Located in Mt. Rainier National Park, the Wonderland Trail loops its way around the majestic Mt. Rainier over the course of 93 mi. The presence of Mt. Rainier alone would make for an impressive hike. In actuality, the trail intermittently leaves the views of Mt. Rainier behind to offer views of temperate rain forests, alpine meadows, and lush volcanic valleys.
The trail can be completed by backpackers with reasonable experience in 6-10 days. Your main challenges along the way will be dealing with the constant elevation gain and loss throughout the trip and the potential for heavy rainfall. With the right attitude though, these challenges will not distract you from the sheer beauty of the area.
Most years, the times available to hike the Wonderland Trail are between July and October when the snow has melted enough to reveal the trail to hikers. While August might initially seem like the best month to hike the trail as the weather is a bit warmer and there are still flowers in bloom, the demand for permits is also higher and the mosquitoes are out in full force. With that in mind, we recommend that you get a permit at any point in September. While you might experience cooler temperatures and more rainfall, the chances of getting a permit are higher and you'll run into fewer mosquitoes.
The Wonderland Trail is located in Mt. Rainier National Park, 84.5 mi southeast of Seattle. Most visitors will arrive from the Seattle area or Seattle's main airport Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). From here your best option is to rent a car. Currently, there are no shuttle or bus services that take people directly to Mt. Rainier National Park. The closest you could get with public transportation is taking a train to Puyallup Station. But even then, you will still have to take an Uber or taxi the rest of the way. It's still a long distance and would be expensive considering you would need to a taxi back as well. Renting or driving your own car will allow you to have more control over the timing of your trip with significantly less hassle.
While there are several official trailheads, the most popular one is at the Longmire Wilderness Information Center. To get there. drive east on Hwy 706 from Ashford for 10 mi. The center is located in the Longmire Historic District, 6.5 mi past the Nisqually Entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park.