Panhandle Gap via Wonderland Trail and Summerland Trail
This is a moderate out and back hike along the Wonderland Trail takes you to Summerland and Panhandle Gap. The trail starts following Fryingpan Creek through the forest with gradual steady incline until you reach the man made log bridge crossing Fryingpan Creek. After crossing you'll begin a steadier incline on a well maintained trail up to Summerland. Summerland is an amazing stopping destination for lunch or camping. At this point you'll have hiked 4.5 miles in and gained about 2,000 feet. If you have it in you continue up to Panhandle Gap for another 1.5 miles and just under 1,000 feet of gain. You'll cross into a whole different scenery with glacier views, runoff, rocky basins and a few small glacier lakes. The trail can be difficult to follow an actual path, but look for the cairns marking your way. Once you reach Panhandle Gap take in the views of not only Mount Rainier so up close and personal, but in the distance you can see Mount Adams and Goat Rocks.
Parking for this trail can get packed quick on a summer day. Arrive early to ensure a spot!
This can be a tough hike for young children, the gain is just under 3,000 feet and total hiking mileage was 12 round trip.