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Van Trump Park and Mildred Point via Comet Falls

Difficulty: strenuous

7.8 miles

Elevation gain: 2950'

Max elevation: 5900'

Camps: none

First hiked by me: 2019

On sale, great deals, three for the price of one!

This hike combines a stunning waterfall, dramatic viewpoint, and lush alpine meadows. Any of these alone would be worth the price of admission.

If you want to hike it in pieces:

The trailhead is between Longmire and Paradise. Parking space is limited: cars were circling looking for spots by the time I returned to my vehicle (around 1:30).

After a dramatic bridge over the top of Christine Falls, the first part of this trail parallels Van Trump Creek up its steep-sided valley, and is crossed by several avalanche chutes. There are many neat river views and waterfalls, with the sound of tumbling water never far from your ear.

1.9 miles in, Comet Falls makes you wonder why you were bothering to enjoy the smaller waterfalls along the way. Plunging 300 feet, it's the closest Mount Rainier gets to looking like Yosemite.

Past the falls, the trail enthusiastically gains altitude through a section of forest. Once it levels out, you have a choice: turn right for Van Trump Park, or continue straight ahead to Mildred Point? Since you're already up here, it only makes sense to visit both...

The Van Trump Park trail is only officially maintained for 0.3 miles past the split, but it continues much further becoming quite rough, steeply uphill and deeply rutted in places. This is a glorious open meadow area which transitions to alpine tundra as you gain altitude, with views of Rainier to the north plus Adams and St. Helens to the south. I saw mountain goats. The distances shown above and solid line on the map only cover the officially maintained trail, but I went nearly a mile and 800' further up the unmaintained portion, shown by the dotted line on the map. It's possible to continue further, but I'm told views do not improve higher up.

The Mildred Point trail loses a bit of altitude, crosses the river above the top of Comet Falls, then turns to the right and climbs steeply up a grassy slope to the Mildred Point viewpoint. This is a steep drop-off, so there's no option of going further. The view of Rainier's summit over the headwaters of Kautz Creek and the Kautz Glacier will recalibrate your expectations of what 'big' means, leaving you feeling tiny yet exhilarated.

Mildred Point can also be reached along the Mildred Point via Rampart Ridge trail. That's a safer option in snowy conditions, and could be combined with this trail if you're able to arrange a car shuttle.

On the way back to my car, I hit crowds below Comet Falls. I suspect many people only hike this trail as far as the falls, so it thins out above there.

A quarter mile up the road past this trailhead lies Christine Falls, a popular roadside attraction that's worth checking out while you're in the area.

Along the trail to Comet Falls

Bloucher Falls would be famous if they weren't overshadowed by Comet Falls being located just a little further along the same trail

Comet Falls

Closeup on Comet Falls

Climbing through the forest

Entering Van Trump Park

Looking south from Van Trump Park

Higher up in the unmaintained trail portion of Van Trump Park

Looking south from high in Van Trump Park, over the Tatoosh Range (Chinook Jargon for 'nourishing breast') to Mount Adams

Creek crossing above the top of Comet Falls, on the way to Mildred Point

Big view from Mildred Point

Misty Mountains (from Mildred Point)

Christine Falls is not strictly speaking part of this hike, but this roadside viewpoint is close to the trailhead