Comet Falls, Comet Falls Trailhead, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Comet Falls - 2.6 miles

Comet Falls Trailhead

Comet Falls measures 320' - one of the tallest falls in Mount Rainier National Park

Comet Falls measures 320' - one of the tallest falls in Mount Rainier National Park

Round-Trip Length: 2.6 miles
Start-End Elevation: 3,635' - 4,835' (Max elevation at Comet Falls)
Elevation Change: +1,200' net elevation gain (+1,250' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Comet Falls - 2.6 Miles Round-Trip

Comet Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Mount Rainier National Park. Millions of cubic feet of water are forced through a narrow chute resulting in an explosion of water that resembles the tail of a comet.

The entire waterfall measures 400' in height whereas the main 'plunge' of water measures 320'. Daring visitors will have up close access to the falls with the ability to even walk behind them. In reality, going anywhere near the falls will get one soaked, as its power extends far beyond its perceived reach.

From the Comet Falls Trailhead, the trail heads north on an immediate ascent and quickly meets up with Christine Falls, a scenic roaring series of cascades crossable via a log bridge (.3 miles : 3,776').

Once across Van Trump Creek, the trail continues north along the creek climbing at an aggressive grade (.5 miles : 4,090'). 

The trail will climb over 1000' in the first mile before opening up to afford views of the upper valley (1.0 miles : 4,654'). Sheer walls lead down to Van Trump Creek which carves through the glaciated valley.

The trail briefly levels out before crossing Van Trump Creek once again and reaching Comet Falls (1.3 miles : 4,835').

Many people will stop at Comet Falls and turn around, however, those who continue will be rewarded with the pristine sub-alpine meadows and majestic views of Van Trump Park.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N46 46.728 W121 47.019 — 0.0 miles: Comet Falls Trailhead - 3,635'
  • N46 46.894 W121 46.794 — 0.3 miles: Cross bridge over Christine Falls - 3,776'
  • N46 47.119 W121 46.918 — 0.5 miles: Trail climbs steeply next to creek - 4,090'
  • N46 47.497 W121 46.889 — 1.0 miles: After steep ascent - open views up valley - 4,654'
  • N46 47.588 W121 46.751 — 1.2 miles: Sign for Comet Falls - cross creek - 4,820'
  • N46 47.740 W121 46.759 — 1.3 miles: Comet Falls - 4,835'

Worth Noting

  • The Comet Falls - Van Trump Park parking area fills up quickly. Arrive early to get a space and avoid crowds. Overflow parking is available along Longmire - Paradise Road.
  • There is an impressive set of falls just before Comet Falls - don't be fooled into thinking this is Comet Falls. The actual falls are only .1 miles further.
  • Comet Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the entire park.
  • While some sources label this hike as moderate, ProTrails believes this is a strenuous trail.

Camping and Backpacking Information

There is no designated camping along this trail or near Comet Falls. Cross country camping opportunities exist for skilled minimum impact backpackers seeking a primitive camping experience.

Wilderness Permits are required year-round for overnight camping in the backcountry. Wilderness Camping Permits are free (*see notes for climbers below).

  • Permits and current trail conditions are available at all wilderness information centers, visitor centers and ranger stations (360.569.2211).
  • Camp only in sites designated on your itinerary. Fires are not permitted anywhere in the backcountry.
  • All trail-side camps have primitive toilets, marked sites, poles for hanging food and a nearby water source.
  • Cross-Country Zone Camping: there are no maintained trails, campsites or amenities in cross-country zones. Camp at least 1/4 mile away from any road or established trail, and 100' from water sources. Cross-country camping is not permitted for those hiking the complete Wonderland Trail.
  • Summer Party Size Limit (May 15th - September 30th): 5 people per individual site or cross-country zone designation. Families are an exception to this rule (parents + children).
  • Winter Party Size Limit (October 1 - May 14th): 12 people per individual site or cross-country zone designation.
  • Groups (defined as 6 - 12 people) are permitted in 25 designated sites throughout the park, and when camping on snow in Alpine Zones.
  • Climbing Permits are required year-round for any day or overnight travel on glaciers or above 10,000', including Little Tahoma. The Climbing Permit also serves as the wilderness camping permit for overnight trips. Wilderness Camping Permits are free while a Climbing Permit requires the purchase of an annual Climbing Pass for each member of the party.
  • Sites at Glacier Basin Campground are $20 per night.

Fishing Information

There is no fishing available at Comet Falls.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $25 entrance fee to Mount Rainier National Park (good for 7 days). Annual Passes are $50.
  • Pets and Bikes are not permitted on hiking trails or climbing routes in Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Fires are not permitted in the backcountry in Mount Rainier National Park.

Directions to Trailhead

From the Nysqually Entrance Station, drive 14.4 miles on Longmire - Paradise Road to the Comet Falls Trailhead on the left. The parking area fills up quickly with overflow parking available along Longmire - Paradise Road.

Contact Information

Mount Rainier National Park
55210 238th Avenue East
Ashford, WA 98304

General Information

Lost and Found

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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