakes and Sunrise walk-in, but just use lots and they just buzz around at a safe distance.

bob and anita
Aug 25, 2011

tough hike counterclock from sunrise but very spectacular great views bad mosquietos real bad at devils rest do in early spring or fall

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