Wonderland Backpacking Guide

The Best Wonderland Trail Backpacking Guide

Why do we go on a hiking trip?

To appreciate the beauty nature has to offer?

If that’s also your purpose of hiking, then your bucket list should include the Wonderland Trail. Because there’s hardly any better way to discover the beauty of nature than by backpacking at the Wonderland Trail. The iconic trail is located in Washington and truly a treat to watch.

Gargantuan glaciers, cascading waterfalls, thrilling wildlife encounters, sub-alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, spine-tingling suspension — the Wonderland Trail offers everything to feed stories of your lifetime!

The Wonderland Trail encompasses the glacial valleys and volcanic ridges extending from Mount Rainier. If you aren’t climbing one ridge, you’re arriving at the next valley. The whole hiking trip around the trail involves ascending and descending. You’re gonna have to cover 93 miles while ascending and descending 25,000+ feet of elevation. The elevation will really test your strength, stamina and of course the quality of your boots!

What to Expect

The Wonderland Trail encircles Mount Rainier and measures in somewhere around 93 miles. Most people finish the entire trail in about 10 days. The Park Service allocates 14 days to finish the trail, though. But, over 23,000 feet of elevation change will surely make the route challenging. After circumnavigating Mount Rainier, you will be pleased that you got to experience splendid glacier views, clear alpine lakes, meadows full of wildflowers and lush rainforest.


The Wonderland Trail requires a permit for an overnight trip. The Park Service also requires you to pick your campsites in advance of your trip. There has always been a very high demand for permits. So, you have to apply for a permit in many advances. You have to fill out a designated form to apply for a permit. Permit applications are usually received in March. Starting April 1, the Park Service will select the backpackers through a lottery process. If you are one of them, you will receive a letter stating you’re eligible. If you’re not one of them, then test your chances on a Walk-Up Permit.


The Wonderland Trail is so well marked. So, you will always know where you are going. It is likely that you are able to complete the trip without pulling it out. However, don’t leave your map at home just a couple of ounces. Make sure you bring your topographical map and compass on your trip. Learn how to use them, it’s a necessary skill.

Take Training on Elevation

You’ll be handling as many as 3,000-foot elevation gains and losses on your trip. So, it is important that you acquaint yourself with the elevation challenge of the Wonderland Trail. Start tackling some steep climbs before going on your actual trip.


The backpacking trip at the Wonderland Land will be strenuous. So, you will need plenty of nutrition and hydration. If you are relying on the trail’s many water sources, carry a water filtration system as well.

The Wonderland Trail – Quick Facts

  • Length: 93 miles
  • Average Hiking Time: 9-12 days
  • When to Go: July through September
  • Permits: Required

Bottom Line – with every turn, the Wonderland Trail is equipped to pour its scenic beauty and mesmerize the hikers. Your backpacking experience will remain incomplete unless you visited the Wonderland Trail. Thanks for reading!

Related post: 8 Wonderful Backpacking and Hiking Places in the  Pacific Northwest



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