Panhandle Gap Trail

Greenwater, Washington

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1 Review
5 out of 5
I’ll admit it: I think this is the single most spectacular day hike in the entire park. It’s also one of the toughest, but the workout is well worth the effort. This section of the Wonderland Trail is also the highest of that entire 94-mile loop route. The section of trail leading up the Fryingpan Creek basin isn’t all that spectacular, but once you get high, the beauty stacks up like cordwood until the sheer splendor of the route nearly overwhelms you. The wildflower meadows of Summerland are staggeringly beautiful. The rock and ice basin below Fryingpan Glacier is wonderful. Then you crest the last rocky ridge at Panhandle Gap and see the vast alpine world of Ohanapecosh Park stretched out to the south, with the spires of the Cowlitz Chimneys punctuating the eastern skyline and massive Mount Rainier towering over it all to the west. Chances are also good you’ll see one of the large local herds of mountain goats either browsing or napping in one of the meadows or snowfields.
Day Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Day Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park

by Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer (The Mountaineers Books)

I’ll admit it: I think this is the single most spectacular day hike in the entire park. It’s also one of the toughest, but the workout is well worth the effort. This section of the Wonderland Trail is also the highest of that entire 94-mile loop route. The section of trail leading up the Fryingpan Creek basin isn’t all that spectacular, but once you get high, the beauty stacks up like cordwood until the sheer splendor of the route nearly overwhelms you.

The wildflower meadows of Summerland are staggeringly beautiful. The rock and ice basin below Fryingpan Glacier is wonderful. Then you crest the last rocky ridge at Panhandle Gap and see the vast alpine world of Ohanapecosh Park stretched out to the south, with the spires of the Cowlitz Chimneys punctuating the eastern skyline and massive Mount Rainier towering over it all to the west. Chances are also good you’ll see one of the large local herds of mountain goats either browsing or napping in one of the meadows or snowfields.

©  Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Greenwater
Distance: 12
Elevation Gain: 2,950 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Difficult
Season: June–Oct
Trailhead Elevation: 3,800 feet
Top Elevation: 6,800 feet
Local Contacts: Sunrise Ranger Station
Local Maps: Green Trails Mount Rainier East, No. 270
Driving Directions: Directions to Panhandle Gap Trail

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Apr 2018