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Fatal accidents possible, so popular mountain trail closed

4:05 pm July 25th, 2012

First a washout, now an avalanche are keeping Comet Falls Trail at Mount Rainier National Park closed to hikers.

Officials announced last Wednesday that a new closure is in effect below the falls to the river crossing in the area known as Van Trump Park. The closure is due to a large amount of avalanche debris, making the trail dangerous– including hazardous river crossings. A fall through hidden pockets in the snow could be fatal, officials warned.

In mid-June, a separate closure was ordered one mile beyond the trailhead because of a washout approximately 10 feet wide and 30 feet deep. Snow and ice added to the danger if hikers tried to walk around the collapsed portion of the path, park officials said.

The Comet Falls trailhead is four miles east of Longmire on the road to Paradise. Its name comes from one of the highest waterfalls in the park, which at 320 feet is described by some as resembling the tail of a comet. The trail rises steadily for its first 1.8 miles until it reaches the base of the falls, then takes switchbacks for about a mile uphill to the junction with Rampart Ridge Trail. It then winds through meadows until it dead-ends.

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