Jun 17, 2014 at 11:02 am #1318055Jun 17, 2014 at 11:17 am #2112197
Nice write-up. Thanks. I gotta to this some day.
The assignment of particular campsites on particular days is kind of obnoxious though.Jun 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm #2112216
Great information with equally as nice photos. I've lived in Seattle my whole life, but have yet to hike the trail. I too have a difficult time having to stay at assigned campsites. I fully understand the reasoning and would never go against it. Heck, I'll be hiking up to Camp Muir this Saturday for a nice tele-ski down to Paradise.Jun 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm #2112231
"I fully understand the reasoning…"
Yeah, for sure. Just too many people. Same with Olympic National Park.
But the reason there's so many people is because they're so nice. And they have a little more to spend on bridges across streams and so forth.
If you can be a little flexible you can find a plan to work. And if not this year, then next…Jun 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm #2112285
I've tried and failed two years in a row to get a permit. The rangers tell me that too many people apply who aren't really serious as there is no financial loss if you don't show.
The Seattle Times without fail, writes up a glowing article in the Northwest Travel section three days before applications are accepted. Result: 1500 applications in two weeks and rangers working in shifts for weeks to figure out camp assignments.
Sometimes I think a $100-200 refundable fee for circumnavigators would be fair, to be returned when you pick up your permit or to go towards park costs if you don't. That way people who really want to do this and support the outdoors would have a better chance.
When I hiked the Canada WCT I had to pay this much and did it gladly.Jun 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm #2112303
@ewolinLocale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
My family and I did the Wonderland trail for our 25th wedding anniversary in late Jul, 2006. It was our first long hike and our first attempt at UL (homemade tarps and quilts, light hiking shoes, etc). We did it on the leisurely side, 13 nights, and enjoyed every minute (the Spray Park option was a great choice).
I wholeheartedly recommend taking as much time as you can on the trail…there's absolutely nothing wrong with low-mileage days allowing you lots of time for rock-hopping in rivers, enjoying the scenery, birdwatching, navel-gazing, whatever. This is one of the premier trails in the world and you'll never regret taking the extra time.
My wife and I can't wait to get back, and when we do we'll probably spend around 13 nights on it again.
Note…you can mail supplies via the USPS to some of the ranger stations along the trail.Jun 18, 2014 at 7:59 am #2112398
@idahomtmanLocale: Northern Idaho
I did the Wonderland solo in five days back in 2009. I did my research regarding camps and got my permit without changes. I had nearly perfect weather with only one day with a thunderstorm. I had intended to hike in 2008 but trail damage from the previous fall resulted in my decision to defer for a year.
I started at White River and headed clockwise camping at Indian Bar which was stunning and definitely worth the stop but I got there by noon and could easily have made more miles. Second camp was Paradise River, then South Puyallup, fourth night at South Mowich and then Mystic Lake for my final evening. I do feel constrained by the assigned camps as I prefer more flexibility, but such is the permit system at MRNP. I would likely select some different camps the next time.
The fact that you circle the mountain and each day provides different views of the same mountain is definitely enjoyable. The wildflowers were intense at the end of July when I did my thru hike. I did see bears and some other wildlife. I liked the fact the NPS provides a bear hang at each campsite which avoids having to carry a bear canister. Given the great weather, I was generally too warm at night and would likely change some of my gear selections, but otherwise my SUL pack worked great.
Thanks for the enjoyable article and an opportunity to remember my Wonderland trip.Jun 18, 2014 at 8:04 am #2112401
"The assignment of particular campsites on particular days is kind of obnoxious though."
Had to deal with the same thing for a hike at N. Cascades NP last year. Not my first preference but the scenery and trail more than make up for it. I was relieved to see that for the most part, Oly Park is a bit more flexible when I was there last week.
For anyone planning this trip, long story short, I had an issue where I couldn't access my food cache at Sunrise last year. This is even after speaking with the rangers at Longmire at the beginning of my hike to confirm that my food would be moved from the Sunrise ranger's office to the food box. Fortunately for me, a ranger had to make an unscheduled run to Sunrise and was able to get my bucket out of his office.
This year I'm going to cache my food at White River which is only a couple/few miles away from Sunrise.Jun 18, 2014 at 8:21 am #2112405
Some places in Olympic National Park like Grand Valley or Sand Point/Cape Alava have a quota so you can have the same problem, but it's not quite so crowded and there are lots of nice alternatives so you can usually find somethingJun 18, 2014 at 9:04 am #2112417
I just wanted to make a quick comment about the Wonderland Trail, since I have worked at Rainier since 2006… First off, don't be intimidated if you did not get a reservation. We do save roughly 30% of the sites for "first-come-first-serve." If you are flexible with your itinerary (starting point, dates, Keeping your party size under 6 people, direction, and mileage), we're pretty good at getting something to work out for you, if not the entire trip, then a big chunk of the trip.
I also want to clarify that if you are doing the Wonderland Trail you MUST stay in one of the designated sites (camping 1/2 mile off the trail is NOT permitted as indicated in the article) along the route in order to preserve this wonderful wilderness. With over 2,000 reservation requests received this season, you can imagine the havoc that could cause if we didn't have quotas in the park's wilderness management plan.
I hope this helps some folks in planning their trip.
This URL will also help in your planning process:
http://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/wilderness-camping-and-hiking.htmJun 18, 2014 at 9:30 am #2112429
First off, thanks for all the good/hard work you and the NPS do. All of the staff I've interacted with at Rainier have been pleasant and professional. I'm also glad you brought up wilderness camping as my understanding of the policy is what you just confirmed.
It's remarkable that with all of the people who hike through the Wonderland every year, it remains in such pristine condition. Again, thanks to you.Jun 18, 2014 at 10:00 am #2112440
@dpexLocale: Pacific NW
Little bug shoe is correct, Crosscountry Zone Camping (at least a 1/4 mile off the trail) is not allowed for those doing the complete Wonderland Trail. I apologize for this error.
-Dave PexJun 18, 2014 at 10:14 am #2112443
@lunchandynnerLocale: Pacific Northwest
Me and my wife will be doing the Wonderland Trail starting at Longmire from 8/23-8/28!!!!
First time applying for permits and we got it! So excited. Will be the most nights out/mileage on a trip we've ever done!!Jun 18, 2014 at 10:49 am #2112452
A fine article. The first of my four times around the mountain was 37 years ago with my eight year old son. We went clockwise. We also saw 99 mountain goats. The next time I went counterclockwise and enjoyed the different views and meeting the approuch of other hikers. In 2002 I again went clockwise and finished the hike in 7 days at age 66. The last two years I sectioned hike the trail with my son-in-law. All these hikes were done with walkup permits. This year my son-in-law, Grandson, and I have a permit for late Aug. for a 13 day hike around the mountain. It is such a beautiful hike and my thanks to all those that work so hard to maintain the trail and beauty of the park.
GeezerbillJun 19, 2014 at 4:40 pm #2112848
@kevperroLocale: Washington State
I had mine rejected for a 2nd week of Sept start date (Thursday start, single person).
My plan is to just show up and try to get in that 30% number. It does put a crimp in my plans as I'm not sure if/when to send resupply food.
But….I figure with one person I should be able to get it done.Jun 19, 2014 at 4:43 pm #2112854
OMFG! littlebugshoe, can I pet your avatar! Please!Jun 19, 2014 at 4:49 pm #2112859
You may not get the campsites you want but if you are modestly flexible with your schedule, you shouldn't have a problem getting an acceptable itinerary as a walk-up.Jun 19, 2014 at 6:19 pm #2112891
I hope do this sometime in the near future, while it certainly won't be overly leisurely- I want to do it as a run ( I'm sure there will be plenty of walking on the uphills :) )- covering roughly 30-ish miles/day for three days total. At that pace should still be able to soak up lots of the views. Early to mid September sounds like an ideal time to visit
thanks for the articleJun 20, 2014 at 9:47 pm #2113277
@kevperroLocale: Washington State
Oh I am flexible on campsites…. I only have 7-8 days so that is a limitation but I don't care which direction I go, where I start/finish nor what exact camp sites I hit.Jun 21, 2014 at 9:28 pm #2113526
With eight days, if you have a lightweight pack, you'll be fine. You have something in the neighborhood of 5 or so trailheads where you can start and the rangers are really good at helping hikers sort out a permit.
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