Hike | Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainer

Trail: Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainer N’tl Park

Dates: 7/20 to 7/23 (3 days, 2 nights)

Mileage: 20 miles

Alpine glow

Day One: Box Canyon Trailhead to Indian Bar (7 miles)

Day Two: Indian Bar to White River Campground (10 miles)

Day Three: White River to Sunrise Visitor Center (3 miles)

This hike was beautiful and I cannot believe that it’s taken me this long to visit Mount Rainer. There’s definitely some elevation gain that was strenuous on this route, but overall so worth it!

Bugs were minimal – I made it thru with only 3 bug bites, which has to be a record! We ran into the most bugs as we were just starting to ascend out of the forest around Box Canyon trail. I did come prepared this trip with 30% DEET bug spray, that I only had to use once along that section of trail.

Indian Bar group campsite
Mt. Rainer cloaked in clouds.
Day 2 – view after climbing something like 1,500 ft in elevation
Mama + baby bear!!
Wahoo – we did it!
Stephen and Margo and my ice cream cone.

// Plant List //

Listing everything I remember seeing in bloom, since I didn’t have time to take a photo of everything, sadly. Also, Mt. Rainer has this awesome wildflower guide!


  • American Bistort – In my head, I always call it ‘buckwheat’ even though it’s not | Polygonum bistortoides
  • (pictured) Avalanche Lily – whole fields of it!! | Erythronium montanum (Liliaceae)
  • Bear Grass | Xerophyllum tenax
  • Bracted Lousewort, more commonly Wood Betony – really understated and beautiful green, tallest lousewort spp. at Rainer | Pedicularis bracteosa (Orobanchaceae)
  • Broadleaf Lupine | Lupinus latifolius
  • Elephant’s Head – only a couple in flower | Pedicularis groenlandica (Orobanchaceae)
  • Gray’s Lovage – kept seeing this one, but wasn’t sure which carrot fam. plant it was | Ligusticum grayi (Apiaceae)
  • Jeffrey’s Shooting Star | Dodecatheon jeffreyi
  • Orange Paintbrush – usually this is the one I see, but only saw a handful | Castilleja miniata
  • Pink Paintbrush – so much, esp. at Sunrise, but also Indian Bar | Castilleja parviflora
  • Sitka valerian | Valeriana sitchensis (Caprifoliaceae)
  • Thistle | Cirsium edule
  • White-flowered Sickletop Lousewort | Pedicularis racemosa, ssp. alba (Orobanchaceae)
  • (pictured) ‘Yeti’s Toe’ or common name, Pasqueflower or Western Anemone – saw this in flower & seed (looks fluffy like the toe of a yeti) | Anemone occidentalis

Trailside / Mid-lower elevation

  • Bunchberry | Cornus canadensis
  • Candystick | Allotropa virgata () – pasting this from Mt. Rainer’s guide because it’s so cool!

Completely lacking green leaves, this plant grows as a single stem marked with red and white stripes. Each flower has red-brown sepals but no petals, and underneath each flower is a small scale-like leaf. Candystick are mycotrophic, which means instead of using photosynthesis to get energy, they form a complicated three-way relationship with fungus and coniferous fir trees to survive. The candystick draws energy from the fungus associated with its roots. The fungus in turn derives energy from tapping into the roots of fir trees. With no need for the sun, candystick can be found in shady, deep woods.

  • Crimson Columbine | Aquilegia formosa
  • Devils Club | Oplopanax horridus (Araliaceae)
  • Foamflower | Tiarella trifoliata
  • Goat’s Beard | Aruncus dioicus
  • Kinnikinnick or Bearberry | Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
  • Pippsissewa | Chimaphila umbellata
  • Pinesap – also a mycotrophic plant | Monotropa hypopithys
  • Slender Bog Orchid | Platanthera stricta
  • Tiger Lily | Lilium columbianum (Liliaceae)
  • lots + lots of Vanilla Leaf lining the lower elev. trails | Achlys triphylla
  • Western Coralroot – a saprotroph plant, I’ll have to pay closer attention between Candystick, Pinesap, & this plant next time I’m out | Corallorhiza mertensiana
  • Wild Strawberry | Fragaria vesca (Rosaceae)

You can also check reported wildflower statuses at Rainer’s website too – the coolest!

Avalanche Lily in bloom and seed.
Western Anemone ‘Yeti’s Toe’ and Paintbrush

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *