Backpacking the Wonderland Trail | Mount Rainier 2020 | Hiking the Northern Loop via Sunrise // The Northern Loop Trail (off of the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park) is a total of 34 miles from Sunrise and 44.8 miles from the Carbon River Entrance. If you’re looking for serenity and fewer bootprints, consider checking out the Northern Loop. On the north side of Mount Rainier, the Northern Loop takes you through wilderness with a high mountain pass (Windy Gap), includes a junction for a natural bridge, the junction for Lake Eleanor, provides frequent opportunities for bear sightings, passes through several subalpine areas and crosses over the West Fork White River. Campsites on the Northern Loop include: Berkeley Park Camp, Fire Creek Camp, James Camp and Yellowstone Cliffs Camp.

Backcountry Permit Required.

On Friday, July 3rd, 2020, we set out from Sunrise to backpack the Northern Loop, counter clockwise, via the Wonderland Trail at Mount Rainier in four days. We encountered all kinds of early season obstacles – snow, huge tree blowdowns, nerve wrecking water crossings, Windy Gap 100% covered in snow which required two different GPS systems to navigate, sleeping on snow one night at Yellowstone Cliffs Camp and crossing the scariest snow-covered steep mountain pass I’ve ever had the pleasure of crossing in my life (Skyscraper Pass.) On our last day, we were gifted with incredible views of Mount Rainier as we made our way to the top of Skyscraper Pass.

For this trip, we clocked in a total of:
33.7 Miles
9,967 feet of ascent
10,001 feet of descent
…and countless memories.

Our original trip itinerary:

Trip Dates: 7/3/2020 – 7/6/2020
Entry Trailhead: Sunrise Trailhead
Friday, July 3rd: Fire Creek Camp
Saturday, July 4th: Carbon River Camp
Sunday, July 5th: Mystic Camp
Monday, July 6th: Exit Sunrise Trailhead

Our actual trip itinerary:

Day One: 7/3/2020: Sunrise to Fire Creek Camp
Camped at Fire Creek Camp (no snow)
Miles: 7.6
Ascent: 961 feet
Descent: 2,663 feet

Day Two: 7/4/2020: Fire Creek Camp to Yellowstone Cliffs Camp
Camped at Yellowstone Cliffs Camp (campsite covered in snow)
Miles: 7.8
Ascent: 2,848 feet
Descent: 2,448 feet

Day Three: 7/5/2020: Yellowstone Cliffs Camp to Mystic Lake Camp
Camped at Mystic Lake Camp (no snow at campsite)
Miles: 8.8
Ascent: 3,352 feet
Descent: 2,951 feet

Day Four: 7/6/2020: Mystic Lake Camp to the car
Miles: 9.5
Ascent: 2,806 feet
Descent: 1,939 feet


Kathleen Neves
c/o: The Hungry Hiker
451 E. North Bend Way, Box 915
North Bend, WA 98045-8777


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