Comet Falls – Mt Rainier National Park

First full view of Comet Falls when the trail opened up to our destination.

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.

Beautiful multi-tiered Bloucher Falls on the East Fork of Van Trump Creek

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.

Mount Rainier peeking out from the trees along the Comet Falls Trail.

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.

Rough hewn log stairs made this steep part of the trail much safer.
Van Trump Falls (or Middle Van Trump Falls) depending on the source.
These large flat topped stones made a good set of stairs for another steep part of the trail.
Taking a quick breather along the Comet Falls trail.
Only 200 feet more to go. What a relief! We must be out of shape.
Crossing the East Fork of Van Trump Creek on a rough hewn log footbridge.
We reached our destination and enjoyed the cool mist from the falls on this warm day in late July.
Kathy took the opportunity to get a close up of Comet Falls. I hope that camera is waterproof.


Myrtle Falls – Paradise – Mt Rainier

myrtle-fallsWe 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.

Myrtle Falls is part of Edith Creek. This photograph is the creek on the opposite side of the footbridge above Myrtle Falls.
Yes, Paradise is this close to the mountain peak. There are plenty of opportunities for amazing photos of Mt Rainier. The day we were there, the sky was the bluest blue and I don’t remember seeing a single cloud all day.
A momma bear and her two cubs were romping around in this meadow about 100 yards from the road. A dslr with a nice, long lens would have been useful right about now.