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Stevens Canyon Waterfalls

Mount Rainier Area

Location

Mount Rainier Area -- SE - Cayuse Pass/Stevens Canyon
View map below

Length

8.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 1675 ft.
Highest Point: 3750 ft.

Rating

3.00 out of 5

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 
 

You don’t have to be circumnavigating Mount Rainier to see Sylvia Falls and Martha Falls. Do this section of the Wonderland Trail in the shoulder season, or when the weather obscures higher views, or just when you would just rather hike in shaded forest.

Begin at the Stevens Creek trailhead, dropping quickly through forest thick enough to provide shade, but sparse enough to allow light in. Drop 430 feet in half a mile, to where a spur trail leads to a viewpoint of Stevens Creek. When the view is not blocked by fallen trees, just behind a small waterfall you can see the creek bed cut out of gorgeous undulating glacier-polished rock.

At 0.7 mile, connect with the Wonderland Trail. 200 feet further, cross Stevens Creek on a stout bridge and begin a gentle climb through a more varied forest that includes Douglas fir, silver fir, and western redcedar.

At 1.7 miles is Maple Creek camp. Camps are ahead and to the left. To continue on the trail, go right, crossing Maple Creek on a pair of bridges, then turning sharply to the right (north-northeast) before curving back to the west.

At 2.1 miles, the original trail is deeply rutted and washed out for a quarter mile. Pick your way carefully through this section, then finally, skirt the base of a talus slope and begin climbing along the south canyon wall to Sylvia Falls at 2.8 miles.

Looking across the narrow canyon, see where Stevens Creek makes a sharp turn then plunges 43 feet in a broadening veil of water averaging 20 feet across. The falls are powerful and pretty to the human eye but difficult to capture photographically, due to shadows and branches which hinder a good view. Note that some maps show the location of the falls to be a few hundred feet upstream of where they actually are.

Continue climbing along the south canyon wall, to an area notorious for slides at 3.5 miles. Exercise caution here. At a scant 4 miles, Unicorn Creek takes a 52-foot drop over andesite, in full view of the trail. this very scenic falls is shown on maps as Martha Falls. It was named for Martha Longmire, the daughter-in-law of James Longmire, whose name is prominent within the park. Martha Falls actually begins in a series of smaller plunges a few hundred feet above the trail, and ends with a final drop of 121 feet, where it joins into Stevens Creek. This final drop can be heard but not seen from the trail. If you wish to see more of Martha Falls, there is an unsigned viewpoint along the Stevens Canyon Road looking south across the canyon.

If you are doing a one-way hike, the trail from Martha Falls gains 475 feet over the next half mile to meet up with Stevens Canyon Road. If not, this is the perfect place to return the way you came.

 

Stevens Canyon Waterfalls

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7602, -121.6391 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Mount Rainier Area -- SE - Cayuse Pass/Stevens Canyon

Mount Rainier National Park

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

Day Hiking: Mt. Rainier National Park Trails (Nelson & Bauer - Mountaineers Books)

Contact: Longmire Wilderness Information Center

(360) 569-4453

Download a map to plan your hike

Buy the Green Trails Mt Rainier East No. 270 map

Getting There

From the eastern (Stevens Canyon) entrance gate into Mount Rainier National Park, drive 10.6 miles to the Stevens Creek parking lot on the left side of the road. Or, from the west (Nisqually) entrance, travel 15.3 miles, then turn right on Stevens Canyon Road and continue another 8.2 miles to the Stevens Creek parking lot on your right.

The parking lot has “comfort stations” with plumbing, garbage cans, a water fountain, and room for about 30 vehicles. There are also a few picnic tables nearby. The trailhead is marked by a small sign nearer the east end of the parking lot, away from the other amenities.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 

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Stevens Canyon Waterfalls

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