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Wandering On The Wonderland

The weather outlook was not great for today (or for Sunday either!) but after looking at the big report for Rainier it didn’t sound awful. Cloudy with chance of showers and cold temps. Better than 90% chance o’ rain, right?Last day of Spring, it really seemed right. Considering we just ended a near full 30 day run of no rain, it being cool and misty felt good.

I was worried about parking for the trail picked. Gee, no worries today. Normally the trailhead on White River Road for The Wonderland is full by 9 am or earlier. Today….there was a whopping 3 cars. We were on the trail a bit late, being nearly 10:30 am. It was 46* at the car. Chilly did I mention?

The sun would poke out often, with a light breeze. Me in some styling trail clothes – shorts with a wool hoody/hat and gloves.


The Wonderland heading up towards Summerland looks like this for a lot of the way. Pleasant forest that lets the sun in. It is one of the smoothest trails you will ever walk on.


At about 2 miles you encounter the lower switchbacks where you pop out onto ledges above Fryingpan Creek’s gorge. You also start getting views. One I didn’t get a shot of is the low part of the ridge where you can walk up to from the other side, from Oywhigh Lakes, the ridge coming off of Tamanos Mountain.


Looking across the creek at the ridge across the way. There are too many waterfalls to count thundering off the snowfields.


There was misty clouds flittering over and around the peaks across the way.



The trail periodically opens up the higher you climb and in this one crosses a avy slope where the trees are all broken off at 10 feet high or so. Kirk and Ford ahead of me:


You leave the woods and climb quickly above the creek, then dip down to the crossing of Fryingpan Creek. To the right (not seen well in the photo) is the long ridge of Goat Island Mountain that you follow most of the way up from White River. Goat Island is very noticeable from the viewpoint on Hwy 410, looking down at the White River Valley.


The last time I stood here I realized was 2004, on my attempted thruhike of the Wonderland. The creek had changed quite a bit since then, running in a channel farther over. The bridge is nicer now, higher above the water. The first time I walked the bridge in 2003 the water was running over the top of the log.

Ford went out to the bridge and was crossing the minor unbridged second channel (where the old bridge had crossed if memory holds right).


Heading down, into the mist.


As we headed down the open slopes I had a memory of Ford’s first time on this section, in 2003. He had turned 6 and it was late Septemeber. The Huckleberries were on the verge of being overripe. As we headed down we had a face to face with a young male black bear who had been nibbling on berries. The bear had been so scared of us he tried to hide in the bushes….a few feet from us. I look back now and laugh. At the time I was scared, leg shaking scared. We had to pass the bear, within arms reach of his snout, after the bear wouldn’t budge. (How did I know it was a he? I reported the sighting to the ranger station and found out he was a shy 3 year old at the time.) It was a hike that I hope to never forget.

No views of Tahoma today (there are some nice ones just past the bridge in clear weather). There was something though you don’t get normally on a Saturday here: solitude. We had seen only an early rising couple on their way down the whole time. Just us and the squirels.

The way down went quickly in the cool weather, it was colder as we got closer to the road.

Loved these little orange guys popping out:


According to TOPO we did a shy 6 1/2 miles and 1400 feet gain. If we had continued onto the meadows of Summerland it would have been another 700 feet gain and a shy mile more. The meadows of course are why people come – along with the views of Rainier, but more so, the closeness of Little Tahoma.

So why did we not continue? Ahhhh….snow. While the trail to the creek was nearly snow free (just a few spots and all easily walked over), one could look across the creek and see snow aplenty over there. 5200 feet seems to be the snow level this week, by Monday I am sure it will be higher.

Route in red:


There is a reason people come here – views, wildlife and even that the trail is a dream to walk on. I love Tahoma – she is my favorite place to be, more so the White River/Sunrise side of the park. Being back after 6 months of winter is smile inducing. Now I wait the final week till Sunrise opens. Then once again the meadows of Yakima Park will be there for me to wander through.


3 thoughts on “Wandering On The Wonderland

  1. Hi Sarah, I am a little jealous that you got to hike the Wonderland trail before me. I would love to get the opportunity to hike it. Glad that your awesome journey. Your photos are so beautiful! You are so amazing and talented!!!!

  2. Excellent Report! It’s good to see the snow level still going up in that area. The Northern Loop trail needs to thaw so that I can hike the whole loop this year earlier than I tried last year. It was the other half of the season and the snow started…

  3. Jared,

    The snow levels are really good this year – so unlike the cold June we had last year! And in all truth, had it not been so cold we’d have continued onto Summerland proper 🙂 That the creek was snow free (and running low) it would have been pretty simple really.
    Saw photos of Sunrise from someone up there this weekend – it is melting out and is bare in many spots. Looks more like July 1st. Cannot wait for Sunrise to open!

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