Thunder Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls in the Mount Rainier area, in part because of its extremely photogenic qualities. Summit Creek fans out in a remarkably symmetrical fashion, as it drops 82 feet into a natural amphitheater. Though the appearance of the falls doesn't change much, the character of the falls varies greatly with the volume of the creek. Later in the year, as seen above, the falls are exceptionally scenic, and very tranquil. However, early in the summer, when Summit Creek is fueled by snowmelt, the falls live up to their name, turning into a deafening wall of noise. Although the falls are relatively easy to reach, does take some effort, and pose some danger. On my last visit, I noticed someone had placed a nice memorial for their son near the top of the falls (whom I suspect may have fallen or drown at the falls), a testament to the danger in the area. Despite this, for those of you comfortable with scrambling, I highly recommend visiting this waterfall.
- Thunder Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
- Known Alternate Names: Summit Creek Falls
Located just outside Mount Rainier National Park, near Highway 12. From the junction of US 12 and SR 123, just south of the southern entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, drive east, towards White Pass, along US 12 for 1.3 miles, to Summit Creek Road #4510. Follow this road for 2 miles, staying left at all junctions, to an unmarked turnout shortly before reaching the Summit Creek Campground (just after a large rock on the left of the road. An unmarked path traverses a few hundred feet to Upper Summit Creek Falls, then heads downstream for about 1/10 of a mile, becoming steep near the end, to the base of Thunder Falls. If the path seems to end at one point, backtrack a few feet and go downhill through some bushes to the right, which hide the trail.