Ashford, Washington

Hike to Mount Rainier's Panhandle Gap

12 Miles Total - 3000 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Isaac Desautels

Majestic views of Mount Rainer, bright mountain wildflowers, and glissading your way down from the peak. Bring a pair of skis and build a jump to play on all afternoon.

The trail is 12 mi round trip but don’t let the distance for an out and back turn you off - this hike is fantastic and even better with a beer at the top. The trail winds its way through an old growth forest and shortly joins the Wonderland Trail. After crossing a crick the trail steepens and begins to switchback alongside Fryingpan Creek. Continue on in the forest; as you climb the trees become smaller, and alpine firs dot the landscape. The trail opens and you cross a bridge over Fryingpan Creek while taking in views of Mount Rainer. Alongside the creek, the trail continues to climb before veering off to a section of step switchbacks to the left.

Upon reaching the top after 4.5 miles of hiking, you are now in the sprawling Summerland Meadow. Wildflowers are plentiful during the right time of year. There are also campsites that making for excellent camping, however you must reserve these in advance. Mount Rainer and little Tahoma tower over the meadow, and glacier streams cut through the landscape. You may see goats, as well as marmots and maybe a bear, although that is quite rare.

The trail continues on, and becomes quite rocky. Additionally the rest of the trail can be covered in snow. You may want to bring poles and crampons. There is a sizeable waterfall that plunges three times in view, which the trail crosses further up the stream. Make your way up towards the Pan Handle gap carefully as the trail is steep, icy, and tough to navigate.

Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with 360 views of Mount Adams, Goat Rocks, Mount Hood, Mt Rainer, and craggy peaks all around. Sit down and put your drink on snow to cool down. Eat lunch and wash it down with a cold beer or cider. After, take a peek over the ledge into the large snow field you previously came up and if there is enough snow, start sliding your way down.

Read More

Tags

Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

This trail is beautiful

Even though it's lengthy and at sometimes strenuous, It is definitely worth the view at the top. I would recommended hiking poles as I hiked the whole thing without and it gets pretty tough especially on the snow. This hike lives up to the fact that it is a longer hike, expect 4-6 hours, but like the few people I passed on the way back asking me if the "view was worth it" I replied with a "oh yes" have fun. Bring sunscreen, protein, and lots of water!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Enumclaw, Washington

Silver Springs Campground

Overview Silver Springs Campground is situated on the banks of the scenic White River in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, just outside Mt. Rainier National Park's North Arch entrance. Silver S...

Naches, Washington

Lodgepole Campground (Wa)

Overview Lodgepole Campground is located in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in the Northern Cascade Range of Washington. With the scenic waters of the American River running alongside the si...

Packwood, Washington

Ohanapecosh Campground

Overview Ohanapecosh Campground, on the southeast side of Mount Rainier National Park, is surrounded by old growth forest and crossed by an exceptionally beautiful snow-fed river. Close to Ohanapec...

Packwood, Washington

Ohanapecosh Group Campground

Overview This facility is the group site at Ohanapecosh Campground. Ohanapecosh, on the southeast side of Mount Rainier National Park, is surrounded by old growth forest and crossed by an exception...

Nearby Adventures

  • Climb Little Tahoma/East Shoulder

    Start from the Summer Land Trail Head at the Fryingpan Creek parking lot just West of the White River Ranger Station in Mount Rainier National Park. Beginning at an elevation of 3,800 feet, you'll head southeast along the Summer Land Trail for 4.5...

    17 miles 7450 ft gain

  • Scramble to Tamanos Mountain

    Soon after entering Mt. Rainier National Park via the White River Entrance, pull into the Owyhigh Lakes Trail parking area. From the parking lot, walk across Sunrise Road to the Owyhigh Lakes Trailhead to begin an exceptional hike to the summit of...

    10 miles 3000 ft gain

  • Backpack the Summerland Trail

    The Summerland trail is by far the easiest trail that I ever experienced. The trail is well maintained and for the first 3 miles you are surrounded by trees and the sound of waterfalls and rivers, and it's green everywhere. The last 1.3 miles, y...

    8.6 miles 1950 ft gain

  • Camp at White River in Mount Rainier NP

    Getting There From Seattle: Head East on I90 to 405 South, Take the exit for 169 heading towards Enumclaw. I recommend stopping for a bite at the down home, family restaurant called Kitchen in downtown. The food was great with lots of local flavor...