Waterfalls and Mount Rainier go together like peanut butter and jelly. Wine and cheese. Politicians and… Well. Let’s not go there. Anyway, virtually every canyon, valley, gorge, or ravine inside the park – there are like, a zillion – is cobwebbed with water. Fast. Frolicking. Falling.
Here are six favorite waterfall hikes. In no particular order:
Distance: About 4.0 miles, RT
Rating: Moderately Difficult
Pouring over a rocky lip like Chenin Blanc out of a Venetian glass, this falls cascades 320 feet to its base. It’s one of the highest in the park. Probably our favorite.
The trail is steep and stair-steppy in places. If you’re new to hiking, you may want to think twice about this one. Or work up to it.
Note: Parking space is limited at the trail head and fills up fast. There’s no additional parking nearby. Either arrive early or have a Plan B.
Distance: 3.0 miles, RT
One of the park’s most popular trails, this is a pleasant three mile walk, round-trip, to an impressive gusher. Silver Falls is a favorite for families, seniors, youngsters, and pretty much anyone who’s vertical and breathing.
The trail starts from the Ohanapecosh Campground on the southeast side of the park.
Distance: 5.0+ miles, RT
The trail to these two falls, one right after another, winds through an old-growth forest along the Paradise River. (Check with park rangers before heading out to make sure the foot bridge is in.) Carter Falls is semi-hidden behind foliage. If you continue up the trail, Madcap Falls breaks into the clear just a stone’s throw ahead.
Carter Falls was named for Henry Carter, a guide who built the first trail to the Paradise Valley.
Past Longmire, near Cougar Rock Campground.
Distance: About 4.6 miles, RT
A wide, silver curtain of water thundering over a 350+ rock face, Spray Falls is located on a short spur trail to Spray Park, in the northwest corner (Carbon River) of the park at Mowich Lake. You’ll probably feel the mist from this massive waterfall before you see it. The falls can be reached off a .2 mile spur trail.
This is probably the best-known, most-photographed falls in the entire park. It’s easy to see why. On the Longmire-Paradise Road after Cougar Rock and before Glacier Bridge. (No trail. It’s right on the road.)
Just past the Comet Falls trail head to a small parking area on the right. A short set of stairs leads to the falls overlook.
Narada Falls drops nearly 170 feet from the parking lot viewpoint to the rocks below. For the full effect, hoof it down the short dirt trail to the lower viewpoint. A fine mist kicked up at the base will cool you off on a hot summer day.
On the Longmire-Paradise Road, about 14 from the Nisqually entrance. Tip: the parking area has picnic tables + a ‘comfort station’ that’s heated in winter!.
Catch you on the trails!