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A nice one, or two-day, journey to one of the park's legendary spots - Indian Bar.

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Out and Back

5,868' 1,789 m


3,064' 934 m


4,080' 1,244 m


4,104' 1,251 m



Avg Grade (6°)


Max Grade (24°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife


A unique section of the Wonderland Trail along miles of ridge, through subalpine meadows, with views of the southeast side of Mount Rainier. It ends in a broad green valley into which pour a dozen waterfalls. One of the legendary places in the park. A great spot to sit in the moonlight on a late-August night and listen to the bull elk bugling. Generally snow-free late July through September.

Need to Know

There is a wilderness campsite at Indian Bar. In order to stay at this location, one must obtain a wilderness permit. Learn more here.


The first one mile is easy walking on a moderate grade to Nickel Creek. Good campsites along the stream and on the far bank. In another .5 mile is a small creek, the last water before Indian Bar. From Nickel Creek the trail climbs steadily to the Cowlitz Divide, reaching the crest approximately 3 miles from the road. Here, are junctions with the abandoned Backbone Ridge Trail and the trail from Ohanapecosh.

The next 4.5 miles are along the crest of the Cowlitz Divide, going up and over some bumps and contouring around others. At times the way is very steep. First, there are glimpses of the mountain through trees. Then the trail climbs higher, the meadows grow larger, and finally, atop a 5914' knoll, the mountain comes completely and grandly into the open. To the southeast is Bald Knob. Beyond is Shriner Peak. From the knoll, the trail drops 800' to 5120' Indian Bar.

The Ohanapecosh River divides the large green meadow. The shelter cabin is on the west side of the river. At the valley head are small remnants of the Ohanapecosh Glacier. In early summer numerous waterfalls splash down the lava cliffs. Just 100' below the shelter is Wauhaukaupauken Falls, a name almost larger than the falls.

Don't forget the considerable elevation gain on the return hike. If transportation can be arranged, Indian Bar can be combined with hiking the Summerland Trail for a beautiful one-way trip of 17 miles.

Flora & Fauna

At the upper elevations of high elevation forests, trees become less dense as the forest transitions into subalpine parkland. The subalpine parkland covers approximately 23 percent of the park; vegetation in this zone is a mosaic of tree clumps and herbaceous meadows extending from forest line to tree line, or about 5,000 feet to about 7,000 feet (approx. 1500-2100 meters) elevation. Tree cover and the location of plant communities in this zone is limited by the depth and duration of the snowpack.

Lush meadows, part of the subalpine parkland, circle Mount Rainier at elevations between 5,000 feet to about 7,000 feet (approx. 1500-2100 meters). The meadows are a favorite spectacle for park visitors, who flock to the mountain to see the elaborate wildflower displays blooming in the meadows. The subalpine meadows can be cloaked in snow well into the month of June if not later, driving the wildflowers to bloom aggressively in order to take advantage of the short growing season.


Shared By:

Tom Robson

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 2 votes


in Ohanapecosh


  5.0 from 2 votes
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in Ohanapecosh


in Washington


2 Views Last Month
2,416 Since Feb 26, 2015
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View of Rainier and Little Tahoma from the trail north of Indian Bar
Jan 8, 2016 near Eatonville, WA
heading toward Mt Rainier approaching the high point of the hike from Box Canyon to Indian Bar on the Wonderland Trail.
Jan 8, 2016 near Eatonville, WA
Indian Bar Trail Shelter. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Bar_Trail_Shelter#mediaviewer/File:Indian_Bar_Trail_Shelter.JPG under CC BY-SA 3.0
Feb 26, 2015 near Eatonville, WA
Taking the shade in Box Canyon trail.
Feb 26, 2015 near Eatonville, WA
Box Canyon
Mar 25, 2015 near Eatonville, WA



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Sep 22, 2020
Hayley Riggins

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