Wonderland Trail

Posted by: haikublue

Wonderland Trail - 11/26/07 08:02 PM

I was fooling arond online...my wanderlust getting the best of me...and came across the Wonderland Trail. It goes around Mt Rainer in Washington. Does anyone have experience with it? It's only around 95 miles.

I also came up with the Oregon Coast Trail. Does anyone have experience with that one? I guess I am subconciously exploring my next trip...next summer.
Posted by: hafdome

Re: Wonderland Trail - 11/27/07 07:54 AM

The bad news is that the Wonderland was damaged and parts are closed. The good news is that it is a spectacular trail. That 95 miles covers some of the best country in the PNW. If you only hike one NW trail in your life do the Wonderland. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
Posted by: PaulTheSlow

Re: Wonderland Trail - 11/27/07 08:04 AM


I've only done the Wonderland Trail once in '99, but it was a great experience: Wonderful views of the mountain, physically challenging but not too much so (similar to the JMT for me), and varied forest environments. The altitude gain/loss to distance ratio is similar to the JMT. Several caveats about which you should be aware:

- The WT suffered severe damage recently (last year?) and I saw estimates that it would be under repair for a couple of years, so at the very least, get some up to date trail condition reports, and maybe consider waiting another year.

- I had a couple of acrophobic moments on the trail. Of special note is the 250 foot suspension bridge over Tahoma Creek, which seemed Indiana Jones-esque.

- Established camp sites were by reservation (there was also a confusing back-country site option), so whenever you decide to go, work on getting your permit well in advance.

- Be prepared for both rain and bugs.

That being said, I would highly recommend it. It has incredible views, great campsites (mostly), old growth forest, glaciers, volcanic vents, banana slugs, bears, snow fields, alpine environments, etc.

Hope this helps,

Posted by: haikublue

Re: Wonderland Trail - 11/27/07 01:35 PM

Thanks you two! I am even more excited to try it maybe in 2 summers. It sounds really beautiful.
Posted by: BrianLe

Re: Wonderland Trail - 11/30/07 03:34 PM

In August in a wta.org post it was reported that the Wonderland trail is once again hikeable in its entirety.

My wife and I hiked the Wonderland trail last year (2006). I agree, it's superb. I live in Washington state and there are many many places to hike out here; I don't tend to want to go back to the same place again in that context, but I'd do this a second time. Note that there are a couple of places you can cache food along the way so as to not have to carry all your food weight from the start.

A couple of caveats. First, you have to book each and every camp site (well) ahead of time, and allowing some flexibility for the F.S. to change your schedule helps your odds. Basically, google it to find the details, mark on your calendar I think something like March or so (?) to make sure you get your application in the first day they'll be accepting them.

Another caveat for some folks is the ups & downs --- at times it feels that there is never any horizontal trail, that you're always climbing up to some ridge or peak, or dropping back down to another water crossing. It's a good idea to be in reasonable shape before starting this. I had done a lot of miles in a different trip a week earlier, and thus found it much easier than did my wife. We did ~10 mile days, and I recommend something along that line, even if you're in good physical shape to do more. There's just a lot to see, the animals are less shy than in most places, it's nice to be able to just sit on a rock in a meadow for a while and watch the wildlife, etc.

There are relatively few outdoorsy things in Washington state that require such advance planning/scheduling, basically a lottery system to try to get in. The others that come to mind off-hand are climbing Mt. St. Helens and hiking in the Enchantments, and both of those are well worth the planning hassle as well.

Brian Lewis
Posted by: sarbar

Re: Wonderland Trail - 11/30/07 03:51 PM

It was opened at the end of summer once again <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> There was though a little road walking though due to damage (on Steve Canyons Rd).

Btw, my friend Drew runs http://www.eyehike.com/ . He has done the WT many times, and his site has a lot of information on elevation, mileage, camps, photos, etc.

It is worth doing, and you won't forget it. In 2004 I didn't find it hard to get a permit. we faxed our "order" in on the day it opened and actually got our first choices. A good bet is start mid week if you can and be flexible. We did it in too few days and I paid for it with bad blisters that sent me off the trail <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> (This was a good lesson learned!)

If I were to do it again, I would take a lot longer to do it. Give myself 10 days at least. We were doing 11+ miles a day, which doesn't seem like a lot...except for that trail is NEVER flat! I have done hard sections of the PCT, and they were all easier than those stupid never ending stairs from hell coming out of Indian Bar!

The nice thing though about the permit system is that you know you will have a campsite every night. You just have to walk to it <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" /> And they all have privies and bear poles as well.
Posted by: aceatc

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/22/08 11:01 PM

The wonderland trail was closed for a while from the massive flood damage in 2006, but should be open now if I remember. Here's a good link:

Boy howdy, I wish I had the time to hike the whole thing, but I only have real current experience for all the trails near the Longmire Area (southwest side of the mountain).

The mountain is beautiful year round and is definitely a great hike and a great workout. Lots and lots of good uphill grade to hike through, you get used to it though. Boy, it's real fun in the winter :-)

You're planning to go in the summer, right? If your looking to go in the summer you should be fine finding the campsites, but in the winter I have to use my GPS to find certain camp sites. I have GPS'ed the trails I hike through so I can still follow the trail when the snow has covered up everything.

Most importantly, bring a camera!
Posted by: sarbar

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/23/08 11:28 AM

As of fall it was open once again, except for a small section of road walking in Steve Canyons Rd. No loss there though......
As long as we have a normal melt out all should be good next summer! The repairs to Hwy 123 were amazing as well.
Posted by: haikublue

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/23/08 06:49 PM

I am getting excited planning this! I think I am going to take amtrack there (I love trains...and it is cheaper than the airfare from where I live) and then stay at the Green Tortoise Hostel in Seattle (I love Green Tortoise...so seems cool) I am fairly unclear just yet, without looking too hard, how to get from Seattle to the trail. I hope that part works out better than the JMT! That was a challenge for sure with no shuttle service.

Yesterday and Today, for you bay area folks, I drove up to MT Diablo with preschool families to have fun in SNOW! We are not well aquainted with the white stuff in these parts...without driving 4 hours to the sierras, so it was cool to drive just an hour and have some fun! brbrbrbrrrr it's cold for us californians this winter...at night it is getting to the low 30'S!!! Don't laugh you people from other white powder lands! hahahaha!
Posted by: hafdome

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/23/08 09:07 PM

I think there is or used to be a shuttle service from Sea-Tac airport to the Park itself. How you would connect with that from Amtrak, I'm not sure.
Posted by: haikublue

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/23/08 09:18 PM

Thanks, I will look into that.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/23/08 11:47 PM

You mentioned the Oregon Coast Trail. The problem is that this trail most definitely isn't complete--there's a lot of road walking (and US 101 is not renowned for wide shoulders) to get around bays and estuaries. Plus you can't camp within sight of buildings or within 1/4 mile of state parks or (in some counties) outside of designated campgrounds, which means that in some sections you'd have to motel it. Finally, at least the northernmost (Tillamook Head) forested section is currently a mishmash of downed trees criss-crossing each other in many layers since the early December windstorm. There are a few sections well worth doing that avoid road-walks, especially the Bandon-Port Orford section. In this area, US 101 runs several miles inland and the coast is relatively wild. This is best done in the fall when the rivers (particularly the Sixes and Elk Rivers at the southern end) are more fordable. I'm hoping to do part of this section next September. The two towns are connected by bus, but since I hike with my dog, I have to do an out-and-back.

If you really want a coast trail, I'd suggest the Olympic National Park wilderness coast. ONP has excellent descriptions on their web site.

The Wonderland Trail is the best known of a number of trails around volcanoes in the Pacific NW, and it's the only one that is complete right now. The Loowit Trail around Mt. St. Helens was damaged in Nov. 2006 and I'm pretty sure it hasn't been repaired. The Mt. Adams Highline Trail always has gone only 3/4 of the way around the mountain, so you have to backtrack or cross glaciers really high up. And the Timberline Trail around Mt. Hood is closed at the Eliot Glacier Creek section on the NE side of the mountain, where the geography was completely rearranged in Nov. 2006. A number of people made it through there last summer, but there is a several hundred dollar fine if you're caught in the closed section. While Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Parks received quite a bit of funds for repairs after the '06 floods, the National Forests received basically nothing.

I know nothing about shuttles to/from Mt. Rainier, but you might want to ask the question on NW Hikers.net, a Seattle-area forum. The MRNP website mentions Grayline Tours. Here's more info on the Wonderland Trail. Check specifically the info on camping permits.
Posted by: haikublue

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/24/08 07:36 AM

wow! such a lot of information to sink my teeth into! Thanks! I sooo love the planning of these things!
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/27/08 10:48 PM

Bad news on GrayLine Tours; I checked their site. It seems they won't take hikers to/from Mt. Rainier. Evidently it detracts from the tour "experience." Must be the BO. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />However, see this thread on nwhikers.net started by someone with a similar problem. It looks as though there are quite a few people in the Seattle area offering to help out! If you were planning to hike the Portland area at a time I'm here, I'd be quite willing, too! But I'm a long way from Rainier and will (I hope) be gone most of late July and August.

If you're coming by train, note that the Coast Starlight is always late, often by many hours. I used to take it coming back to Portland from Seattle (where the southbound train originates) and it was always a couple of hours late getting into Portland. It's a nice train, though, and by taking the train you don't have to worry about having to check your pocket knife or trekking poles or leaving your stove (or at least your fuel) behind as you do when traveling by air.
Posted by: kevonionia

Drop in on the Wonderland Trail - 01/28/08 07:39 PM

What OM didn't tell you is what you can't do on that train.

If you fly, you may have to check your pocket knife and trekking poles, but they'll still let you on with your parachute as long as it fits in the overhead. Then, halfway to Seattle (or Portland), you can do a D.B. Cooperesque hijacking, have them open the door (those 727s are gone, so no aft stairs) over Mt. Rainier and see if you can land somewhere in the vicinity of the Longmire Wilderness Information Center so you can pick up your provisioning cache and get an early start on the Wonderland Trail the next morning.

(Note: one possible hitch is finding a seat on a Northwest Orient flight PDX to SEA.)
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Drop in on the Wonderland Trail - 01/28/08 10:15 PM


DB Cooper, where are you?
Posted by: sarbar

Re: Wonderland Trail - 01/29/08 07:31 AM

I have helped people get there and back before. All I charge is the cost of gas. That can be cheap or pricey depending on if I am in the biodiesel Benz or the gas chugging Explorer.....

I prefer giving ladies rides, not men...but that is understandable, no?

It isn't easy these days getting to Rainier on public transportation.
Posted by: phat

Re: Drop in on the Wonderland Trail - 01/29/08 06:36 PM


DB Cooper, where are you?

The way I heard it told, he made it down ok, and was hiking out light but had nothing to heat his food with. He met someone on the trail who showed him how to bash holes in a cat food can with a rock and gave him a bottle of alcohol in exchange for his "ultralight" airline pillow. The helpful stranger told him he could probably find or make a more efficient design, and he's been too preoccupied with boil tests to resurface yet.
Posted by: cheap

Re: Drop in on the Wonderland Trail - 02/05/08 05:17 AM

DB Cooper's actual name was Paul Cotton.
He died of a heart attack a while ago. We can thank him for all the extra airport security.
Posted by: Earthling

Re: Drop in on the Wonderland Trail - 02/07/08 01:38 PM

There with you on that Phat <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />