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

Van Trump Park - 4.8 miles

Comet Falls Trailhead

Broadleaf Lupine and Magenta Paintbrush fill the subalpine meadows of Van Trump Park

Broadleaf Lupine and Magenta Paintbrush fill the subalpine meadows of Van Trump Park

Round-Trip Length: 4.8 miles
Start-End Elevation: 3,635' - 5,865' (Max elevation at Van Trump Park)
Elevation Change: +2,230' net elevation change (+2,290' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Strenuous
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Van Trump Park - 4.8 Miles Round-Trip

Van Trump Park is a picturesque series of sub-alpine meadows beneath Van Trump and Kautz Glaciers at the base of Mount Rainier. On a clear day, views from Van Trump Park include Mount Rainier, Mount St Helens, Mount Adams and the Tatoosh Mountain Range.

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').

Named for its resemblance to the tail of a comet, the plunging falls are impressive. They measure at 320' for just the main falls, and over 400' for the series of falls. 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.

The trail leads past Comet Falls and begins another very steep climb. Switchbacks aid in the climb to the trail split to Van Trump Park (2.0 miles : 5,575'). At the split, turn right to stay on the Van Trump Park Trail

Form this point, the trail veers up and over a small ridge to the end of the maintained portion of the Van Trump Park Trail (2.4 miles : 5,865'). 

Hikers can go beyond the maintained portion of the trail where fields of wildflowers await. Broadleaf lupine, American white bistort and Magenta paintbrush carpet the meadows of Van Trump Park.

Mountain goat are often seen grazing in the upper meadows of Van Trump Park. Black bear and marmot are also commonly seen. 

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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'
  • N46 47.877 W121 46.625 — 2.0 miles: Trail levels before split to Van Trump Park - 5,575'
  • N46 48.026 W121 46.510 — 2.4 miles: Van Trump Park - End Maintained Trail - 5,865'

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.
  • The unmaintained trail which leads into upper Van Trump Park is a known mountain goat habitat.
  • Comet Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the entire park.

Camping and Backpacking Information

There is no designated camping along this trail or within Van Trump Park. Cross country camping opportunities exist for skilled minimum impact backpackers who seek 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 Crosscountry 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 Crosscountry 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.

Fishing Information

There is no available fishing on the Comet Falls Trail.

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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