How to Hike to Comet Falls in Mount Rainier National Park
Distance: 5.1km / 3.2 miles | Elevation: 390m / 1,279ft | Time: 2 – 2.5hrs | Level: Easy-moderate | Dog Friendly: No | Toilets: None
Comet Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Mount Rainier. It is so magnificent! Comet Falls is 301 feet / 91m tall and you have to hike to get there. The hike is 5.1km / 3.2 miles with an elevation gain of 390m / 1,279ft and should take you around 2 – 2.5 hours return. Stay tuned for details on the awesome photo spot that we discovered at the viewpoint!
This hike is a great thing to do on a rainy or foggy day in Mount Rainier as you don’t need clear skies to be able to appreciate the beauty of the waterfall. We actually hiked to Comet Falls on the day that we were supposed to do the Skyline Loop Trail because it was so foggy. The fog actually ended up creating these amazing mystical vibes at the waterfall which made us feel like we were in a Lord of the Rings movie!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about hiking to Comet Falls including the best photo spots along the way!
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Where is Comet Falls?
The Comet Falls trail is located in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, near the town of Ashford. Below is a map with a series of pins of some of our favourite hikes and viewpoints in Mount Rainier including the Comet Falls Trailhead.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
How to Get to Comet Falls, Mount Rainier
To reach the Comet Falls trailhead, you will need to enter Mount Rainier National Park through the Nisqually Entrance, after passing the town of Ashford. The trailhead is located on your left along State Route 706.
Do I need a National Parks Pass for Comet Falls?
As the trail is located in Mount Rainier National Park, you will need a National Parks Pass which is called America the Beautiful. You can purchase this here.
How Hard is the Comet Falls Trail?
The trail is quite short at 5.1km / 3.2 miles but does get a little steep in some sections. Most of the trail is pretty well maintained but it becomes a little more wild in the last quarter of the hike. The Comet Falls trail is of easy – moderate difficulty and for those who are big hikers, it could be done in the same day along with another hike.
When is the Best Time to Hike to Comet Falls
The best time to visit Mount Rainier to go hiking is in the Summer or early Fall. During the Wintertime, a lot of the roads and services actually close and the park is more focused around the Winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding, snow shoeing and snowmobiling.
We found that Comet Falls was a great rainy day activity to do in Mount Rainier. The fog actually added more magic to the waterfall!
What to Bring to Comet Falls
Comet Falls is a pretty short hike and so you won’t need much. Just a few snacks, some water and most definitely your camera! You won’t want to miss snapping a picture of this beauty! ?
You are also going to want to bring along a raincoat as you will get quite wet at the waterfall if you get too close.
During Summer, the bugs get pretty bad so don’t forget your bug spray!
The Comet Falls Trail Description
There is actually more than one waterfall on this trail, although Comet Falls is most definitely the star. The trail takes you through the forest, starting with some stairs and then a few switchbacks up from the carpark. Not long after starting the hike, you will cross a bridge with your first view of the falls.
The trail then begins its steady climb uphill and you will find yourself wanting to stop for a breather every now and then. The trail flattens out a bit and becomes a little narrower with the creek on one side. We didn’t know it at the time because it was so foggy, but apparently in this section you can actually see Mount Rainier!
The flat section does not last long and you will be climbing again before you know it. You will pass the Middle Van Trump Falls, which fall into Van Trump Creek – another thing we missed because the fog was so thick.
Finally, after some more uphill and switchback, you will cross a bridge and reach a waterfall! We absolutely thought that we had made it and that this was Comet Falls, although it looked a bit different to the photos we had seen. We were wrong. This is Bloucher Falls. You are not far away from Comet Falls now though. Follow the sign that shows Comet Falls in 200ft and keep hiking UP.
Soon you will reach the lower tier of Comet Falls. We stopped here for way too long taking photos as we thought this was the final viewpoint. BUT, you can actually hike up higher to get to the top tier of the waterfall which is definitely the most impressive. It’s only about 3 minutes more to get to the top tier of the falls.
Best Photo Spots along the Comet Falls Trail
Along the Comet Falls trail, you will not only have a photo opportunity at the end of the trail, but also along the way. These are all of the photo opportunities that you should take note of, in order of hiking to Comet Falls.
Lower Cascades on Van Trump Creek, or Lower Van Trump Falls
Your first photo stop is pretty soon into the hike, when you reach the first bridge. You can look up at the Lower Van Trump Falls here and it makes a nice slow shutter speed photo.
We thought Bloucher Falls was Comet Falls because it felt like the end of the hike, but Bloucher Falls is just a bonus waterfall! You can take a nice photo with the bridge in it from the rocks.
Comet Falls Lower Falls
It was so foggy when we did the Comet Falls hike that we didn’t even realise that there was an upper section to the waterfall at first. I absolutely love the photo of the lower tier of the waterfall with the greenery and flowers in the foreground.
Comet Falls Upper Falls
Once you reach the 2nd tier of the waterfall (this is the tallest and most magnificent section of the waterfall), there is a little mound of dirt which is the perfect spot to stand for a photo! If you are visiting in Summer, there should be a bunch of gorgeous yellow flowers if you look to your right whilst facing the waterfall. See if you can place your tripod or get a friend to take your picture with the flowers framing the photo like the one above.
Other Must-do Hikes Nearby
If you are in spending some time in Mount Rainier, you are definitely going to want to do more than one hike! Comet Falls is an amazing waterfall in Mount Rainier, but you should also check out the views of Mt Rainier higher up in the mountains! Some awesome hikes to check out are listed below.
The Skyline Loop Trail
Distance: 10km / 6.2 miles | Elevation: 545 metres / 1,788 ft | Time: 3.5-4.5hrs | Level: Moderate
The Skyline Loop Trail is the most popular hike in Mount Rainier because you get awesome views of Mount Rainier the majority of the way and at some points along the trail, you are so close to Rainier that you can actually hear the cracking sounds of the glacier!
The Skyline Loop Trailhead is located in Paradise Visitor Centre parking lot which is a large parking lot with overflow parking but super popular so I recommend you get there either super early or in the afternoon when the morning hikers will likely be leaving.
High Rock Lookout
Distance: 5.1km / 3.1 miles | Elevation: 396 metres / 1,295 ft | Time: 2-3hrs | Level: Easy-Moderate
High Rock Lookout is located just outside Mount Rainier National Park and from the lookout you get the most EPIC VIEWS OF MOUNT RAINIER (on a clear day). I highly recommend doing this hike as a sunset or sunrise hike if you have time while visiting Mt Rainier. You don’t need a national parks pass for this one as it is outside the park.
We love having a good option for a rainy day hike because you can never count on the weather being perfect all of the time. In saying that, it doesn’t need to be raining for you do hike to Comet Falls. If you are a lover of waterfalls, Comet Falls is definitely one of Mount Rainier’s best waterfalls so you should add it to the list!
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