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Wonderland Trail – Day 12

Last updated Apr 13, 2021 | Published on Sep 20, 2016

Day 12 – Nickel Creek to Indian Bar

6.7 Miles
2600 Feet Elevation Gain
1000 Feet Elevation Loss

No rain fell overnight, which was a nice change.  My tent was still wet from the day before but at least it hadn’t gotten any wetter.  I was pleased to leave my umbrella behind when I went in search of the facilities this morning.  There’s nothing like pooping in the rain to give you a new appreciation for dry weather.

I broke camp at around 8:00 am and started the climb uphill towards Indian Bar.  I was looking forward to hiking to an alpine elevation for the first time since the rain started a few days back.  The trail climbed steeply, gaining 2500 feet in elevation in just a couple of miles. But it was nice to get above the treeline again.  I could see Mt. St. Helens in the distance towards the south for the first time during my trip as I hiked.

Mt. St. Helens

There was a chance of rain in the forecast, so I spread my tent over some rocks to dry out in mid-morning.  I didn’t want to risk getting rained on another night with an already wet tent at an elevation of 5000 feet.  My tent dried out surprisingly fast once I layed it out in the direct sunlight.

As I waited for my tent to dry, I met another hiker who passed along on the path.  Her trail name is Happy Feet, and she through-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail last year.  We chatted for a few minutes and exchanged contact information, planning to get together after the hike to continue chatting.  It’s been great getting to meet so many other local hikers.

I continued along the trail once my tent dried out.  Mt. Rainier was finally visible after hiding behind clouds for the past few days.  Why, hello mountain!

Vista from Cowlitz Divide

Gratuitous Selfie at the Cowlitz Divide

After hiking up and over the Cowlitz Divide with an elevation of 6000 feet, I then began the descent into Indian Bar.  The campsite is nestled in an idyllic little valley right next to the Ohanapecosh River.  Indian Bar has a shelter located in the group site, and it is visible as you hike into the valley guiding you like a beacon.

Indian Bar Shelter

This backcountry camp is one of the most popular ones in the entire park and it’s easy to see why.  I literally couldn’t stop myself from singing the entire soundtrack from The Sound of Music as I hiked into camp.  The alpine scenery looks like something out of a movie.

I set up camp and lunched on some soup as I enjoyed the views.

Lunch at Indian Bar

After lunch I picked some huckleberries and soaked up the sunshine.  What a lovely day.

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!


  1. Jason Smith

    Hi, great trip report for the Wonderland Trail! It’s a pleasure to read. Someday I’d love to hike this trail; but like you, I’d do it in about 14 days as well. More time to soak in the scenery. 😉

    But I would like to point out that the mountain you were seeing is Mount Adams, Washington’s second highest mountain. 😛 I’ve spent many wonderful hikes on that mountain; it feels like hiking on Rainier, but with less crowds and has a more “remote” feeling. (It too has an “around the mountain” trail, save for a 3-mile trailless section, which is ironically called the Round the Mountain Trail.) St. Helens is further west and has a flatter top.

    • Unicorn

      Thanks Jason!!


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