Nickel Creek spends the final portion of its life coursing through a series of narrow gorges. Cougar Falls marks the beginning of the final gorge, before the creek merges with the Muddy Fork of the Cowlitz, in Box Canyon. There are several small waterfalls along Nickel Creek in the last mile of its existence, Cougar Falls is the only major waterfall which I know of. Here, the creek pours out of a shallow trench, carved into solid granite, and plunges a sheer 102 feet into a deep canyon below. Though the falls are no more than 100 yards from the Nickel Creek bridge, few people ever visit because both the falls aren't marked, and aren't obvious from upstream. Though the falls are very pretty, and rather impressive, I recommend only those who aren't uneasy with off-trail scrambling, particularly around steep canyons, visit this waterfall. On my last visit to this area, I also found a nice 25 foot waterfall about 1/3 of a mile upstream of the Highway, but I couldn't find any good vantages for pictures.
- Cougar Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
Located in Mount Rainier National Park, just east of Box Canyon. Drive east from Box Canyon, along SR 706, for about 2/3 of a mile to the Nickel Creek bridge and park at the turnout on the north side of the bridge. A well worn but unmaintained path descends downstream and skirts the rocks. In several places, the trail seems to end at the rim of the canyon, but it continues, paralleling the canyon, at a slightly higher level, until it eventually peters out in open forest a short distance further. The safest spot to view the falls is actually along the canyon rim about halfway between the falls and the point where Nickel Creek flows into the Cowlitz River. Scrambling down to the viewpoint my picture was taken from is very dangerous (I've taken a spill here more than once - one time just barely escaping serious injury) and ill advised.