Wonderland Trail to Carter Falls and Narada Falls

MODERATE 63 reviews
#25 of 107 trails in

Wonderland Trail to Carter Falls and Narada Falls is a 5.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Packwood, Washington that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October.

5.6 miles
1,404 feet
Out & Back



nature trips






wild flowers

no dogs

The Carter Falls Trail features an awesome 2 for 1. Both Carter Falls & Madcap Falls along the Paradise River in Mount Rainier National Park. Begins 0.1 miles (0.2 km) below Cougar Rock Campgrounds. An easy old-growth forest walk along the Paradise River. Walk past Carter Falls another 150 feet (45.7 m) to see Madcap Falls

15 days ago

Started at Longmire and ended at Madcap falls. Total distance is 7.2 miles out and back. Beautiful hike! When you get to Carter falls Madcap falls is only steps away. I thought Madcap was prettier than Carter. This is now one of my favorite Mount Rainier hikes!

1 month ago

Only hiked up to the first set of falls. It's pretty chill the first half and steep the second, but there is neat scenery between the beginning and end, from the rocky river bed with a view if Rainier to the falls and the creek. It does get rather steep but we saw kids, elderly people and people with babies hiking it as well.

2 months ago

What I expected in the Pacific NW!

2 months ago

Hiked this yesterday, on Fourth of July. Great trail along the river with beautiful waterfalls in a wooded setting. Perfect for hiking on a warm, sunny day if you want lots of shade and coolness from the water. Highly recommend. :)

2 months ago

Nice, easy hike. The trail is very wide in spots. Some parts of the trail are in very bad condition. A bridge near Narada Falls is bent toward the water. I didn't know if it was safe for crossing, but I did it anyway. Carter Falls and Madcap Falls are beautiful sights along the way. The hike was bug-free and there was no snow on the trail, just two patches to the side.

3 months ago

Great hike at this time of year! We hiked up to Narada Falls and then came back down. Right after Madcap Falls there was a half a mile or so of snow, but it was easily hikeable with standard hiking boots. A pole could be helpful, but isn't necessary. This is the flattest stretch of the hike, so the snow actually made it much better of a hike. I would certainly recommend hiking this trail during this time of year.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Beautiful waterfall views. We went decently early, so there wasn't a whole lot of people on the trail until we started the descent. Nice and peaceful!

Monday, August 07, 2017

This was our first trail hike with elevation change, we started at the Narada falls parking lot and descended to the 2nd Paradise Rover crossing without trekking poles, water, or appropriate boots. The section was 1,600ft total elevation change in just about 1 mile round trip. Brutal.

Monday, July 24, 2017

We only walked as far as Carter Falls, as it was evening and we'd already hiked up to Panorama Point earlier in the day. The first part of the trail was the most interesting, following along the Nisqually River. Most of the time was spent hiking in the woods. Carter Falls is a little hidden in the woods, but all in all a lovely hike.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Thought it was only 2 miles, oops. Straight climb but beautiful!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Great hike, went in Mid May so the higher we got after crossing over the river more snow we ran into that wasn't fully packed down yet. But still manageable! :)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Beautiful mountain views with some nice, large trees. The falls are gorgeous too.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

This trail was a great hike. First couple miles were not difficult at all. After mile 3 the snow is really thick with lots of powder. Note to self: Bring snow shoes next time! Carter Falls was cool, but Narada Falls was amazing! If you can't make the 4 mile hike up from below, you can hike to see Narada falls from the turn off where there is parking and even a comfort station if you need to warm your toes. Going around to a great viewpoint only takes about a 1/10 of a mile hike from the parking area going down hill. If you attempt this hike now (April) be prepared to have a difficult trek to Narada. There were multiple bridges with more than 10 feet of snow on them. Also, past mile 3, the trail is easily lost. Bring a GPS with you. If I didn't have mine, I would have had to turn back and never made it. Overall this was an amazing hike I will definitely do again.. in the summer.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Beautiful! Only downside was that it was extremely foggy and we could not see the mountain at all, but Carter Falls is awesome!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An easy hike on a groomed trail. We parked at the turnoff before Cougar Rock. We walked down do the Nisqually river and crossed over the footbridge. Follow the trail and and it leads you to walk along the Paradise River. Just slight elevation gain. Most of this hike is in the shade. Did this hike with a 7 & 11 year old. Made it up to Carter Falls. Went a little beyond and took a break at (which I guess is) Medcap Falls. Made that our turn around point, but you could continue on this portion of the Wonderland Trail to Narada Falls. Our hike overall was 2 1/2 miles.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A nice trail for folks just wanting to get out on the trail with the family. It's also a great location to try out baby carriers, new packs or boots before taking them out on a more challenging route.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

We started at bottom and hiked to the top. The trail head start out crossing a very rocky river bed with a log foot bridge over the river. Once across the trail is hidden under a large tire off to the left. It flattens out for ways but don't be fooled by this...it's all up hill from here! The trail is rocky in place and is loaded with tree roots so well prepared for this. Also, there will be four more foot bridges to cross along the way.

During the climb there are some great views of the river below, but keep close eye on any young children hiking with you for the trail has some steep drop off's along way that could be disastrous if not careful.

About half way at 3,360 feet you'll come Carter Falls which is beautiful with roaring water, sharp rocks and crystal clear waters. It in itself makes the hike worth it. Shortly after Carter Falls you come to MadCap Falls which wasn't mark at the time of our hike, but just as beautiful.

From this point just a long drawn out climb to Narada Falls which amazing. Best to go on a warm day, cause mist from the falls is cold and completely soaks the 200 feet of the trail. There are some great spots to view and rest in this area...

In all we felt it was a good hike and well worth the effort... If course if you feel like cheating, you can drive to the top of Narada Fall and just walk down a few hundred feet to view it.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Moderate views, convenient location, good conditioning hike with lots of options to extend or shorten hike.

Monday, August 10, 2015

We have a large family with a wide variety of ages/abilities. We have started hiking & we generally choose easier trails because of our littles - we have three that are under 5. However, this trail may not be suited for littles this age. To us as beginning hikers this trail seemed very steep. A lot of uphill and sometimes narrow trails. We had hoped to press on to Madcap Falls but frankly we were all exhausted. Many other hikers, I'm assuming also at a beginning level, chatted with us in passing agreeing that the hike was a real challenge. Not that that is bad thing, but I would probably not have attempted this hike knowing that it was this steep. In case your wondering, we were victorious in our effort to see Carter Falls, it was a sweet moment of glory for all of us. I do wish there was a better view of the falls, but it was still beautiful. Also, keep in mind that you have to cross a bridge with 40 degree raging rapid water to get to the trail. I was nervous about it, but it was sturdy, just keep your hands on or carry or baby wear your littles across:) I would probably wait to attempt this one again until my youngest is 5-6 (most kids we saw hiking were 10+). All in all, we did enjoy the views and being out in nature.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

We hiked this trail today. Even tho the weather was mostly cloudy, it was a beautiful trail! We loved it, except that we parked waaaay further down the mountain by the longmire lodge and after seeing Carter falls, we pressed on and went further up to see Narada Falls. It was totally worth it, but made the entire hike about 10miles long.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday 7-11-2014: My wife and I hiked from Cougar Rock Campground day use area to Carter Falls, Madcap Falls, and Narada Falls and back. 6 miles round trip with 1300 ft elevation gain in 4 hours including several breaks. The weather was sunny and warm. The spray from Narada Falls felt cool. Narada Falls is by far the best looking falls. It is unfortunate that there is no clear view of Carter Falls from the "view" point.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

This was my first ever hike. It was lovely. The are is so fresh out there. Fairly easy hike leads to a lovely waterfall. I would do it again.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Anywhere else, I'd put this as a 4 star trail (or higher)... Easy to moderate track, quick outing -- solid falls at the end. But in a place with so many options, it's just not the first on the list, or the second. Still worth a visit but save it for the slower day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Took the trail from Longmire and hiked to both carter and madcap falls. Saw signs pointing to Narada falls throughout the hike so we decided to continue along the Wonderland to Narada which proved to be a very good decision. The trail gets steeper between madcap and Narada but the falls are worth it. Will definitely do it again.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Started the hike about 10:30 am and finished 2 hrs. Went past both the falls but the trail beyond started to be covered with snow so we turned around. was a good hike. Not too much up hill and being next to the river most the time was nice.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Great trail! Spectacular view of the south side of Mt Rainier when crossing the river!!. Moderate difficulty with some flat sections and some challenging uphill sections too. Both falls were beautiful!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

One of the more popular trails in Mount Rainier National Park probably due to its close proximity to Longmire and also being included as a section of the Wonderland Trail that circles the entire National Park. You'll cross the Nisqually River on a footbridge and then enter a nice and cool old growth forest before making your slow climb along the Paradise River to Carter and then Madcap Falls. The 2 for 1 waterfalls give this a 4 star rating, but a disappointment is the viewpoint for Carter Falls, which is really not a viewpoint at all. Getting a beautiful picturesque scene of Carter Falls would require hopping the railing and I am not a fan of heights and it really doesn't look like a safe trek at all. Why the National Park Service has not constructed a better viewpoint of the falls is beyond me. Even State Parks like Twin Falls outside North Bend have constructed viewpoints that would be like the one Carter Falls requires, and this is a National Park. That aside, it is still a wonderful hike in the Longmire area of the park.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Beautiful trail!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Carter Falls trail was a good trail. Moderate difficulty, and a little bit of challenge. The falls were pretty impressive, and especially if you continue on to Madcap falls, and Nirada Falls. I would reccommend this trail to anyone willing to have a little up hill challenge.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Carter falls is a small section of the Wonderland trail. It is an easy hike starting across the Cougar Rock Campground at the Paradise river trailhead. Its a short hike to this falls and the view is ok. I would suggest keep walking another mile or so and continue to Narada Falls the view is much much better.

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