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)