Clear Creek Falls is probably the most impressive waterfall in the immediate vicinity of Mount Rainier National Park but isn't actually located within the boundaries of the park. The falls plunge a sheer 228 feet in to an impressive, gaping, craggy canyon, with the volcanic remains of Spiral Butte looming behind, and Clear Lake visible in the distance. The canyon appears to have been formed by a process known as frost wedging. Water seeps into cracks in the rock, then freezes and thaws repeatedly, as the day cycles. The constant expanding and contraction of the ice in the cracks makes the rock cleave from the cliffs, and fall to the floor of the canyon. Because of this, at the bottom of the falls, the streambed is extremely rocky, and when the creek is running low, the water seeps underground, disappearing from view for several hundred yards. The falls themselves become more graceful with less water, but no matter when you visit these falls, or where you view them from, they are quite impressive. As of 2007 the viewpoint has been redeveloped and is now handicapped accessible.
- Clear Creek Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
Clear Creek Falls is accessed easiest by driving 2 1/2 miles east of White Pass along Highway 12, or 5.1 miles west of FR # 12, to the marked Clear Creek Falls viewpoint. Walk downstream along the canyon to any of several fenced vistas into the falls. Best view is about 200 feet downstream from the bathrooms. The falls can also be easily seen from a turnout along US 12, about 3/4 of a mile east of the parking lot for the canyon-rim viewpoint, where the highway bends away from Spiral Butte. Accessing the bottom of the falls is possible, but it requires both a good sense of direction, and good route finding skills. I haven't successfully made it to the bottom of the falls, so I will refrain from posting directions until I do.