Best Hikes to see Waterfalls

By Kristen Russell & Roddy Scheer


June 15, 2012

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Seattle Magazine.

Twin Falls State Park
Near North Bend

Twin Falls
Moderate; 3 miles round-trip, 500-foot elevation gain 
Location: About 30 miles east of Seattle via Interstate 90. Nearest town: North Bend, 7 miles. Discover Pass required; 

For a nearby hike that feels a world away, scoot east to Twin Falls near North Bend and take a sweet summer ramble along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. You’ll skirt the banks for a half-mile or so, past a couple of excellent wading spots, then head up a few switchbacks to get your first glimpse of the lower (and more spectacular) of the Twin Falls. Continue along this well-traveled trail to about the one-mile mark, until you reach an unmarked spur trail heading down wooden steps to your right; this leads to a sturdy little lookout platform with a striking view of the 150-foot falls. From this snug perch, jutting out over the pool far below, nibble chocolate and muse awhile about the awesome power of pounding water. Then head back out on the trail another half-mile, tag the bridge that spans the river and turn around for the easy hike out.


Franklin Falls
Near North Bend

Franklin Falls
Easy; 2 miles round-trip, 400-foot gain 
Location: About 45 minutes east of Seattle via Interstate 90. Nearest town: North Bend, 20 miles. Northwest Forest Pass required; dogs prohibited;

Just an easy mile through the mossy woods and suddenly, you’re standing at the base of a roaring 70-foot-tall giant, soaking up spray and reveling in the fact that two hours earlier, you were in the city. Don some waterproof shoes and take this refreshing little jaunt along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River; it can be just the thing for those seeking a not-too-subtle reminder of our region’s natural beauty. The route is easy—and extremely kid-friendly—but take it slow the last 100 yards or so, which descend steeply to the base of the falls. Linger and enjoy the view, but be sure to stay well back from the falls; the surface is slippery, and rocks are sometimes carried over the falls to plummet into the pool below.


Silver Falls
Mount Rainier

Silver Falls
Moderate; 3-mile loop, 300-foot elevation gain 
Location: About one hour and 40 minutes from Seattle, in Mount Rainier National Park, leaving from the Ohanapecosh Campground. Nearest town: Packwood, 14 miles. Dogs prohibited;

One glimpse of this gorgeous, glacier-fed waterfall more than makes up for the drive to reach this, one of the most well-loved trails in the park. Meander past hot springs, where a health resort stood from the 1920s to 1960 (clothing optional!), then climb; at one and a half miles, you get your first glimpse of the mighty Ohanapecosh, thundering over falls into the narrow, rocky canyon below. Stand on the bridge and gawk, then continue up the trail for an ever-closer look at the top, and several picnic-worthy overlooks. Pick up the back half of the loop that runs along the west side of the Ohanapecosh River, through the moss-covered old growth for an easy hike out.

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