Enjoy Happy Trails, the free monthly newsletter from Hiking For Her

Receive a free resource: "Hiking Layering System Explained"

Wonderland Trail Hiking:
Ready For Heavenly Hiking?

By Diane Spicer

Interested in Mount Rainier hiking? Find out about the Wonderland Trail around its base with these tips from Hiking For Her. #mountrainier #wonderlandtrail #hikingforher

Wonderland Trail Hiking doesn't use the Yellow Brick Road, although it’s near the Emerald City.

It’s better than that!

Rocks, roots, dirt- who needs bricks when you can hike on the WanderLand Trail?

And it’s in my backyard:

A necklace of wonder, strung around Mt. Rainier, in Washington State, only a short drive from Seattle (the aforementioned Emerald City).

So I've been down that trail a time or two.

Allow me to share some insights into planning the best Wonderland Trail hiking trip of your life.

Thinking of tackling
the Wonderland Trail?

What's the best way to do the Wonderland Trail?

In reality, there are lots of ways to tackle the 93 mile (150 km) Wonderland Trail.

I recommend you do it in bite sized chunks, with lots of diversions, in order to slowly savor this hiking opportunity.

  • Base camp at one of the Mount Rainier campgrounds.
  • Do serial day hikes until you've had your fill of the best day hiking this locale has to offer.
  • Move to another campground, and repeat.

However, many people complete the loop in 10 swift days.

Others take a few weeks.

But all of us return home very happy hikers.

Fundamentals to keep
Wonderland Trail hiking fun

If you’re considering this “long trail”, I’m assuming you know the basics of backpacking:

I also assume that you can face the psychological and physical impediments of gaining lots of elevation, only to lose it the same/next day (channeling your inner Sisyphus, in other words).

So we can skip all the “prep” stuff (although you have links above if you need to explore a topic) and get right to planning an itinerary.

Unless you're a brand new beginner, then read this first.

Some Wonderland Trail news
to slow you down

Here’s the bad news, right out of the gate:

you need permits to camp each night along the trail in the National Park, at assigned campsites.

And the way to get permits is to go head to head with the reservation system.

In other words: The Rangers.

Here is the Longmire administrative building.

Mt. Rainier National Park headquarters, Longmire WARainier National Park, administration building at Longmire WA

Within are the rangers.

  • They have the paperwork you need.
  • Be really, really nice to them even when you're having a bad day.

Now for the good news...

Here's the good news:

If you end your hike at Longmire, you can rest your sore feet on the front porch of the fabled Longmire Inn, and gaze upon Mount Rainier's majestic face.

Woman sitting on the porch of Longmire Inn, Mt. Rainier National Park, with her feet up after a long day of hikingThat's me, demonstrating the "my feet can breathe again" boots off post-hike ecstasy of sitting on the Longmire porch at day's end

Getting ready for
Wonderland Trail hiking

To be ready to fill out permit requests, you need expert advice from people who have planned, and executed, a Wonderland Trail hike.

Start by checking out this website, and note the woman who also wrote a book about how to tackle this trail.

  • Once you’ve read through her material, you’re ready to begin planning your own trip.

To dial in current information and secure the correct paperwork, you should turn to “the authorities”: the National Park Service, which dictates how many permits are awarded to hikers, and when.

Pay attention to all dates, rules and requirements, because these folks don't fool around.

Popular trail, so be flexible
with your hiking plans

The NPS recommends Wonderland Trail hiking in a clockwise direction, beginning at Longmire.

Tip: You may have a better chance of getting all of the required permits for the nights you need them if you remain flexible with your start and end dates.

  • And you can use the fall back position of camping in park campgrounds and day hiking sections of the Wonderland, as noted above, if nothing else works out.

Some amazing views and wildlife encounters await you, regardless of how you tackle this trail.

Mt. Rainier is not shy about sharing her spectacular beauty - even if she is the most dangerous active volcano in the USA!

Hiker looking at Mt. Rainier glaciersMt. Rainier viewpoint, well worth the sweat it took to get there! Washington State, USA

Are you sure you're a
long trail hiker?

For some tips on how to approach selecting the best long hiking trails for your personality and motivation, read this.

Happy Long Trail Planning!

Best Mount Rainier day hikes for you to explore: photos, trail descriptions and video!

You might like to read these next

Home page > Types of Hiking >

Wonderland Trail Hiking