Waterfall hikes near Seattle are so ubiquitous that if you are living in Seattle or visiting for a while, you can have a different hike every day. And most of them end up in a gorgeous waterfall.
For me, waterfalls make it worthwhile sweating up the 1000 feet elevation, mud and being constantly soaked to the bone.
And while you are searching for the waterfall, look around: you are passing through some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.
There are trails that pass through old-growth magnificent trees. Others are surrounded by lush ferns, blooming rhododendrons or spikes of lupine.
Snow-capped peaks of Mount Rainer, the Cascade or the Olympic Mountains are the background to take your breath away. Here are just some waterfall hikes near Seattle you should not miss.
Best waterfalls near Seattle to visit with kids
Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle – Twin Falls, Snoqualmie Pass
There are some waterfall hikes near Seattle that are just perfect for kids and Twin Falls is one of the best. Kids love crossing a footbridge on the way to see the 135-foot-high waterfall and the fairytale ancient forests with old trees covered in moss.
The falls are part of Olallie State Park and are beautiful to visit any time of the year – 60 inches of rain per year in North Bend feed the falls with a constant supply of water.
The hike is about three miles round trip and is not very difficult, with an elevation gain of 500 feet only. The trail follows the Snoqualmie River on the way to the falls. It is surrounded by ancient moss-covered trees and lush blooms in spring.
There are benches along the trail for younger kids to take a break. To reach the falls, visitors have to cross a scary-looking footbridge between the two falls, providing a spectacular view.
Wallace Falls, North Cascades
About an hour from Seattle is another waterfall that can be reached by a very exciting hike. It has it all: giant pine trees, some interesting steps, switchbacks, jagged rocks, and three waterfalls plunging 265 feet into a massive amphitheater.
From there, it tumbles two more times, creating a dense mist that makes everything glowing. And soaked.
It is a 4.5 miles round-trip hike, with about 700 feet elevation gain. It has some easy and some more challenging observation points. The falls are located within Wallace Falls State Park.
This waterfall is one of the most beautiful falls in Washington state, and that means crowds. If you want to enjoy it in peace and solitude, come in winter. The falls are magnificent any time of the year.
The trailhead is in the town of Gold Bar. There is a sign for Wallace Falls State Park. If you are lucky and the weather permits, you will enjoy the view of Baring Mountain and Mount Index.
The trail runs through a hemlock forest full of lush ferns. The portion that leads towards lower falls is the tricky one the kids love and parents do not: it is mostly switchbacks and steep stairs.
The park has a campground and rentable cabins if you want to stay overnight.
Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle – Bridal Veil Falls
A bit more than an hour’s drive will take you from Seattle to Bridal Veil Falls, another very popular hikers’ destination, so be prepared to share this beauty with a lot of folks. The falls are part of the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest.
The hike is fairly easy, with the elevation gain of about 850 feet and only a few fairly steep switchbacks and some cedar stairs on the way to the base of the falls.
The first half of this very beautiful hike is along an old logging road through a lush forest of conifers, alder and maple. You will have to cross a few small streams by hopping on rock steps.
It takes four miles to get to the base of the steep 100-foot almost vertical rock face from which water spills down in a wide lacy spray, sort of like a bridal veil.
If you do not mind a bit of climbing, take the stairway to the bottom of the fall for a very different perspective. The mist makes the trail and the stairs slippery so keep an eye on the kids. Be prepared to get wet!
The falls are beautiful year-round and if you come in spring or summer when it gets most crowded, come early in the morning. You will also get a better chance to find parking.
A hike to Myrtle Falls is an easy one-mile trip with only a 100-foot elevation, but it is absolutely magnificent and the kids’ delight.
In the heart of the Paradise Area of Mount Rainier Park, the trail runs through meadows covered in wildflowers and whistling marmots, all with a spectacular background view of the mountains and glaciers.
Summer is the best time to come to see chubby, playful marmots that make funny whistling sounds, as well as a rainbow of colors created by blooming wildflowers on the way to the charming waterfall.
The fall is picture-perfect, fed by melting snow from Nisqually Glacier. The trail to the falls is the first segment of the famous Skyline Trail. It starts at the Paradise Inn, and from there it is an easy stroll to the falls.
The trail runs over a footbridge and will take you right above the misty cascade of Myrtle Falls. The bridge is the best spot to look down at the falls. You can also find a nearby trail that will take you down for a different perspective.
The closer you get to the falls, the more wet you will get, so it would be good to have a poncho or some other cover.
Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle – Murhut Falls
Located in Olympic National Park, Murhut Falls takes about two and half hours to reach from Seattle, but it is well worth the drive. The trail to this gorgeous 130-foot tiered fall is an easy 1.6-mile round-trip, with only 300 feet elevation gain.
This hike is not well known so you have a pretty good chance of enjoying it in solitude. The trail, an old converted and well-maintained logging road, is easy and beautiful, running through the magnificent forest and surrounded by lush ferns.
The best time to go is in the spring when pink Pacific rhododendrons are in full bloom and producing quite a show. They are so beautiful that your hike might take longer than you planned while you are taking hundreds of photos.
There is a part of the trail, just before you reach the fall, that is pretty steep and narrow and it has a drop-off on one side, so make sure the kids are under control.
Marymere Falls, Olympic Peninsula
Marymere Falls are magnificent cascading falls in the Olympic National Park near Lake Crescent. It drops 90 feet from a gap in a sheer, almost vertical cliff.
The Marymere Falls Nature Trail is about two miles long round trip, with only 400 feet elevation gain. It is easy and popular with families. The kids love all those steps and rough bridges made of old worn logs.
The trailhead is at the Storm King Ranger Station parking lot. The first portion is paved and it passes under U.S. 101 before it branches off along a small stream surrounded by ancient mossy giant trees. The last part of the trail is a 200-foot climb to the fern-filled narrow ravine.
From there you can see Falls Creek spilling of the cliff into a deep pool just off the trail. The stairs on the right side of the falls will take you to the upper part of the fall for a spectacular view.
Waterfall hikes near Seattle to enjoy any time of the year
Snoqualmie Falls is probably one of the best-known waterfalls in the state thanks to the television show Twin Peaks. But even before the show, hikers enjoyed the spectacular 270-foot waterfall that is so easy to reach by a short half-hour drive from Seattle.
The waterfall, located in the North Bend area, is beautiful in any season, but to have any chance of a bit of solitude, come in winter. Peace, quiet and soft mist give the falls a fairytale atmosphere.
There is more than one way to reach this spectacular waterfall. Some trails are seriously challenging while others are well-managed and have informative viewpoints along the road.
The most popular hike is 2.3 kilometers always busy round-trip trail used for hiking from May to October but can be enjoyed on skis when it gets covered in snow. Dogs are allowed on leash.
If you want to spend a weekend, check out the Salish Lodge. It offers a great view of the falls but also good food and luxury accommodation.
Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle – Whatcom Falls
If you drive from Seattle for about an hour and a half towards the Canadian border, you will come to the charming town of Bellingham known for its college and an understated but nevertheless beautiful Whatcom Falls.
Whatcom Falls is part of the 241-acre Whatcom Park in Bellingham. The falls are formed by Whatcom Creek, which creates four sets of not very dramatic but picturesque waterfalls.
There are about three miles of well-managed walking trails on both sides of the falls, surrounded by old mossy forest and a lush meadow at one point. There are even a few old stone bridges.
Spend some time exploring Bellingham. It’s a port from which ferries travel to Alaska. If you look east of the town, you will see Mount Baker, a massive snow-capped extinct volcano.
About two and half hour drive from Seattle, in the Longmire/Paradise area of Mount Rainier Park, is one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle – Comet Falls Trail.
This challenging 3.8 miles roundtrip hike will take you to Comet Falls. The Comet Falls is how everyone imagines Washington State waterfalls – dramatic and awe-inspiring. But you have to work for it.
The trail follows a churning, tumbling whitewater creek as it roars through a glacier-carved gorge before it drops 300 feet in one single dramatic plunge.
In the next two miles, you will see many small and two bigger falls as you go upstream. The elevation gain is 1250 ft. taking you to the highest point of 4875 ft.
You can reach the trailhead from the parking lot at Mount Rainier Park’s west entrance. The trail starts wide and smooth, at the elevation of 3650 feet, surrounded by some ancient and some much younger trees.
As you reach a bridge over Van Trump Creek, you can see Christine Falls downstream and whitewater roaring through a rocky riverbed downstream.
Most of the trail runs along Van Trump Creek. Even if you do not see it, you can certainly hear it.
Be prepared to scale some rock faces. This is not a hike for the weekend worriers. But what fun for experienced hikers looking for some adrenaline rush!
Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle – Christine Falls
Christine Falls is a little gem you can easily access from the road to the Paradise Area of the Mount Rainier Park. But first, you have to drive two and half hours from Seattle.
Christine Falls is formed by Van Trump Creek as it plunges 69 feet to the pool below. The best view is from the Christine Falls Bridge, a lovely stone bridge that spans the lower drop.
The upper 32 feet drop is more difficult to see, to the frustration of photographers who are trying to catch both drops in one photo. The trail to the upper trail is difficult and dangerous in winter.
You can reach the trailhead from the Nisqually entrance of Mt. Rainier Park. Drive about ten miles past the Comet Falls trailhead until you reach a small parking area. There is a set of stairs that leads to the bridge overlooking the falls.
If you do not feel for hiking but would like to visit one of the waterfalls near Seattle, go see Victor Falls. A short 45-minute drive will take you to the small town of Bonney Lake. The waterfall is a few minute walk from the parking lot.
The falls are formed by Fennel Creek plunging over an escarpment, dropping 68 feet in a wide curtain of water. Before and after the falls the creek flows placidly through a lush valley covered in low bushes and small trees.
It is not common to find waterfalls at such low elevation and fairly flat ground, so enjoy it, it is quite pretty.
Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle – Granite Falls
Granite Falls is the only major waterfall on the South Fork Stillaguamish River as it runs through a narrow gorge. There is a bridge across the river that offers a fantastic view of the gorge just above the falls.
The falls are cascading about 40 vertical feet in 300 feet of run, mostly in a 25-foot churn at the top. But, when the water is high, things change dramatically and the falls become a roaring force of nature.
There is a 540-foot long fish ladder along the falls that parallels the river. The ladder is the main viewing platform for the fall.
The falls are located less than 45 minutes from Seattle and about one mile from the town of Granite Falls.
To find the trailhead, drive the Mountain Loop Highway out of town until you see a sign on your left saying “Granite Falls Fishway”. From there, there is a path down to the falls.
For a little longer waterfall hike near Seattle, take a 45-minute drive to the North Bend Area and see wonderful Teneriffe Falls.
The hike named the Mount Teneriffe trail is 5.4 miles there and back. Its length discourages too many visitors and makes this hike a more secluded experience. You will have the trail surrounded by lush secondary forests often to yourself.
If you go in June, bright pink spikes of blooming lupine will greet you on both sides of the trail. And at the end, the Teneriffe Falls will take your breath away.
Since the elevation gain is 1,585 feet, this is considered a moderately difficult hike. Add to that the 22 switchbacks you will have to deal with to reach the lookout to see the upper and lower falls.
Wear good boots, there are a lot of loose rocks and once the ground is frozen in winter and spring, it also gets slippery. You will quickly understand why was Teneriffe Falls called Kamikaze Falls before. Dogs are allowed on leash.
Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle – Coal Creek Falls
Of all the waterfall hikes near Seattle, Coal Creek Falls is probably the closest. Only a short 16 miles drive will take you near Bellevue to the multi-tiered Coal Creek Falls as they cascade down the Cougar Mountain.
The trail is only five miles there and back and with an elevation of only 400 feet, it is considered easy. It is very beautiful. You will be hiking through a lush forest of alder, fir, and cottonwoods. In spring, wildflowers create a riot of colors.
The trail starts within the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park. It ends at the 28-foot waterfall that is most dramatic at the end of winter when the snowmelt and rain run down the mountain.
Cherry Creek Falls
One of the waterfall hikes near Seattle, Cherry Creek Falls is very popular, especially in summer. About 30 miles from the city, near Duvall in Central Cascades at Stevens Pass, this easy five-mile hike has an elevation gain of only 450 feet.
The trail follows Cherry Creek almost all the way to the waterfall. Take a photo of the old bridge over the creek you will cross on the way.
The 25-foot falls drop over a rocky, wide ledge into a large, deep pool. You can take a dip in the water below the fall in the summer, but don’t get too close to the waterfall. This is also a nice spot to have a lunch or snack while enjoying the view.
The first part of the trail runs through a private property. Keep the dog on the leash, do not litter and keep the noise down so that the hikers do not lose the privilege of using this trail.
Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle – Little Mashel Falls
The Little Mashel Waterfalls is made up of three waterfalls created by the Little Mashel River as it runs through a narrow gorge in the Pack Forest, not far above the confluence with the Mashel River (the big one). It is located near Eatonville, about an hour and a half drive from Seattle.
The tallest of the three falls drops more than 90 feet in a truly dramatic fashion. Other falls, while smaller, are not small by any account, especially after heavy rains.
The two main trails are Pack Forest and Bud Blancher (which is more popular.) Regardless of the trail you choose, it is 4.5 miles round trip with an elevation of about 500 feet. The two trails meet at the junction between the Lower and Middle Falls.
Both trails are mostly made of crushed rock. The Pack Forest trail is not easy to stay on route, requires more care and has no facilities. But, it offers views of Mount Rainier that are not available if you take the Bud Blancher trail.
You will also be able to see the beautiful cascade as it drops from the top of gorgeous Tom Tom Falls. You pay for it by having a bit more elevation gain and quite a bit more mud.
Both trailheads are accessible year-round.
If you have no other reason to visit Seattle, waterfall hikes near Seattle are good enough reason by themselves. That much beauty packed in one area is truly breathtaking.
There are many waterfalls near Seattle and almost all are accessible year-round. Many require an easy hike you can do with the kids. Most are very popular. Seattle folks love their spectacular outdoors. If you want some solitude, go early or go in the winter.
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