’ROUND THE MOUNTAIN
We’re all for tagging summits, but the best way to experience a peak? Hike around it. You’ll see a mountain’s many faces on a single, peak-circling loop. These 14 trips circumnavigate the best of the best.
A mountain has many faces. See them all when you circle—not climb—a peak. Here are the 14 best summit circumnavigations in the country. By Ryan Wichelns
CROWN JEWEL WONDERLAND TRAIL MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, WA
IF THERE’S A mother of all mountains in the Lower 48, it’s this Cascade volcano. Climbing it is a life-list experience—hiking around it is even better. Ironically, the 93-mile Wonderland Trail encircling 14,410-foot Mt. Rainier was initially built as a utilitarian—not recreational—route. Completed in 1915, the original path was 130 miles long and used by rangers to monitor wildfires, poachers, and vandals throughout the park. Today, it’s a highlight-reel thru-hike that threads subalpine meadows, ice-fed waterfalls, and shady temperate rainforests, all with views of the peak’s 25 major glaciers. Two mustcamp spots: On the peak’s remote west side, spend a night at Klapatche Park for meadows reaching to Rainier’s rock-studded shoulder below Point Success; on its north side, spend a night near Mystic Lake to watch ice and snow tumble from the constantly avalanching Willis Wall.
Trailhead White River Season July to September Permit Required ($20); apply online. Climb Mt. Rainier See page 70. Contact nps.gov/mora
See Mt. Rainier’s northeast face from the Wonderland Trail, near Sunrise Rim.