Backpack - Summerland, Panhandle Gap & Indian Bar


Backpack - Summerland, Panhandle Gap & Indian Bar

This strenuous shoulder-season backpack traverses a hugely scenic 15.6-mile section of the Wonderland trail with 4021 feet of gain and 5842 feet of loss on the east side of Mt Rainier. Permits were obtained at one of the leader's favorite Wonderland camps - Indian Bar. On day 1 we'll stage vehicles and then start south from Fryingpan Creek TH, walking 8.5 miles and 3512 feet of gain on day one (including potentially an angled-snowfield crossing on microspikes), and 6.9 miles with about 1400' gain on day two, ending at Box Canyon. Leader permission is required and participants must be able to demonstrate recent experience traveling at a steady 2mph pace with a backpack for at least 8.5 miles and 3500 feet of gain, as well as experience traveling through difficult weather. Ppermission requests will not be accepted before registration opens.

  • Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 15.6 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 4,021 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 6,768 ft
  • Pace: 2.0 mph

We will coordinate carpools and arrange for a vehicle (or 2-3 depending on size of the roster) to be left  at Box Canyon while the drivers are shuttled back to the Fryingpan Creek trailhead for the start of the trip.  We will try to start on the trail by no later than 11AM. At the end of the second day we will arrive at Box Canyon and shuttle back to Fryingpan Creek TH to pick up the other car.

This section of the Wonderland trail around Mt Rainier includes camps at two of the leader's favorite locations on the entire trail, at Summerland and at Indian Bar.  We get up close and personal with the mountain, cross one of the highest passes on the Wonderland, and wander down an incredibly scenic long ridge with views forever to the mountain and terrain south and east.  The backpacking days are:

1.  Fryingpan Creek to Indian Bar Camp:   8.4 miles, 3512' gain, 4100' loss

2.  Indian Bar Camp to Box Canyon parking lot:  7.2 miles, 1515' gain, 3521' loss

We will move steadily at a 2mph pace during the day, with occasional rest stops and some exploring up and down ridges after arriving at camp if time and energy allow.  It'll be coming into the shoulder season so foliage color should be spectacular and we may hear elk bugling.  But the weather could change fast, so everyone will need to be experienced with difficult wet and cold weather and demonstrate that they have the gear to stay safe and comfortable in those conditions.  If conditions are truly miserable the trip may have to be canceled, or could be moved to Chinook Pass-to-Basin Lake.

Leader permission is required and each applicant should include the details of their recent (2024 season) backpacking trips including length, elevation gain and loss, and pace when they request permission.


Summerland & Panhandle Gap

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports