Mount Rainier National Park: Paul Peak Trail to Mowich River

Hike 6.5 miles on a lesser-traveled trail on the forested side of Paul Peak to the Wonderland Trail, then down to the banks of the Mowich River.
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Hike 6.5 miles on a lesser-traveled trail on the forested side of Paul Peak to the Wonderland Trail, then down to the banks of the Mowich River.

INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-camping-and-hiking.htm.

PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations requests accepted by fax or mail, starting on March 15th of each year ($20/reservation). Download form at nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-reservation-information.htm.

CONTACT Mt. Rainier National Park, (360) 569-2211; nps.gov/mora

-Mapped by Alan Bauer, Alan Bauer Photography

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 10.5

Waypoints

PPT001

Location: 46.934734, -121.907356

Newly improved trail drops 250 ft. from parking area to Meadow Creek where lush areas grow beargrass, devil's club, yellow violets

PPT002

Location: 46.928398, -121.908218

Cross Meadow Creek. American dippers fly up and down creek corridor. Trail leads SW up a gentle grade through an old-growth forest

PPT003

Location: 46.920864, -121.911797

Just as the trail prepares to turn SE around a rib-line of Paul Peak, the forest thins out (good for spotting elk)

PPT004

Location: 46.919067, -121.905685

Catch a glimpse of Mt. Rainier through the foliage. Calypso orchids, wild ginger, and more yellow violets make this a prime spot for photographers and botanists

PPT005

Location: 46.919491, -121.900604

Drop down switchbacks

PPT006

Location: 46.918777, -121.900085

Some years ago, a strong wind leveled a portion of this forest. The damage was devastating, but it opened up new views of Mt. Rainier and the Mowich River

PPT007

Location: 46.918316, -121.899498

Reenter forest after a maze of downed trees

PPT008

Location: 46.917152, -121.892494

Turn R onto the Wonderland Trail, continuing downhill to the lowlands of the North and South Mowich Rivers

PPT009

Location: 46.916008, -121.894073

As the trail levels out near the first river, take note the massive old-growth Douglas firs and two giant Western red cedars

PPT010

Location: 46.914738, -121.892853

Emerge from forest and see where the Wonderland Trail just disappears into the massive rubble of rocks and logjams at the North Mowich River. Floods in November 2006 ripped down this river, taking out all the footbridges. Push on to South Mowich Camp, enjoy lunch, then head back uphill to car