The trailhead for Ranger Falls/Green Lake is clearly marked, three miles from the end of Carbon River Road; the trail to the falls is mostly uphill but provides great natural scenery; and, finally, the roaring falls is the ultimate payoff. Photos by Kevin Hanson

The trailhead for Ranger Falls/Green Lake is clearly marked, three miles from the end of Carbon River Road; the trail to the falls is mostly uphill but provides great natural scenery; and, finally, the roaring falls is the ultimate payoff. Photos by Kevin Hanson

Ranger Falls: three easy miles, then it’s all uphill

This is the ninth in a series of articles about local hikes.

This is Week No. 10 in a series of articles about local trails, campgrounds, parks, etc. – simply about places to enjoy the outdoors without traveling too far. Ideally, this will encourage folks to get outside, get some exercise and forget that we have been cooped up for months.

The focus will be on destinations in our own back yard and all will be of the “day trip” variety. Previous weeks have featured outings like the Naches Peak Loop Trail, Nolte State Park and the Foothills Trail; this week we’re headed to Ranger Falls.

The target audience is the novice or, at least, not a seasoned veteran of the woods. Nothing here will involve summiting Mount Rainier or spending days trekking the Wonderland Trail.

The trailhead for Ranger Falls/Green Lake is clearly marked, three miles from the end of Carbon River Road; the trail to the falls is mostly uphill but provides great natural scenery; and, finally, the roaring falls is the ultimate payoff. Photos by Kevin Hanson

An easy stroll on a wide, flat road quickly turns into a thigh-burning uphill climb – that’s the fate awaiting those who venture to awe-inspiring Ranger Falls.

Perhaps it’s not that difficult for the ardent, outdoorsy types, but the falls present plenty of huffing and puffing for the average hiker.

The Ranger Falls hike is generally seen as a midway point on the greater trek to Green Lake. On a sunny weekday afternoon, however, the lateness of the day and shortage of physical conditioning meant the adventure terminated at the falls.

And what a sight Ranger Falls is: after treading uphill for a mile, one hears the unmistakeable waterfall roar well before the falls appear.

Fed by Ranger Creek, the pristine water begins by tumbling 44 feet, then another 55 feet before splitting in two for a 73-foot drop to the bottom.

But let’s start at the beginning. After parking and the end of the road, perhaps two miles past the ranger station, the adventure opens with an easy three miles along the former Carbon River Road. After several washouts, the road was closed to vehicles and now offers a non-strenuous entry. You’ll pass the entry to the Old Mine Trail (detailed here in the Aug. 12 edition) on a path that extends all the way to the Ipsut Creek Campground; the trek is equally popular with walkers and bicyclists.

Along the Carbon River Road, you’ll get to a well-marked trailhead at one mile. That makes it four miles from where parked cars line the shoulders of the road.

It’s all uphill from there (almost all), with steps built in along the way. You’ll notice the forest makes a subtle transition with the elevation change. There are several false trails before reaching Ranger Falls, but stick to the established route – it will provide the best views.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

• The Ranger Falls/Green Lake Trail involves a drive through Buckley, Wilkeson and past Carbonado and across the one-lane Fairfax Bridge. Take a left where the road clearly splits (staying to the right leads to Mowich Lake). As mentioned, parking is where the road dead-ends at the Carbon River entrance.

• How about my pups? This hike is within Mount Rainier National Park and that means your four-legged friends are not allowed.

• Entry fee: A National Park Pass is required. They are available at the ranger station and can be purchased for a day or a year; the best deal is a lifetime pass for those 62 and older.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Sports

It's been a while since local schools have been able to practice sports. Pictured is Coach Mark Gunderson working on technique with one of his players during an Aug. 28, 2019 practice. Photo by Kevin Hanson
At EHS and White River, football to begin Feb. 10, other sports to follow

Golf looks to be the only fall sport not starting next month.

Kentwood High football. FILE PHOTO
WIAA Executive Board revises Season 1 sports in response to state guidelines

Practices scheduled to begin Feb. 1 for football, volleyball, soccer and 5 other sports

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park is one of several local parks you can visit for free on Nov. 11 and 27. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks
State Parks announces last two ‘free days’ for 2020

Nov. 11 and 27 will be the last time you can visit a state park for free.

A new paved trail, provided by the city of Enumclaw, extends to a point just shy of the city limits. Here, a trail user and canine companion turn and head back toward Battersby Avenue. Photo by Kevin Hanson
Flat, smooth and short: two trails completed on Enumclaw’s north side

A quick tour of the new trail along Battersby Avenue.

Margaret Petellin
Enumclaw’s Petellin takes swim talents to Luther College

As a Hornet, Petellin was a four-year letter winner in swimming and track and field.

The Enumclaw pool won’t be filled for several months more, as extra repairs need to be done first.  Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Cold water thrown on pool’s grand-reopening

Plans to open the pool early November have been scrapped as more repairs appear necessary.

Screenshot
White River High taking nominations for Year 2 Hall of Fame inductees

Here’s what you need to know to nominate a sports legend from your time at WRHS.

In this file photo from March 2020, the Federal Way High School boys basketball team reacts in the final minutes of the state quarterfinals game against Mt. Si High School. File photo
New guidelines released for return of prep sports in WA

The new plan places counties and sports in three-tier systems. No signs of a quicker return to play.

File Photo/Kent Reporter
Emerald Downs increases horse racing purses

Betting up 67% over last year

The trailhead for Ranger Falls/Green Lake is clearly marked, three miles from the end of Carbon River Road; the trail to the falls is mostly uphill but provides great natural scenery; and, finally, the roaring falls is the ultimate payoff. Photos by Kevin Hanson
Ranger Falls: three easy miles, then it’s all uphill

This is the ninth in a series of articles about local hikes.

Foothills Trail: a popular destination now, even more planned for future
Foothills Trail: a popular destination now, even more planned for future

This is the ninth in a series of articles about local hikes.

Green River Natural Area: some trails short and simple, others provide a test
Green River Natural Area: some trails short and simple, others provide a test

This is the eighth in a series of articles about local hikes.