Christine Falls is another popular “quick stop” along Paradise Road in Mt Rainier National Park. After we left Paradise, where we saw Myrtle Falls, and after we had stopped for a few minutes to view Narada Falls, we came to a small parking area where a number of people had pulled off the road to see Christine Falls. This is another waterfall that you can see from the roadside, but offers the best pictures if you hike down a couple hundred feet to a viewpoint.
This small, but photogenic waterfall is a popular due to its close proximity to the road, but also because the attractively built bridge over the falls and the narrow rock walls create a nice frame for the falls. This final waterfall on Van Trump Creek falls a total of about 69 feet in two tiers, however, it is nearly impossible to photograph both tiers at the same time. I’ve seen a photo taken with a wide angle lens from the top of the bridge that shows both the upper and lower tiers.
The entire walk down to the viewpoint and back up to our car was about 350 feet with about a 15 elevation change. That includes the fact that I slipped past the railing and edged down just a little farther to see if I could get a better angle for my photographs.
The day we were there was a clear sunny day which cast bright contrast and dark shadows in my photographs. Some clouds would have helped the photography, but I wouldn’t trade it for the pure enjoyment of our trip.
After a few quick photos of Christine Falls, we walked up the road a couple hundred feet to the Comet Falls trailhead, eager to begin the climb to the most spectacular waterfall on this day’s journey.
Narada Falls is a very popular roadside attraction in the Mount Rainier National Park. It is evidenced by a turnoff along Paradise Road E that has the capacity for more than 100 vehicles. When we arrived to view the waterfall, it was maybe a quarter full, and there were only a handful of people there. When we returned after our hike to Comet Falls to use the restroom facilities at this site, the parking was packed full and there were people milling around everywhere. I’m glad we took the opportunity earlier to get our pictures of this gorgeous waterfall.
They have constructed a bridge that crosses the Paradise River that feeds Narada Falls, just above the waterfall. Off to the left of the path are the restroom facilities and to the right is a trail that leads down to a viewpoint of the waterfall. The trail is well groomed and only a couple hundred yards to the viewpoint. I forgot to turn on my gps app on my phone that records the time, distance, and elevation change, but I can say that it was a short, quick, easy hike. I even saw some people much older than I am, and some very small children with their families walking down this trail.
The waterfall drops about 159 feet over a rock wall and spreads out into a wide veil as it falls down the rock face. I’ve read that during heavy drainage, the veil can spread to as wide as 75 feet. It is also reported that during the winter, the waterfall freezes to form heavy icicles and this becomes a popular location for ice climbers.
Narada Falls is about a mile west of where you turn off to go to Paradise. We went to Narada Falls after we had been to Paradise and Myrtle Falls. We just followed the signs as if we were going to Longmire and easily found the Narada Falls Turnout.
Hiking the Comet Falls Trail was the primary purpose of this particular trip to Mt Rainier National Park. Though we had on the agenda to visit Myrtle Falls, Narada Falls, and Christine Falls along the way, Comet Falls was definitely the “Big One”. It would also prove to be the most challenging and the most rewarding.
The scenery was beautiful for the duration. At one point, the forest opened up and gave us an awesome view of Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier is one of those settings that makes a great backdrop to almost any photograph. This one was no exception.
Along the way, we noticed another waterfall that I hadn’t planned to see. At the time I was photographing this waterfall, I didn’t know exactly what we were seeing. After some online research, later, and viewing some photos that others have posted, I believe that we were looking at Van Trump Falls.
As we came nearer to the destination waterfall, we found a rustic footbridge that was on the trail. A sign revealed that we had 200 feet more to hike and directed us over the footbridge.
Just above the footbridge was another very beautiful multi-tiered waterfall. This was another waterfall that was not on our agenda, and I didn’t know at the time what it was. My research leads me to believe that it was Bloucher Falls. It was another nice gift to us from the Comet Falls Trail.
By now, we were really feeling the pain from the constant uphill climb. Seeing the “200 ft” sign was a real encouragement to us. At about this same point, there were a number of hikers on the way down encouraging us to keep going (we had no intentions of stopping here) as the destination was well worth the struggle.
Arriving at the waterfall felt amazing. Not only could we revel in our accomplishment of having endured a workout well beyond what our training had prepared us for, but the view was breathtaking and the mist from the falls was very refreshing on this warm summer day.
After several minutes of wandering around the base of the falls and taking advantage of the picturesque setting for a few photographs, we found a large flat rock to sit down on while we settled in for lunch. When we made our sandwiches earlier in the morning, we hadn’t yet decided on specific plans for where we might have our little picnic. But now, the timing was right and the backdrop was perfect for a light lunch under the falls.
A nearly thirty minute break was all the rest we needed and we began our descent back to our car. The nice thing about a one way, two mile, all up hill hike into the wilderness is that the return trip is all down hill. We made much better time on our return.
By the time we returned to our car, we had traveled 4.11 miles in a moving time of 2 hours 15 minutes and a total time of 2 hours 41 minutes. The elevation gain for the hike was about 1250 feet. I suppose it shouldn’t have been all that strenuous, but our conditioning is questionable, so this hike was a good, aggressive workout for us. By the end, I felt like I had accomplished something. I told my wife after the hike that we should do one like this every week. She, basically, told me that I would be hiking alone.
We had researched some of the waterfalls in the Paradise area of Mt Rainier National Park and had determined which of them we would be able to get to in one day. We selected Myrtle Falls to be our first stop.
By the time we arrived at the Paradise Visitor Center on this Saturday morning in late July, the visitor center parking was already full and we were directed to park on the roadside of the loop around the Paradise area. Fortunately, we were among the first on the loop, and were able to park on the road just below the Paradise Inn, so we didn’t have to walk far to get back to the visitor center. An hour later, when we returned to our car, the parking had extended more than half way around the loop, so I’m glad we got there when we did.
The round-trip from our car, to the visitor center, to Myrtle falls, and back to the car was 1.4 miles with a peak elevation gain of just over 200 feet, following the Skyline Trail. The pathway to the waterfall was entirely paved for easy walking. The main trail takes you to a footbridge over the top of the falls, but there is a short little side trail that will take you halfway down the side of the waterfall to a viewpoint that allows you to take some very nice photographs of the waterfall.
Myrtle Falls is a pretty little waterfall, with a drop of about 72 feet. it starts with a wide flow over a large rock wall, but is funneled down to a narrow drop at the bottom. I loved how the viewpoint was situated to make it easy to photograph the waterfall with the snow covered mountain looming large in the background.
As we were leaving the Paradise area and moving on toward our next stop, Paradise awarded us with one final treat. We noticed that along the back side of the Paradise loop, cars were stopping and people were jumping out of their cars with cameras. We weren’t sure of the reason for the commotion, but Leslie spotted it first. Down in the middle of the loop, about a hundred yards from us, was a black bear and her two cubs.
The bears were just out of distance for a good photo with my Samsung S4 camera phone that I use for all my shots. I snapped a few photos, anyway, and you can tell that you are looking at some bears. I think that was the first time I had ever seen a bear in the wild, so we were pretty excited about it.