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Comet Falls

Mount Rainier Area

Location

Mount Rainier Area -- SW - Longmire/Paradise
View map below

Length

3.8 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1250 ft.
Highest Point: 4875 ft.

Rating

4.20 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2013
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 
 

Follow a tumbling, churning, whitewater creek upstream as it thunders through a narrow gorge of glacier-polished rock on your way to a waterfall that drops 301 feet in a single plunge. Admire numerous small waterfalls and cascades and two significant ones, all in less than two miles. This is the Comet Falls trail.

From the parking lot, elevation 3650 feet, start out on the smooth wide trail flanked by trees young and old. In 0.3 mile, encounter a stout bridge over Van Trump Creek. From the center of the bridge, you can look downstream and catch a glimpse of the roadway (and possibly other sightseers) below Christine Falls. Look upstream at white water churning through a rocky channel. There’s more ahead.

The trail continues along Van Trump Creek, often within sight of it, and never out of earshot. After a half mile from the trailhead, the trail begins to alternate between forest and openings, as it passes below talus slopes and an andesite formation. Van Trump Creek is wider here and not so turbulent.

At 1.2 miles, the trail scales a rock face on a crib ladder. This safe passage was constructed by WTA and other trail crews, after a slide forced a trail closure in 2012.

Continue 0.4 mile to where you meet a tributary coming from the right. A sign reads “Comet Falls 200 feet”. This refers to the first clear view of the namesake falls, but the real attraction at this point is the tributary, East Fork Van Trump Creek, which roars into view in a three-tiered plunge totaling 124 feet: Bloucher Falls. Arrive early on a sunny the day to see a circling mist sparkling in the sunlight. This falls can be quite pretty, well worth a stop for photos.

Cross the East Fork on a footlog, then go left below the bank until you find the trail again. Very soon, Comet Falls comes into view between the trees. For a closer look, hike the final 0.2 mile, past evidence of major wind damage in the form of snapped-off trees, then up a few steep switchbacks to an obvious transition at a junction. The trail to the right continues steeply up to Van Trump Park, but an obvious boot path to the left provides a way for those who want to be closer to the plunge pool. But beware: Not only can swirling winds cause the spray to drench you, but rockfall from above is a very real hazard.

 

Comet Falls

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7790, -121.7823 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Mount Rainier Area -- SW - Longmire/Paradise

Mount Rainier National Park

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Mt. Rainier National Park Trails (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)

USGS Mount Rainier West

Mt. Rainier National Park - Earthwalk Press

Buy the Green Trails Mt Rainier West No. 269 map

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

Enter the park from the west entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, 13.5 miles east of Elbe on State Route 706. Drive 10.2 miles to the Comet Falls Trailhead parking lot on the left.

From the east entrance, or within the park, travel west five miles from the junction of Paradise Road and Stevens Canyon Road, to the parking lot a quarter mile past the Christine Falls Viewpoint. There is parking for 16 automobiles and a few motorcycles, but no trailhead amenities.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 

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Comet Falls

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