View from the Indian Bar shelter, one of the backcountry camps on the Wonderland Trail

View from the Indian Bar shelter, one of the backcountry camps on the Wonderland Trail


A journey in and of itself, touring the backcountry camps located on the Wonderland Trail can be more than just informative. Yes, each camp tour showcases panoramic views with 3 camera stabilized video and a moving map. And each tour provides essential information about specific sites, water sources, location of toilets and bear poles. But nowhere else will you be able to soak in the views of Summerland, marvel in the blowdowns of Carbon River camp, or find the 'Hidden Gem" site at Maple Creek camp. Total time to tour: 2 hours and 15 minutes. Look for the AWARDS/NODS I've bestowed on certain sites in the individual descriptions. These camps appear in order, starting at Longmire and proceeding clockwise around the Wonderland. Now retired as a paid product.

PYRAMID CREEK This camp gets my nod for Most Unremarkable. Run time 4:23.

DEVIL’S DREAM Some sites are right off the trail with no privacy. Of particular note is the water source, which flows behind the camp. Later in the season this dries up and a trek up the trail to a more permanent tarn is in order.

SOUTH PUYALLUP RIVER This camp is noted for the hexagonal rock features below the sites on the South Puyallup River trail. Run time 5:28.

KLAPATCHE PARK Fabulous sunset views of Rainier and a tadpole haven known as Aurora Lake, the camp's water source. This may be dry later in the season and a trek to St. Andrews Lake will be in order. Run time 4:08.

NORTH PUYALLUP RIVER This camp gets my nod as Best Camp for Sunset Chillin'. Why? The prominent rock formations that dominate the view take on a golden hue as the sun sets. Enjoy this vista from polished rock overlooking the turbulent North Puyallup River. See which sites are a long trek to the loo. Run time 7:02.

GOLDEN LAKES What's not to like about a place with a high mountain lake, access to fabulous sunset views of Rainier in Sunset Park and a lofty view to a lower lake? See which sites you want to snag for the best experience. Run time 8:12.

SOUTH MOWICH RIVER Unusual in that site 1 is the shelter, one of the last remaining. If you've seen "Walkin' the Wonderland" you'll appreciate lounging on the rocks around the river as the sun wanes. Run time 4:11.

CARBON RIVER This camp gets my nod for Most Blowdowns. Enjoy the rugged layout that is off the main trail since the reroute. However, enjoy easy access to the suspension bridge and picturesque Marmot Creek. Run time 8:07.

EAGLE’S ROOST The first camp on the alternate route over Spray Park. Nestled in the trees but away from the cacophony of Mowich Lake, see which site allows the most privacy in this close-knit camp. Run time 5:53.

CATARACT VALLEY The second camp on the alternate route over Spray Park…with access to lower Seattle Park and what I consider the most picturesque creek around the mountain, this camp is probably overlooked in planning. However, I deem the group site here as Best Overall Site. Why? Excellent access to the water source and bear pole helps, but the solar toilet overlooking the open rocky hillside (which gets my nod as Best Throne for Communing With Wildlife) with squeaking pika is the icing on the cake. Run time 6:43.

MOWICH LAKE Although Mowich Lake is not a Wonderland Trail backcountry camp, it is used frequently by Wonderland Trail hikers as a resupply point. This camp site is basically a road loop with raised platforms. Although vehicles cannot drive to the sites, drive ins use wheelbarrows to take down their equipment. This camp can be noisy, boisterous and not real restful for Wonderland hikers due to easy access, but it does offer toilets with purell and food storage lockers. Note there is no running water here.

DICK CREEK With just 2 sites this camp is unremarkable. However, site 1 gets my nod as Best View from the Tent. I've camped here before and was able to look over the Carbon River under a full moon with barely lifting my head in a bivy bag. Run time 3:39.

MYSTIC CAMP One of the larger camps in the park, but you'll understand why the name doesn't include "lake." One of the better stops for a large group, as the group site is separated from the regular camp with its own amenities, plus it's huge. Run time 11:44.

GRANITE CREEK Just a pleasant camp, and site 3 gets my nod for Most Solitude. Run time 7:49.

SUNRISE Sunrise Walk In camp at least precludes people driving up to it, so you are more likely to get backpackers here or campers who have to schlep their stuff in, unlike Mowich Lake where campers can wheelbarrow their gear to the sites. Its proximity to Sunrise and relative ease of access can mean more noise and much less of a "backwoods" experience. Note that the building that used to house the toilet facilities is closed, as you can no longer drive in here. This means no running water, so Shadow lake will be your water source, pretty but a fair walk from some of the sites. One could still enjoy a spectacular nighttime walk here, bathed in moon glow.

WHITE RIVER White River walk in camp allows Wonderland Trail hikers a place to stay amidst the drive in camp. Wonderland hikers can take advantage of picnic tables, running water and (prior arranged) resupply. There is also a pay phone (configured for prepaid cards, no coin slot) at the camp entrance, affording contact during your hike if needed.

SUMMERLAND It's easy to see why this place would be popular even if it didn't have easy access. Sweeping views in an alpine meadow with (some) sites sequestered in private treed areas. Playful marmots accustomed to humans ignore your shutterbugging. If not for the plethora of people from day hikers, this could easily be Best Camp, and some may argue the point. Run time 11:56.

INDIAN BAR Scenic and harder to get to (distance wise), this camp boasts eye candy from distant cascading falls up the Ohanapecosh Valley and (if your timing is right) incredible flower shows. Site 4 also gets my nod for Furthest from Water Source and the camp itself for Most Spread Out. If your group can snag the rustic stone shelter for the evening, go for it. Run time 11:07.