New Closure Posted for Comet Falls Trail

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Date: July 18, 2012

Hiking Advisory:

Visitors to Mount Rainier National Park are advised that a new closure is in effect on the Comet Falls Trail from approximately 1/4 mile below Comet Falls to the River crossing above Comet Falls in Van Trump Park. This closure is due to an abundant amount of avalanche debris in the Van Trump drainage, making the trail dangerous and creating extremely hazardous river crossings. A fall through hidden pockets in the snow could be fatal (see photo below).

Comet Falls comparison 2012 resized_sml

Photos taken from the same location, one year apart, show the massive amount of snow deposited in the canyon below Comet Falls by an avalanche that occurred sometime earlier this year. The avalanche buried the trail leading to the falls under tens of feet of snow and debris, and large numbers of trees on the right (east) side of the canyon were flattened by the avalanche.

NPS Photo


Route Finding Skills Necessary on most backcountry trails.
Mount Rainier has received a significant amount of snow during the 2011/2012 winter season. Many early summer hikers are not prepared for the route finding challenges encountered by a late snowpack. History has shown that such heavy snowpack conditions significantly increase search and rescue incidents in the backcountry. Trails may be snow-free at lower elevations but hikers should anticipate heavy snow-covered trails higher up. Hikers should not count on following their footprints back out. Always carry a detailed map and compass, and/or GPS, and know how to use them.

Also consider the steep snow slopes, melt holes, thinning snow bridges, and other early season hazards that you may encounter, and be honest with yourself in assessing your skills and experience. In addition, having proper gear (adequate boots, ice axe, the ten essentials, etc.) is a must. Learn more about current trail conditions.

Before heading out into the backcountry, please visit or call one of the Wilderness Information Centers to get the most up-to-date conditions.


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