Comet Falls WA – Description | History | Travel Guide | Location
If there was one waterfall that each customer to Mount Rainier National Park ought to see, Comet Falls is it. Van Trump Creek hurtles from the lip of a lofty hanging valley, plunging in 4 steps flanked by lofty amphitheater cliffs of Andesite.
Comet Falls Overview
The Comet Falls are often cited as standing 320-feet tall, and whether or not this figure was arrived at by way of trigonometric measures or topographic information or what’s unknown, however, it has confirmed to be fairly inaccurate. It appears doubtless that this estimate solely took into consideration the 2 most outstanding tiers of the falls, poorly estimating the height of the lower tier.
Upon a survey of the falls in 2009, the surveyors had been in a position to precisely measure the general height of the falls at 462 feet, which we once more verified in 2014 to comprise of in individual steps of 78, 301, 52, and 19 feet, with the remaining 12-feet of distinction made up within the cascading boulder-choked stream between the second and third tiers.
The uppermost 78-foot tier can solely be seen when wanting straight on the higher tier of the falls, and whereas climbing up the switchbacks towards Van Trump Park, it can’t be seen from any of the viewpoints on the downstream side of the falls.
Van Trump Creek has been the subject of a substantial quantity of abuse by the hands of mom nature over the past decade or so. On August 14th, 2001, a Jökulhaup, or Glacial Outburst Flood poured out from under the Kautz Glacier and ran down the Van Trump Creek valley.
The circulate scoured the streambed clear of vegetation and in many locations dug a canyon 5-20 feet deep within the soil and because of this, your complete area around Comet Falls modified.
The pool previously on the base of the main tier of the falls was crammed completely, and the streambed below the falls, which previously resembled an idyllic subalpine meadow, is now a 15-20 foot deep rocky scar on the valley ground.
Further, floods in October 2003 then scoured away a lot of the muddy proof of the particles circulate, but the scars left behind had been solely amplified.
The lowermost tier of the falls, which technically did exist previous to the debris flows, was virtually buried after the 2001 flood, however, then uncovered completely and practically doubled in height after the 2003 occasion.
In the winter of 2012, a large avalanche thundered over the cliffs on the falls, knocking over each tree in its path, and burying the valley in as a lot as 200-feet of snow which lingered for your complete summer (which resulted within the path being closed all year). Who is aware of what might happen within the next ten years?
Comet Falls Naming and History
Comet Falls was named for its placing resemblance to the tail of a comet throughout higher flow intervals. Since the recession of the Van Trump Glacier, the amount of the creek has been decreased and it would not tackle the characteristic form fairly as usual because it used to.
Comet Falls Access
Enter the park from the west entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, 13.5 miles east of the Elbe on State Route 706. Drive 10.2 miles to the Comet Falls Trailhead parking zone on the left.
From the east entrance, or throughout the park, travel west 5 miles from the junction of Paradise Road and Stevens Canyon Road, to the parking zone a quarter-mile past the Christine Falls Viewpoint. There is parking for 16 cars and some bikes, however no trailhead facilities.
How to Go Comet Falls
Comet Falls is accessed by way of the Van Trump Park path, between Longmire and Paradise on the south side of Mount Rainier National Park. The trailhead is situated 1/4 of a mile west of the bridge spanning Van Trump Creek at Christine Falls, or 2.3 miles east of the Cougar Rock Campground – the mass of automobiles virtually all the time parked alongside the highway is difficult to overlook.
The trail climbs roughly 1400 feet within the 1.7-mile hike to the falls. Van Trump Creek is crossed at 1/4 mile; Lower Van Trump Falls will be heard, however not seen, at 3/4 of a mile; Van Trump Falls is handed at 1.4 miles, and the East Fork Van Trump Creek is crossed at 1.5 miles, below Bloucher Falls. Comet Falls will probably be seen shortly thereafter. The path then proceeds to climb for an additional 700 above the falls to meadows in Van Trump Park.
Comet Falls Visit Plan
Follow a tumbling, churning, whitewater creek upstream because it thunders by means of a slim gorge of glacier-polished rock in your strategy to a waterfall that drops 301 feet in a single plunge. Admire quite a few small waterfalls and cascades and two important ones, all in lower than two miles. This is the Comet Falls Trail.
From the parking zone, elevation 3650 feet, start out on the sleek huge path flanked by bushes younger and old. In 0.3 mile, encounter a stout bridge over Van Trump Creek. From the center of the bridge, you may look downstream and catch a glimpse of the roadway (and presumably different sightseers) below Christine Falls. Look upstream at white water churning by means of a rocky channel. There’s more forward.
The path continues alongside Van Trump Creek, usually nearby of it, and by no means out of earshot. After a half-mile from the trailhead, the path begins to alternate between forest and openings, because it passes below talus slopes and an andesite formation. Van Trump Creek is wider right here and never so turbulent.
At 1.2 miles, the path scales a rock face on a crib ladder. This secure passage was constructed by WTA and different path crews after a slide pressured a path closure in 2012.
Continue 0.4 miles to the place you meet a tributary coming from the right. An indication reads “Comet Falls 200 feet”. This refers back to the first clear view of the namesake falls.
However the true attraction at this level 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 day to see a circling mist glowing within the daylight. These falls will be fairly, nicely price a cease for images.
Cross the East Fork on a footlog, then go left below the bank till you discover the path once more. Very quickly, Comet Falls comes into view between the bushes.
For a more in-depth look, hike the ultimate 0.2 miles, past proof of main wind injury within the type of snapped-off bushes, then up just a few steep switchbacks to an apparent transition at a junction.
The trail to the right continues steeply as much as Van Trump Park, however an apparent boot path to the left supplies a means for many who wish to be nearer to the plunge pool. But beware: Not solely can swirling winds trigger the spray to drench you, however, rockfall from above is a really actual hazard.
Is the Comet Falls hike right for me?
Don’t let the comparatively short distance of this hike idiot you. This hike is certainly difficult. It has some very steep sections and it has some sections of stairs, rocks, and some rooted components.
Some of the steps are actually high and will be tough to climb up. If you’re short like me, mountaineering poles are an enormous assist! Use your arms if wanted that will help you up these sections.
That mentioned, the shorter distance means you may take your time and there are many issues to see alongside the way in which, together with a stunning forest, a number of different smaller waterfalls, and a view of Mt Rainier.
I like to recommend checking the path circumstances at Mt Rainier or the Washington Trails Association journey studies to learn when the path turns snow-free (usually late July) and if any of the log bridges are out or broken.
If you like waterfalls then you definitely don’t wish to miss Comet Falls!
When is an effective time to hike to Comet Falls?
Comet Falls isn’t usually accessible till the end of July because of the heavy quantity of snow on this path. August and September are the most effective months for this path, though if the snow doesn’t come early to the high elevations this is usually a spectacular October hike.
If you’re contemplating persevering with up the path past Comet Falls to Van Trump Park (which has wonderful wildflowers in season), plan on the end of July or early August.
This is a path that may be loved in any climate, though Comet Falls is additional attractive while you see the top of it towards the blue sky between evergreen bushes! There can also be a view of Mt Rainier in a single spot alongside the path when it’s clear.
Looking up at a high waterfall coming over a cliff face. There are evergreen bushes lining the top of the cliff and the sky is blue.
One word about crowds. Mt Rainier National Park is extraordinarily crowded in July and August, particularly Friday by means of Sunday. The area the place the Comet Falls trailhead is situated, alongside the highway to Paradise, is especially busy.
On top of that, there may be solely room for about 15 automobiles within the parking zone and some more alongside the opposite side of the highway in a few locations. If you’re right here on a weekend in July, August, or September parking could also be inconceivable.
My advice for that is to go for a late afternoon or night hike (relying on while you come and the way a lot daylight we now have). Another choice is to come back on a weekday, which can nonetheless be busy however not fairly so intense. You may go for a weekend later within the fall if the snow holds off.
Bakeries and Breweries close by
You can seize a meal on the deck (or inside) at the National Park Inn at Longmire. If you’re a fan of pie, don’t miss out on the Wildberry Restaurant (in addition they have a beer and wine and a full menu) between the park entrance and Ashford.
Looking for that basic post-hike burger or pizza with beer? Find it at the Rainier Basecamp Bar and Grill in Ashford.
Another popular post-hike cease is Scaleburgers within the Elbe, which is a walk-up window with actually good burgers! There is a semi-permanent fruit stand in the summertime within the Elbe too. Grab all of your recent native (from Yakima, simply over the mountain) peaches, apples, nectarines, cherries, and more.
Electric Vehicle Charging
The closest quick charging is in Puyallup, virtually 70 miles away. That’s outside the range of my Nissan Leaf, but when your EV has an extended range you may work out on Plugshare if you can also make it.
A waterfall comes down a cliff face with evergreen bushes on the top of the cliff on a sunny day. The text reads: Hike to Comet Falls Mt Rainier National Park
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