Summerland Trail, Fryingpan Creek Trailhead, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Summerland Trail - 8.4 miles
Fryingpan Creek Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||8.4 miles (additional travel required to explore meadows)|
|Start-End Elevation:||3,825' - 5,928' (5,928' @ Summerland Camp)|
|Elevation Change:||+2,103' net elevation gain (+2,235' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Summerland Trail - 8.4 Miles Round-Trip
Summerland Camp (5,928') is located 4.2 miles from the Fryingpan Creek Trailhead in Mount Rainier National Park. This venerable section of the Wonderland Trail, variously referred to as the Summerland Trail, rises through impressive old growth into idyllic meadows at the base of Mount Rainier (14,410') and Little Tahoma Peak (11,138').
Elk, goat and bear are drawn to this fecund habitat. Lush meadows, which may be snow-covered through late June, have short growing seasons that can trigger spectacular all-at-once blooms.
Summerland typifies the parkland - subalpine meadow ecosystem at Mount Rainier. This attractive destination sees heavy use throughout the summer, especially on weekends. Arrive early to secure parking and avoid crowds:
The trail heads south along Fryingpan Creek under a tall old growth canopy. Grades increase past 1.25 miles (4,100') on a steady, winding climb that levels across an open bank with a look at waterfalls pouring from the south valley wall (2.5 miles : 4,790').
The trail steepens over a gorge to a wide, cobbled channel along Fryingpan Creek. You can divert upstream to view its source at Fryingpan Glacier. An elevated bridge crosses a narrow braid (3.3 miles : 5,190') into patchy meadows with views of Rainier, Little Tahoma and Goat Island Mountain.
It steepens away from the creek onto winding switchbacks for a .7 mile, 600' push to Summerland Camp (4.2 miles : 5,928'). The trail continues through the meadows on steep intervals into an alpine zone below Fryingpan Glacier. Perennial snow covers much of the trail between Summerland and Panhadle Gap, but it's generally well-tracked and easy to follow.
It runs past the base of Meany Crest into a vast sprawl of tarns, gravel mounds, scattered boulders, streams, snowfields and waterfalls. The trail curls up a steep wall to Panhandle Gap (5.5 miles : 6,752'), a long thin saddle between the Fryingpan and Ohanapecosh River headwaters.
Views are simply stunning from this point. Note that steep, snow-covered sections between Summerland and Panhandle may require crampons and ice axes to safely scale and descend. Only prepared hikers should attempt this traverse.
- N46 53.288 W121 36.647 — 0.0 miles : Summerland - Fryingpan Creek Trailhead
- N46 52.905 W121 36.865 — .5 miles : Fast, mild climb in old growth forest
- N46 52.640 W121 37.279 — 1.0 miles : Grade increases
- N46 52.315 W121 37.516 — 1.5 miles : Switchback with views of gorge on creek
- N46 52.176 W121 37.719 — 2.0 miles : Fast, variously moderate grade climb
- N46 52.124 W121 38.337 — 2.5 miles : Forest opens with view of south valley wall
- N46 52.207 W121 38.721 — 2.85 miles : Cross bridge over small cascade
- N46 52.196 W121 38.932 — 3.0 miles : Steady climb in diverse forest
- N46 52.191 W121 39.229 — 3.3 miles : Cross bridge over Fryingpan Creek
- N46 52.168 W121 39.475 — 3.5 miles : Forest transitions to subalpine meadows
- N46 52.031 W121 39.572 — 4.0 miles : Steep, winding switchbacks
- N46 51.926 W121 39.559 — 4.2 miles : Summerland Camp (5,928')
- N46 51.749 W121 39.477 — 4.5 miles : Steep push through and above meadows
- N46 51.473 W121 39.096 — 5.0 miles : Rolling, and steep climb near glacier base
- N46 51.428 W121 38.757 — 5.25 miles : Steep push up valley headwall
- N46 51.300 W121 38.772 — 5.5 miles : Panhandle Gap (6,752')
- These subalpine meadows are extremely fragile. Remain on designated trails at all times to minimize impact on this heavily traveled area.
Camping and Backpacking Information
Wilderness Permits are required year-round for overnight camping in the backcountry. Wilderness Camping Permits are free (*see notes for climbers below).
- Permits and current trail conditions are available at all wilderness information centers, visitor centers and ranger stations (360.569.2211).
- Camp only in sites designated on your itinerary. Fires are not permitted anywhere in the backcountry.
- All trail-side camps have primitive toilets, marked sites, poles for hanging food and a nearby water source.
- Cross-Country Zone Camping: there are no maintained trails, campsites or amenities in cross-country zones. Camp at least 1/4 mile away from any road or established trail, and 100' from water sources. Cross-country camping is not permitted for those hiking the complete Wonderland Trail.
- Summer Party Size Limit (May 15th - September 30th): 5 people per individual site or cross-country zone designation. Families are an exception to this rule (parents + children).
- Winter Party Size Limit (October 1 - May 14th): 12 people per individual site or cross-country zone designation.
- Groups (defined as 6 - 12 people) are permitted in 25 designated sites throughout the park, and when camping on snow in Alpine Zones.
- Climbing Permits are required year-round for any day or overnight travel on glaciers or above 10,000', including Little Tahoma. The Climbing Permit also serves as the wilderness camping permit for overnight trips. Wilderness Camping Permits are free while a Climbing Permit requires the purchase of an annual Climbing Pass for each member of the party.
A Washington State Fishing License is not required to fish in Mount Rainier National Park:
- A Washington State catch record card is required to fish for salmon or steelhead and they must be accounted for as if caught in state waters.
- Fishing regulations are specific to site, species, and season. Always contact the Park before setting out for the latest guidelines.
- Fishing for Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Coastal Cutthroat and Chinook (King) Salmon is strictly prohibited in Park waters.
- There is no catch limit in Park lakes.
Streams and Rivers:
- Daily catch: Six pounds of fish plus one additional fish, not to exceed 12 fish
- Possession: 1 day's limit
- Minimum size: none
- The Ohanapecosh River and its tributaries are open to fly fishing only. The use of bait or other lures (except artificial flies) is not permitted.
The following areas are closed to fishing:
- Klickitat Creek above the White River Entrance water supply intake
- Ipsut Creek above the Ipsut Creek Campground water supply intake
- Laughingwater Creek above the Ohanapecosh water supply intake
- Edith Creek basin above the Paradise water supply intake
- Frozen Lake
- Reflection Lakes
- Shadow Lake
- Tipsoo Lake
Rules and Regulations
- There's a $25 entrance fee to Mount Rainier National Park (good for 7 days). Annual Passes are $50.
- Pets and Bikes are not permitted on hiking trails or climbing routes in Mount Rainier National Park.
- Fires are not permitted in the backcountry in Mount Rainier National Park.
Directions to Trailhead
The Summerland Trail - Fryingpan Creek Trailhead is located 2.9 miles from the White River Entrance Station in Mount Rainier National Park.
Trailhead parking is located just over the Fryingpan Creek Bridge on the right (north) side of the road.. The trail begins across the street on the left side (south).
This trail is extremely busy throughout the summer, especially on weekends. Spaces are limited and fill quickly each day. Get an early start to secure parking and avoid crowds.
Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304
Paradise Visitor Center
Paradise Climbing Information Center (CIC) | Guide House
White River Wilderness Information Center
Longmire Wilderness Information Center
Carbon River Ranger Station
Lost and Found