The trail to Summer Land is one of the most popular trails in Mt. Rainier National Park. If solitude is what your seeking choose another trail. This one leads to the head of Fryingpan Creek from White River Road, then crosses alpine terrain to Panhandle Gap. The trail gains nearly 4,000 feet in this 6 mile ascent. This track follows the Wonderland Trail practically from the onset. The Wonderland Trail continues beyond Panhandle Gap to Ohanapecosh Park and Indian Bar Camp.
The Summerland Trail begins where the Fryingpan Creek flows beneath the White River Road. A few minutes from the trailhead the trail joins the Wonderland Trail leading southward along Fryingpan Creek. The route begins very close to the creek then veers away from it as it climbs through the valley. Approximately one mile from the trailhead the track crosses a small tributary to Fryingpan Creek. Within a half mile of this stream crossing the trail reaches another small tributary to Fryingpan Creek.
Beyond this second stream crossing the trail begins a series of long switchbacks. These switchbacks provide excellent views of the lower portion of Fryingpan Creek. At the top of these switchbacks the trail reaches a height of 4,400 feet.
Above the switchbacks the tread continues to climb steadily. It remains on the northern bank of Fryingpan Creek for the next mile and a half. A third stream crossing occurs approximately a quarter mile before crossing Fryingpan Creek. On the southern side of Fryingpan Creek the trail gradient remains moderate for a quarter mile before becoming very steep. Several switchbacks and an elevation gain of 400 feet brings hikers into Summer Land. The camp lies left of the trail four miles from the trailhead.
Beyond Summerland Camp the trail continues to climb southeastward. The terrain within the mile and a half between Summerland Camp and Panhandle Gap lies above timber line. Much of this portion of the trail traverses rocky moraine left behind by the Fryingpan Glacier. The elevation gained in this segment of trail is 840 feet. Beyond Panhandle Gap the trail leads through relatively level Ohanapecosh Park then descends to Indian Bar.
Directions: From White River Entrance, Drive westward on White River Road 3 miles to a parking area near the Fryingpan Creek bridge. The trailhead is across the road. Parking space is limited and fills early on sunny summer days. Have an alternate hike in mind in case parking space is not available.
Elevation: 3,800 feet
Ending Elevation: 6,750 feet
Usage: Very Heavy
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Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
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