Mount Rainier Wonderland TrailA breathtaking adventure in the shadow of Rainier

Washington
Washington
7 Days
7 Days
Intensity
7/10
18+
$1,595
$1,695 non-peak member
About the trip

Adventures in Wonderland

Mount Rainier National Park encompasses the 370 square miles around the awe-inspiring 14,411 foot peak. The Wonderland Trail, which circles the base of the mountain, is considered one of the most beautiful backpacking trails in the United States. Our journey will include the highlights of the park as we explore the multiple trails, glaciers, and stretches of wilderness in the shadow of mighty Rainier. We'll first visit the beautiful Mowich Lake, which will serve as our base camp for hikes to Spray Park and Tolmie Peak. On day three, it's time to load up our packs and embark on a four-day backpacking adventure on the Wonderland Trail and Northern Loop, a remote stretch of absolutely breathtaking wilderness. From the wildflowers by your feet to the glaciers on the mountain above, there's no shortage of beauty to take in as the miles tick by.

We'll work as a team on our expedition, learning backcountry safety, backpacking techniques, and taking on challenges together. Our reward will be the profound solace and beauty that only time in the backcountry can provide. We will have two Discover Outdoors guides to assist with any contingency plans, and to uphold our singular goal for you to have an amazing and safe experience.

Your Guide
Lauren Skonieczny
Senior Guide
Director of Operations

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Level 7/10
Washington
7 Days

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Itinerary

Arrival in Seattle, Drive to Mowich Lake

Upon landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, you'll be greeted by your team of Discover Outdoors Guides. You'll join your fellow hikers on the drive to Mowich Lake camp (two hours), a drive-up campground with basic amenities and access to the van. Upon arriving at camp, your guides will instruct you on camping protocol, assist with gear questions, and prepare dinner. Tonight is about getting to know the group, answering questions, and getting comfortable before settling into bed. (Meals: D)

Tolmie Peak and Spray Park Hikes

Today will be our first day on the trail as a team and is our chance to test out gear and get comfortable with hiking as a group. Our morning hike to Tolmie Peak is a moderate six miles where we'll ascend to the summit's fire tower. This outlook offers stunning views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding mountain lakes. After lunch back at camp, we'll take an afternoon hike to Spray Falls and Spray Park. Our ascent will be our first taste of the switchbacks we'll encounter in the coming days but the effort is well worth it as you emerge onto the level plateau of the park, alpine wildflowers dotting the landscape below the massive mountains. (Meals: B, L, D)
Hiking Distance: 12 milesHiking Time: 8 hoursElevation Gain: 2,080 feet | Elevation Loss: 2,080 feet

Drive to Sunrise, Backpack to Granite Creek

We'll wake up early today to pack up camp and take a scenic drive to the Sunrise trailhead in the northeast corner of the park with a stop for lunch (not included) and a chance to pick up any last minute gear. Before setting off, we'll do a final gear check and pack review to ensure we're fully prepared to spend the next three days in the backcountry. Our first day of backpacking is kept relatively short to help the group adjust to carrying a pack. The weight of your pack may come as a surprise, and we'll take lots of breaks to adjust, refuel, and take plenty of photos. Still, you'll be relieved to drop your pack for the short side hike up Skyscraper Mountain, our highest point of the trip at 7,078'. Keep an eye out for mountain goats and marmots as we descend from the open trail into the dense, green forest below. Tonight we'll sleep at Granite Creek. (Meals: B, D)

Hiking Distance: 5.5 milesHiking Time: 4 hoursElevation Gain: 1,200 feet | Elevation Loss: 3,000 feet

Granite Creek to Carbon River

Today will be our chance to get close up views of the many glaciers and rivers emerging from Rainier. Our day begins with a descent to the Winthrop Glacier for a break by the thundrous Garda Falls, observing the blues and greys of the gushing water flowing from the ice. Feeling rested, we'll begin an ascent to the aptly named Mystic Lake. The climb will be worth it and we can enjoy a well-earned break by the water's edge, surrounded by the peaks of Mineral Mountain and Old Desolate. Just a bit more climbing awaits before a long descent alongside the massive Cabon Glacier, which is not only the lowest glacier in contiguous US, but also the longest, thickest, and biggest by volume. You'll be thankful for your trekking poles as we lose almost 3,000' in four miles. Our day ends with a thrilling crossing over the carbon river on a suspension bridge to get to camp. (Meals: B, L, D)
Hiking Distance: 8.9 milesHiking Time: 8 hoursElevation Gain: 1,800 feetfeet | Elevation Loss: 3,800 feet

Carbon River to Fire Creek

Today will be our most challenging day of hiking, but with the remoteness and beauty as we turn onto the Northern Loop, it will also be one of the most memorable. Our day begins with three of the most challenging miles of the trip as we follow the switchbacks up from Carbon River, gaining 3,000 feet before arriving at the aptly named Yellowstone Cliffs. Our hike through Windy Gap is the most colorful of the trip and we'll find ourselves again surrounded by alpine flora, including beargrass, purple lupine, and orange columbia lillies. Stop for a break in the gap, or, if you're feeling strong, join a side hike to the Natural Bridge, a fascinating two-foot wide stone that rises 200 feet from the valley below. Descending back into the forest, we'll pass lake James before another big ascent to finish the day at Fire Creek Camp. (Meals: B, L, D)
Hiking Distance: 12 milesHiking Time: 10 hoursElevation Gain: 5,500 feet | Elevation Loss: 3,000 feet

Fire Creek to Sunrise, Transfer to Seattle

We'll continue to ascend out of the river valley before reaching a wonderful stretch of flat trail through Grand Park, where we'll again see the familiar sight of Rainier again. The landscape today is a mix of the types we've seen so far: dense forests, alpine meadows, and rocky peaks. After passing through Berkeley Park, the ladscape will look even more familiar as we join again with the Wonderland Trail before arriving back at Sunrise. We'll take some time for final photos before we depart from the park and drive back to Seattle. From here, you'll have the option to be taken directly to the airport for an evening flight or you can add-on an evening with the group in a city hotel for a shower and a good night's sleep. Those who elect to stay the extra night are invited to a group dinner in Seattle to celebrate this amazing adventure. (Meals: B)
Hiking Distance: 7.2 milesHiking Time: 5 hoursElevation Gain: 1,500 feet | Elevation Loss: 1,000 feet

Transfer to Seattle-Tacoma Airport

After what will likely be one of the best sleeps you've ever had, you'll be transfered to Seattle-Tacoma Airport for your final departure. We'll bid farewell before hopping on our flights back home, invigorated, refreshed, and forever changed. (Meals: No meals provided)
Planning

Here’s what you need

Bring

Essential Gear
  • Backpack, sized 55-75 L
  • Backpacking Tent (available to rent for an additional fee)
  • Sleeping Bag, rated 20 degrees or lower (available to rent for an additional fee)
  • Sleeping Pad (available to rent for an additional fee)
  • Water bottles or Camelbak, 3L total minimum capacity
  • Headlamp
  • Mug, bowl, and utensil
  • Small towel or facecloth
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
Recommended Gear
  • Trekking Poles
  • Camera
  • Book
  • Journal
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Gaiters

Wear

Essential Clothing
  • Hiking boots, waterproof with sturdy soles
  • Wool hiking socks, multiple pairs
  • Long sleeve base layers (synthetic and moisture wicking)
  • Long pant base layer (synthetic and moisture wicking)
  • Light synthetic shirt or tank for warmer days
  • Hiking pants or shorts (at least one pair should be long pants)
  • Insulating mid layers (fleece jacket or vest, down jacket)
  • Waterproof, windproof shell
  • Light gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Balaclava or buff
  • Casual clothes for camp

Trip Package

Included
  • Round Trip Transportation from Seattle
  • Licensed and medically trained guide team
  • Meals as outlined in itinerary
  • Group equipment
  • Park permits and fees
Not included
  • Airfare to Seattle
  • Personal gear and equipment
  • Meals not outlined in itinerary
  • Gratuity for guides
  • Final night of accommodations (optional add-on upon check out)

Flights

This trip departs from Seattle. If you're not arriving into Seattle in advance or staying past the duration of the trip, your flight should arrive no later 12 PM on day one of the itinerary and depart anytime on day seven. Those departing from Seattle should plan to meet at Arc'teryx on Northwest 23rd at 11 AM on day one. You'll return by about 5 PM on the sixth day of the itinerary.

Lodging

Each night (with the exception of the optional final night in Seattle) will be spent at camp. If you do not have your own backpacking tent, you can opt to rent one. Nights one and two will be a Mowich Lake, a "drive up" campground where you will have access to the van and privies. Starting on day three, we will be backpacking and all gear, food, and equipment will be carried by the group. Campsites along the route are established sites with privies, bear boxes or poles, and water sources.

For those traveling from outside of Seattle or wishing to stay with the group, please be sure to select the optional add-on for a hotel room on the final night of the itinerary. Stays will be at a hotel near Bellevue with double, shared accommodations.

Weather

The high mountain areas have extremely variable weather. The evenings can turn cold and the days can warm up substantially, even in the alpine environment. Strong winds, rain, hail, even the occasional snow shower may be encountered. Daytime time temperatures typically range between 55-75 degrees. Overnight lows typically range from 35-50 degrees.

Training

This trip does not require technical climbing skills or experience. It does, however, require a high level of physical fitness. We strongly encourage our hikers to experience hiking on rugged trails, particularly up and down steep hills, while carrying weight. The difference in difficulty while carrying the weight of a fully loaded backpack can sometimes come as a surprise to hikers, so you are encouraged to try challenging day hikes with a weighted backpack. Those who are in good shape are more likely to enjoy the experience and the views along the trail.

Give yourself adequate time to prepare, particularly if this form and intensity of exercise is new. For three days a week, focus on an hour or more of aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, swimming, etc. Gym equipment such as stairmasters and rowing machines can supplement cardiovascular training. Day hikes or other longer endeavors will help you prepare for the endurance required for a backpacking trip. Carrying a 20 to 30 pound pack uphill on trails or stadium steps will simulate the real climb better than anything. Lifting moderate weights to increase core body, leg, and arm strength is also a good idea. Focus on quads and hamstrings—legs need strength and endurance. Being generally fit and having some solid stamina for long days is the overall goal.

Upon registration, a member of the DO team will consult on your experience and fitness and recommend a regimen for training.

Why this trip?

Recommended for...

This is the perfect trip for experienced hikers looking for a challenging backcountry experience. We recommend this trip for participants who have a moderate to high level of fitness and basic outdoor skills. Previous backpacking experience is helpful but is not required. Those will a base level of fitness are encouraged to train for about three months prior to the trip.

Dates and Prices

The right trip,
at the right time.

Start
Finish
Availability
Price From
Saturday
Sep 14, 2019
Friday
Sep 20, 2019
Available
$1,595

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