Carter Falls

Longmire, Washington 98397

Carter Falls

Carter Falls Professional Review and Guide

"An early opener, this portion of the Wonderland Trail crosses the expansive Nisqually River basin and skirts the Paradise River on its mild ascent to a treed-in vista of Carter Falls. Situated between the Longmire Historic District and the Paradise area and originating near a popular campground, the Carter Falls Trail sees many visitors.

Throngs of tourists meander along the rocks in the Nisqually River basin waiting for that ephemeral glimpse of Mount Rainier. The Carter Falls Trail is particularly popular in early summer, when the snow in Paradise has not yet melted and trail choices are limited. Admittedly, Carter Falls is an unlikely destination for many hikers, as its jetting waters are hardly visible through the trees, but the hike has many other qualities to offer: a massive glacier river basin, an unobstructed view of Mount Rainier on a clear day, a relatively easy grade, and early accessibility."

Carter Falls Reviews

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I think this has passed up my Grand Canyon hike as my best hike ever...fantastic. Is a bit tough on the way up but the falls are worth it. Hearing the water rushing next to the trail for the whole hike is great. Here is my flikr link with pics -
Spectacular. The ascent is well worth the view. You can actually walk right up to where the water hits the bottom, that is if you want a very cold shower. Don't even think of getting a picture unless you have a waterproof camera. If you are planning on doing this hike you need to get there early, there are only about 10-12 parking spaces. You cannot park on the side of the road because there isn't one. This trail is rated easy on the trail review. However, if you are not a regular hiker or used to physical activity, this will not be easy. It is all uphill with several steep ascents. Take is slow and you will be rewarded at the end.
Beautiful trail! Christine Falls at the beginning of the hike, and Comet Falls, at the end, are both gorgeous. The trail gives you lots of peeks at Van Trump Creek along the way. The trail is a somewhat steep ascent all the way to Comet Falls with lots of switchbacks, and the bridge at the falls was washed out in the 11/06 flood, but has been replaced. There was already a good bit of snow on the edges of the trail, and we saw pika near the end in a rock field. Take a lunch, hike up, and enjoy!
We are just back from this hike. The trail is 1.8 miles one way along the little waterfalls and stream all the way to the top finally ending at the Comet falls. You can hear the sound of stream and little water falls all the way along the trail. The trail passes mostly through evergreen forest in the valley area and hence there is no 360 degree sweeping vista type views though you can see few snowy mountain tops popping up through the evergreens every now and than. It's ascent all the way to the top and descent while coming back. It took us 1.5 hour to get to the Comet falls (we haven't done hiking in a long while) and while returning back it was getting dark so it took about an hour to get back to the parking lot (it was pitch dark last 0.1 mile!) but most people could do return path in 30 mins making total trail time to 2 hr. So it's pretty short hike. You can see patches of snow on trees about 3/4 of the way and quite some snow near the Comet falls. Remember Comet falls are hidden behind huge rock where trail might seem to end abruptly. So you may have to go around the corner and you will suddenly see them. They are not the largest falls you will see in the area and they don't make lot of noise so unless you don't go around the corner you probably think that was the end of trail. The Comet falls are 3 level falls instead of one straight 300 feet fall. May be all 3 level sums up to 300 feet. It would be little chilli up there in Oct+ months. The hike is worth to do it if you just had 2 hours and want to hear sound of water all along.
What a great hike! I was on limited time and could not get up to Paradise due to icy roads. Comet Falls looked interesting and it turned out to be a great choice. From the look of the lower stream areas it could be great in the hot summer if the water is flowing. There were a number of naturally shaped bowls in the rock that would be fun to splash around in. When hiking up the trail I had to watch out for the trees unloading large clumps of snow on my head as the branches bowed under the snow's weight. The trail is pretty family-friendly and the falls are a great sight, especially with snow and ice to frame its flow. It really does have the look of a long wispy comet's tail. There are a number of great places to sit and eat lunch and be serenaded by the sound of tumbling water. If you have the time you can continue the om trail's path uphill, possibly all the way to Paradise.

Carter Falls Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
About 1.5 to 2 hours
Mid-June through Oct
1,200 feet
Trailhead Elevation
Top Elevation
Longmire Wilderness Information Center, (360) 569-6650
Local Contacts
USGS Mount Rainier West; Trails Illustrated Mount Rainier National Park
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018