Summerland – Panhandle Gap – 07-26-2014

Mountaineers hike to Summerland and Panhandle Gap.

Participants include Nicole Hansen (leader), Heidi Walker (co-leader), Lisa Bellero, Bryn Bohanon, Diane Camenisch, Kim Frasher, Jennifer Law, Katie McNett, Liz McNett, Nancy Musgrove, Shae Rothwell, Jennifer Siembor, and Barbara Price.

Summerland – Panhandle Gap – 07-26-2014 (Fullscreen Slideshow)

References:

  • Day Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park Trails, by Dan Nelson and Alan Bauer, Summerland – Panhandle Gap
  • Green Trails Mount Rainier East No. 270

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. .

Driving Directions
From Enumclaw, drive east 43 miles on State Route 410 to the Mount Rainier National Park White River Entrance. Veer right onto Sunrise Road and follow it 4 miles to the trailhead parking area near the bridge over Fryingpan Creek.
Trailhead GPS coordinates (46.8884, -121.6110)
National Park entry fee or pass required.

Hiking Stats:
12.08 miles, 3219 ft. gain, 9 hrs 9 min.

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