5 Best Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle
Looking for a waterfall trail to hike this weekend? Check out five of our favorite picks near Seattle.
A satisfying hike with a gorgeous reward at the end is our idea of a perfect weekend activity. There are many beautiful waterfall hikes near Seattle, but we’ll limit this list to our five of our favorites.
1. Snoqualmie Falls
Elevation gain: 250 feet
Highest point: 450 feet
Length: 1.4 miles round trip
Snoqualmie Falls might not challenge your hiking skills, but it will give you gorgeous views and a bit of a history lesson. Along the trail, experience the interpretive plaques discussing the native wildlife with their Snoqualmie names.
According to the Washington Trails Association, the Snoqualmie Tribe considers the falls to be humanity’s place of origin. For viewing of the powerful falls, you’ll have two options: park and take a short walk to the upper viewing deck or take the hike to the lower deck and base of the waterfall. Our suggestion: both!
2. Wallace Falls State Park
Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
Highest point: 1,500 feet
Length: 5.6 miles round trip
Boasting nine waterfalls, this state park has a number of options. The Woody Trail Route will take you along the Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls. If it’s sunny out, be sure to keep an eye out for a rainbow forming along the mist of the falls! And be sure to pack a lunch, as you’ll find a picnic area near the Lower Falls, about two miles from the trailhead.
The park is a popular destination for those looking for hikes near Seattle, so don’t expect solitude. Taking the trail from the Middle to Upper Falls will present you with the steepest conditions, but also leave behind a number of your fellow hikers.
3. Silver Falls Loop
Elevation gain: 300 feet
Highest point: 3,200 feet
Length: 3 miles round trip
Glacier-fed waters, moss-laden banks, fir-filled forests. The Silver Falls Loop in the Mount Rainier Area gives an experience well worth the drive. Though you’ll travel along the Ohanapecosh River, the trail stays above the mighty water most of the way.
About 1.5 miles in, the trail curves toward the river, offering spectacular views of the water thundering over the falls into the rocky canyon below. As one of the most popular hiking trails in the park, this trek is well-suited for hikers of all ages and abilities.
4. Franklin Falls
Elevation gain: 400 feet
Highest point: 2,600 feet
Length: 2 miles round trip
This hiking trail will give you the ‘wow’ without the ‘ow’. Take the whole family on a walk through the mossy forests, and in just a mile find yourself at the 70-foot-tall flowing falls. Franklin Falls is made up of three tiers, but only the third is visible from the trail.
Take in the sights from the viewing point, or get a little closer by following a narrow trail gouged into the rock to the base of the falls. Use caution, as rocks are slippery. If visiting during peak season (April to July), consider bringing along rain gear and waterproof shoes like the Mammut Comfort Low GTX® SURROUND® Shoes.
5. Goat Creek Trail
Elevation gain: 400 feet
Highest point: 2,400 feet
Length: 5.5 miles round trip
Surrounded by old forest that survived the 1980 Mount St. Helen eruption, this hike takes you not only up close and personal, but actually behind the falls.
At about half a mile in, the trail passes under the spectacular Cathedral Falls, so be prepared to get wet. Even better, this trail is lightly traveled, giving you a good shot at solitude among the trees and falls. After reaching the main attraction, the trail continues on following Goat Creek and climbs to views of the forest below.
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