Are You Looking For a Day in Paradise: Hike Comet Falls & Van Trump Park on Mount Rainier
Follow tumbling, churning, Van Trump Creek upstream past spectacular Bloucher Falls and Comet Falls (one of the highest in the Mount Rainier Park), to an alpine meadow featuring absolutely spectacular views of Mount Rainier. For an added treat, hike an extra half mile for a stunning view of the barren Kautz Creek valley from Mildred Point…Truly a day in paradise.
Your views will include: Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helens, Mount Adams, and the Tatoosh Mountain Range.
The Comet Falls trailhead is located four miles northeast of Longmire on the road toward Paradise on Mount Rainier. Parking space is limited (this is the only negative to this hike) and often full. There is no more parking nearby, so come early or have an alternate hike in mind.
At 0.3 mile from the trailhead you will cross a picturesque bridge over Van Trump Creek. If you stop to look back downstream you will catch a glimpse of the roadway below Christine Falls. You will follow Van Trump Creek upstream, as it roars through a gorgeous narrow gorge with numerous cascades and small waterfalls. At 1.6 miles you’ll round a corner to see a striking three-tiered waterfall. Cross the foot log bridge, and then go left below the bank to rejoin the trail, which will soon provide the first clear view of Comet Falls. At 1.9 miles and 4875 feet, a side path to the left a gives you better access to the 392 foot falls.
To continue, go right and begin ascending steeply (keep going, it’s really worth the effort). You’ll gain 650 feet in 0.6 mile to arrive at a junction, often buried under several feet of snow until July. Go right and climb to a green meadow which provides glimpses of Mount Rainier – a teaser for what’s ahead. At 0.3 mile from the junction, a sign marks the end of the maintained trail at 5850 feet. Views to the south include both Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. If you walk a short distance on unmaintained trail you will see the most beautiful views of Mount Rainier from a vast green meadow.
To reach Mildred Point, walk about 0.3 mile back to the junction, then go right and drop 200 feet to a crossing of Van Trump Creek. You can stop to admire Upper Comet Falls upstream, and then gaze over the top of Comet Falls on your way to another junction; this will be 0.5 mile from the previous one. Take a right; the final half mile leads you along a trail that gets narrow, steep, rutted, and overgrown, but passes gorgeous wildflowers. At 3.5 miles from the trailhead you will reach Mildred Point, a bluff at 5900 feet overlooking the vast and rocky Kautz Creek valley that has spectacular unobstructed views of Mount Rainier. Take time to enjoy the surreal volcanic rock formations, the steepness of the terrain, and the contrast between the gray rocks here and the green of Van Trump Park to the east.
Those folks who persevere and continue to Van Trump Park enjoy views Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens to the distant south, and the Tatoosh Mountain Range, while the Kautz and Van Trump Glaciers dominate views of Mount Rainier to the north. You will have an opportunity to see marmots, pikas, and mountain goats on rocky open slopes in the area.
- Trail Distance: Round-trip: 3.8 miles to Comet Falls and 5.6 miles to Van Trump Park
- Elevation Gain: 900 feet at Comet Falls, 2200 feet at Van Trump Park
- Hiking Time Round Trip: 2.5 hours to Comet Falls & 4 hours to Van Trump Park
- Snow Free: Typically mid-July to mid-October
- Required Park Pass: National Park Pass
- Parking: Lot holds 20 cars, no alternative parking so come early.
- Map: Green Trails Mount Rainier West, No. 269
- Wilderness Camps: None
Additional Comet Falls and Van Trump Park Information
Directions to Trailhead
Take I-5 N to US 12 E to WA 706 E to Nisqually entrance. Follow park road 4 mi. E of Longmire; parking and trailhead is on your left.
Park Pass Information
Get your national park pass online.
Google – Comet Falls & Van Trump Park
Flickr – Comet Falls & Van Trump Park Photos