Thru-Hiker's Guide to America

Wonderland Trail Introduction
By E. Schlimmer
trail image
The thru-hiking season on the Wonderland Trail generally starts in July when drainages drop to fordable levels. The bare rock at Indian Bar indicates this stream's potential fury. (Photo © M. Shawn Lutgen)
Excerpted from Thru Hiker's Guide to America by E. Schlimmer

The Wonderland Trail (WT) is [a trail] that provides you with a convenient route of travel: the loop. You don't have to worry about getting back to the beginning of the trail from the end of the trail because the end is the beginning (unless you end early and then the end is, well, the end). The WT circles the massive 14,411-foot volcano Mount Rainier but reaches an elevation of only half that. Still, the overall size and expanse of Mount Rainier should blow most peoples' minds, especially East Coasters. Mount Rainier's base covers more than a hundred square miles, and the peak rises more than 8,000 vertical feet above the surrounding terrain. For days on end, a WT thru-hiker is rewarded with views of the surrounding lands of Washington and Oregon, as well as constant views of glaciers, snowfields, cliffs, and the summit cone of Washington's highpoint.

The WT has been voted the number-one long-distance trail by the readers of Backpacker magazine in past issues. The WT was also voted first in best scenery, first in best wildlife, third in best signage/trail marking, and second in best trail/camp/shelter conditions. These figures are quite impressive. No wonder this trail is so popular to hike! The WT also requires the shortest amount of time to complete compared to any other trail in the guide. Averaging 15 miles a day, you can complete the loop in less than a week.

Article © McGraw-Hill . All rights reserved.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »