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Van Trump Park

Mount Rainier Area

Location

Mount Rainier Area -- SW - Longmire/Paradise
View map below

Length

6.0 miles, roundtrip

Elevation

Gain: 2150 ft.
Highest Point: 5850 ft.

Rating

4.36 out of 5

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WTA worked here: 2013
 

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 
 

Follow tumbling, churning, Van Trump Creek upstream past spectacular Bloucher Falls and Comet Falls, to an alpine meadow featuring views of Mount Rainier and easy wandering. For an added treat, hike an extra mile for a stunning view of the barren Kautz Creek valley from Mildred Point.

At 0.3 mile from the trailhead, cross a stout bridge over Van Trump Creek. Look downstream to catch a glimpse of the roadway below Christine Falls. The falls (not visible from above) were named for the daughter of Philemon Beecher Van Trump. Who? P.B. Van Trump and his partner Hazard Stevens, are credited with the first ascent of Mount Rainier in August 1870. See the note below for more information about this historic climb of Washington's highest peak.

Follow Van Trump Creek upstream, as it roars through a narrow gorge with numerous cascades and small waterfalls. At 1.6 miles, round a corner to see a striking three-tiered waterfall: Bloucher Falls. Cross the footlog, then go left below the bank to rejoin the trail, which soon after provides the first clear view of Comet Falls. At 1.9 miles and 4875 feet, a side path to the left approaches the 392 foot falls.

To continue, go right and begin ascending steeply. Gain 650 feet in 0.6 mile to arrive at a junction, often buried under several feet of snow into July. Go right and climb to a green meadow which provides glimpses of Mount Rainier - a teaser for what’s ahead. At 0.3 mile from the junction, a sign marks the end of the maintained trail at 5850 feet--this is Van Trump Park! Views to the south include Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. Walk a short distance of unmaintained trail to drink in beautiful views of Mount Rainier from a vast green meadow.

To reach Mildred Point, walk 0.3 mile back to the junction, then go right and drop 200 feet to a log crossing of Van Trump Creek. Here, turn left after you admire Upper Comet Falls upstream, and gaze over the top of Comet Falls on your way to another junction, half a mile from the previous one. Take a right to go to Mildred Point; the final half mile leads you along a trail that gets narrow, steep, rutted, and overgrown, but passes gorgeous wildflowers. 3.5 miles from the trailhead is Mildred Point, a bluff at 5900 feet overlooking the vast and rocky Kautz Creek valley, with unobstructed views of Mount Rainier. Enjoy the surreal volcanic rock formations, the steepness of the terrain, and the contrast between the gray rocks here and the green of Van Trump Park to the east.

If you're feeling ambitious, consider making this a thru-hike. It's possible to hike out of Van Trump Park down Rampart Ridge. It's four miles if you elect to do this, and know that you will need to arrange a shuttle from the Longmire parking lot back up to your car at the trailhead.

Note: Stevens and Van Trump probably did not stand on the true summit of Mount Rainier, but they are credited with the first ascent, two months ahead of geologists Samuel Emmons and Allen Wilson. That is why the names Van Trump and Stevens are attached to numerous features in Mount Rainier National Park.

A Yakima Indian named Sluiskin guided Stevens and Van Trump up the Muir snowfield to 9200 feet, but refused to go higher. Other native guides had similarly stopped short of the summit, largely because of Sluiskin’s grandfather, who decades earlier had climbed the highest of any native on Takhoma (Mount Rainier). He had not summited, and strongly advised against it, reporting that Takhoma was inhabited by an evil spirit who dwelt in a fiery lake on its summit.

(Source: “The Stevens and Van Trump Ascent of Mount Rainier, August 1870”, Northwest Discovery - The Journal of Northwest History and Natural History, Northwest Press.)

Van Trump Park was not along the First Ascent route. A monument to the climbers along their actual route can be found by hiking the Skyline Trail from Paradise to Sluiskin Falls, which they named for their guide.

 

Van Trump Park

Map & Directions

Trailhead
Co-ordinates: 46.7790, -121.7823 Open map in new window

Trailhead

Mount Rainier Area -- SW - Longmire/Paradise

Comet Falls (#)

Mount Rainier National Park

See weather forecast

Guidebooks & Maps

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

Mt. Rainier National Park

by Earthwalk Press

USGS Mount Rainier West

Buy the Green Trails Mt Rainier West No. 269 map

Download a map to plan your hike

Getting There

Enter the park from the west via the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, 13.5 miles east of Elbe on State Route 706. Drive 10.2 miles to the Comet Falls Trailhead parking lot on the left.

From the east entrance, or from within the park, travel west 5 miles from the junction of Paradise Road and Stevens Canyon Road, to the parking lot a quarter mile past the Christine Falls Viewpoint.

There is parking for 16 automobiles and a few motorcycles, but no trailhead amenities.

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

National Park Pass
 

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Van Trump Park

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