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Comet Falls Hike: The Best Waterfall in Mount Rainier

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Comet Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Mount Rainier. It is 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.

If you are someone who likes taking photos, stay tuned for details on an the perfect photo spot that we discovered at the viewpoint!

As we approached the waterfall, fog swirling around us, I realised that it suddenly felt like we were in some sort of a fantasy movie. It was magical.

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.

Couple standing in front of Comet Falls in Mount Rainier

The fog 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 and at the waterfall.

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Everything You Need to Know About Hiking to Comet Falls in Mount Rainier National Park

📃 Hike Stats

Distance: 5.1km / 3.2 miles
Elevation: 390m / 1,279ft 
Time: 2 – 2.5hrs 
Level: Easy-moderate
Dog Friendly: No
Toilets: None

NEW ENTRY RESERVATION REQUIRED TO VISIT MOUNT RAINIER IN 2024
In 2024, Mount Rainier is putting in place a timed entry reservation for the Paradise and Sunrise areas of the park from 7am – 3pm. Each corridor requires a separate vehicle reservation. The goal for this new system is to improve the visitor experience to the park by reducing wait times, congestion, and resource impacts on trails caused by overcrowding.

📍 Where is Comet Falls?

The Comet Falls trail is located in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, near the town of Ashford. The best entry point to get to Comet Falls is through the Nisqually entrance of the park.

Below you will find 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 from Seattle

Comet Falls Trail parking lot
Comet Falls Parking Lot

To get to the Comet Falls trailhead from Seattle, it will take you a little over 2 hours to drive. You will need to take the Take I-5 S and WA-7 S to WA-706.

From there you will need to continue on and 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?

America the Beautiful National Parks Pass

As the trail is located in Mount Rainier National Park, you will need a National Parks Pass which you can purchase as a day pass or an annual pass (America the Beautiful). This is separate and in addition to the timed entry reservation.

If you are planning on visiting a few national parks over the course of a year, the Annual pass is well worth it!

🥾 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.

Couple sitting in front of Comet Falls in Mount Rainier on a foggy day

📆 When is the Best Time of the year 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.

Man standing in front of Comet Falls in Mount Rainier National Park

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 stunning waterfall!

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. Our photo spot at the top tier waterfall got us a little wet.

During Summer, the bugs get pretty bad so don’t forget your bug spray!

Tip: For a full list on what to bring on a day hike, check out our guide.

🌲 Leave No Trace

Whenever you are enjoying the beautiful nature that our world has to offer, remember to leave no trace (LNT)! Respect the beautiful places that make our world beautiful and take out everything that you take in, take only photos and respect the wildlife and other people. You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here.

🐶 Are dogs allowed on the Comet Falls Trail?

Dogs are not allowed in Mount Rainier National Park’s wilderness areas or on the trails.

Service animals are the exception to this rule, however must be kept on a leash at all times.

Dogs are allowed in certain areas with restrictions. Leashed dogs are allowed in campgrounds, parking lots, and on paved roads. You can read more about pets in Mount Rainier here.

🚻 Facilities

There are no toilets at the trailhead or along the trail. We found it very difficult to find bathrooms in Mount Rainier National Park.

It seems like you have to go to the main parking areas where the visitors centres are to find one.

The closest bathroom to Comet Falls is at the Paradise Parking Lot and Visitors centre which is a 15 minute drive from the Comet Falls Trailhead.

🥾 The Comet Falls Trail Description

Comet Falls Trail Map

There is 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.

Comet Falls Trail

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!

This is NOT Comet Falls.

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.

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 again, 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.

You probably know by now that I am obsessed with photography, so I have collected photos from all of my favourite photo spots along the trail.

Below you will find a list of the photo opportunities that you should take note of, in order of hiking from the trailhead to Comet Falls.

Lower Cascades on Van Trump Creek, or Lower Van Trump Falls

Waterfall in Mount Rainier

Welcome to your first photo stop!

You will come across this one pretty early 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.

Bloucher Falls

Bloucher Falls along the Comet Falls Trail
Bloucher Falls

Your second photo stop is Bloucher Falls!

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

man standing in front of Comet Falls Lower falls

Your third photo stop is the best so far!

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. You can find wildflowers along this hike during August / September.

Comet Falls Upper Falls

girl standing at Comet Falls in Mount Rainier National Park

Your third and final photo stop is of the top tier of Comet Falls!

Once you reach the 2nd tier of the waterfall (this is the tallest and most magnificent section of the waterfall), you will find that the air is much cooler up here.

This is where you will want to put on your raincoat if you have one.

There is a little mound of dirt which is the perfect spot to stand for a photo! We found it fun to try to get the wildflowers in the foreground of our photo by crouching down nice and low.

Pro Photo Tip: 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.

🛌 Where to stay near Comet Falls

When looking for accommodation near the Comet Falls Trailhead, you will want to look in Ashford rather than Mount Rainier National Park because the park is so massive and can take hours to drive from one end to the other.

Some stays worth checking out in Ashford are:

🚶‍♀️ 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

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

man sitting in front of view of Mount Rainier from 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.

Our Thoughts

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 one of Mount Rainier’s best waterfalls so you should add it to the list!

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