The Wonderland Trail
encircling Mount Rainier
The West Side:
The trail descriptions are divided up between campsites that are found along the
trail, spaced between three and seven miles apart. Don't plan on skipping by three or four
of them in one day. The trail is steep: you will gain 20,000 feet over the whole trail,
and gains and losses of 3,500 feet a day are common. It is simply divided this way
for easy reference.
Longmire - Pyramid Creek 3.8 miles
The trail heads east past the Longmire ranger station paralleling the Nisqually Highway.
At 0.4 of a mile the trail crosses the Nisqually Highway and begins to climb.
At 1.8 miles the trail meets the Van Trump Park Trail to the right. The top
of Rampart Ridge is at 2.0 miles and the trail levels off and then gradually descends.
The trail then descends via switchbacks to Kautz Creek which is at 3.0 miles.
Note: there may or may not be a bridge here, if not use caution when crossing the
creek because the cloudy water hides obstacles underwater. After crossing the trail
climbs immediatly then levels off. Pyramid Creek Camp
is at 3.8 miles. This camp might be a good lunch spot if continuing to Devils Dream Camp.
Pyramid Creek - Devils Dream 2.0 miles
After leaving Pyramid Creek the trail begins to climb steeply via switchbacks.
Fisherman Hornpipe Creek is at 1.0 mile and is another ideal lunch spot if on the
way to Devils Dream. After crossing the creek the trail levels out for about 0.5
mile. The trail then begins to climb again and at 2.0 is Devils
Dream Camp. Water is 0.5 mile up the trail if the stream near the camp is dry.
Devils Dream - South Puyallup 6.5 miles
After leaving the camp the trail climbs of about 0.5 miles and then levels off to
Squaw Lake. The trail wanders past the lake
and up some erosion steps to Indain Henrys Hunting Ground
located at 1.0 mile. There is a small ranger station
here with a register, but no camping is allowed at Indian Henrys. After leaving
there the trail begins to descend, there is a large rock to the left of the trail that
hosts good views. The trail continues to descend via many short, steep
switchbacks. At 2.8 miles is the Tahoma Creek Suspension Bridge. It is 250
feet long and 100 feet high. After crossing the bridge get water at the next stream
as there will be no water until the other side of Emerald Ridge from here. The trail
climbs to the top of Emerald Ridge at 4.4 miles. The last mile offers good views of
the mountain and the South Tahoma Glacier. At the top the trail begins to descend
through meadows along the Tahoma Glacier. The next few miles go very quickly with
the help of many short switchbacks. At 6.5 is the South
Puyallup Camp, water should be obtained from the stream running through camp not the
South Puyallup River.
South Puyallup - Klapatche Park 4.0 miles
The trail begins by crossing the South Puyallup River via a large log bridge with
hand rail. The trail begins to climb in the forest after crossing the river.
At times the trail is overgrown with bushes that can be very wet in the early morning, but
route finding is not a problem. The trail goes in and out of tree cover until
reaching St. Andrews Park at 2.0 miles. There will most likely be snow here.
Watch for marmots whistling to you on the talus slopes below the trail. The trail
begins to descend to St. Andrews Lake which may be covered in snow. The trail then
bereifly climbs then descends to Klaptche Park. Water
is obtained from Aurora Lake aka Scum Puddle.
Klapatche Park - North Puyallup 2.8 miles
From Klapatche Park the trail follows the shore of
Aurora Lake then begins to descend rather steeply at times via many switchbacks. Do
not step off the narrow trail here because what looks like stable brush is not stable at
all. Water can be found at the tiny streamlets that cross the trail from the
waterfalls on the cliffs above. At 2.8 miles is the North
Puyallup road, which is the group site, there are three other campsites and an
outhouse across the river. If staying here the sunsets are spectactular.
North Puyallup - Golden Lakes 5.0 miles
After crossing the North Puyallup River the trail parallels the river for 2.0
miles. After that the trail begins to leave the river and begin a steady climb.
At 3.0 miles the trail enters an old burn area, make sure you have water, as it
gets very hot here in the full sun. Looking back over your shoulder Mount Rainier is
just visible over the ridge. The top of the ridge is 3.6 miles. From this
point the trail wanders through meadows and small groves of trees until reaching Golden Lakes Ranger Station at 5.0 miles. There are five
campsites and an outhouse here. Water is from one of the lakes.
Golden Lakes - Mowich River 6.0 miles
After leaving Golden Lakes the trail passes a small lake and enters the forest
again. The trail leaves the forest cover and crosses along the ridge, this section
is very hot in the open sun. At 2.0 miles is the pass at the end of Colonade Ridge.
The trail then descends via 34 knee pounding switchbacks to the South Mowich River
at 5.8 miles. There may or may not be a bridge at this river crossing, the river is
very hard on them. If you must ford then be very careful as the chocolate colored
water makes it difficult to see obstacles. Mowich River
Camp has a shelter, four camp sites, and an outhouse. Water can either be
obtained from the river, or a small creek that crosses the trail past camp.
Mowich River - Mowich Lake 3.8 miles
At 0.5 miles the trail intersects with the Paul Peak Trail. For the next
3.0 miles the trail climbs relentlessly, leaving the hiker wondering if they will ever get
to the top. The trail levels off before its last final ascent to Mowich Lake.
There is camping at Mowich Lake, but if the hiker is after solitude this is not the place (the
campground is actually an old parking lot), it could be an ideal luch spot, and a
place to resupply.
From here the hiker has two options of way that they could go. One they can
continue on the Wonderland Trail to Ipsut Creek Campground, or two they can take the
alternate to the Wonderland Trail over Spray Park to Carbon River
Continue on to The North Side