Photo: Nick Hall Photography

Free Fallin’

Easy day trips from Seattle mean you’re more than welcome to go chase waterfalls.

The first thing you notice is the roar of gushing water. Then the sprinkle of mist on your nose, droplets carried by the wind. Finally, around the corner, you see it: Snoqualmie Falls. This 270-foot waterfall was made famous by Twin Peaks and is more than 100 feet taller than Niagara Falls. Happily, for Seattle visitors, it’s only a 35-minute drive.

Free parking lots at the top lead to a wheelchair-accessible viewing platform, where you can take in the breathtaking panorama. For further exploration, a 0.7-mile trail down a sloping dirt path ends at a wooden deck to afford you an even closer look at the falls. Back at the top, partake of the fresh Pacific Northwest fare at either of the two restaurants at Salish Lodge and Spa (6501 Railroad Ave SE, Snoqualmie), or pick up some fresh honey or a handmade souvenir from one of the tribal-, woman-, or BIPOC-owned businesses selling wares at the new sdukw albixw Gift Shop and Visitor Center.

Several nearby waterfalls are especially impressive in spring, when the mountain snowmelt is at its peak. Be sure to check weather, road, and trail conditions before you go as winter slush may still linger into early spring, and purchase a required Discover Pass or Northwest Forest Pass in advance.

Twin Falls

Trailhead: 35 miles east of Seattle in North Bend

Length: 2.6 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy–Moderate

More than 500 feet of elevation gain and quite a few sets of stairs are totally worth the picturesque views of these twin waterfalls. Old-growth trees, ferns, and spring wildflowers pretty up the scenery along the way. Discover Pass required.

Franklin Falls

Trailhead: 51 miles east of Seattle in Snoqualmie

Length: 2 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

The newly renovated trailhead and gently sloping path mean this trail is safe for even the youngest of hikers. A tiered waterfall flowing (and spraying) into a splash pool is the reward. Northwest Forest Pass required.

Wallace Falls State Park

Trailhead: 47 miles northeast of Seattle in Gold Bar

Length: 5.6 miles roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate

There are nine—yes, nine—waterfalls tucked away in this state park. Although there’s 1,300 feet of elevation gain, the Lower and Middle Falls stops are still doable for beginners. Switchbacks lead to the more challenging Upper Falls. Discover Pass required.


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