The only thing better than a hike to a Pacific Northwest waterfall is seeing a waterfall in the rain, when it is at its most powerful.
Less than 45 minutes from Bellevue, Twin Falls provides a journey through primordial forest along an ancient river, ending at a stunning destination, suitable for the whole family.
The trail starts out in Olallie State Park, just off Interstate 90 about 4 miles west of North Bend. The first .7 miles of the trail follow the beautiful south fork of the Snoqualmie River along a well-maintained trail, suitable for families with small children. Although not technically a rain forest, this area gets nearly double the rainfall of Seattle, which promotes the growth of fabulous mosses and ferns on the trees, creating a magical environment. Some of the old growth trees are an immense 12 to 14 feet in diameter.
After that, the trail leaves the river and climbs up the canyon via a series of winding switchbacks. Just when you think you can’t take it anymore, a small side trail leads to an overlook and a bench to preview the falls. Have a seat and take in the view, but don’t stay too long, because it gets better.
The trail continues along the edge of the canyon, where you will get occasional glimpses of the river below. Along the trail, an Eagle Scout project protects and educates passersby about an enormous old-growth Douglas fir.
“This area gets nearly double the rainfall of Seattle, which promotes the growth of fabulous mosses and ferns on the trees, creating a magical environment.”
At just about the 1.5-mile mark, a side trail leads to a fantastic set of stairs and the lower viewing platforms. This is a fabulous place to take pictures of the roaring 150-foot falls as they cascade over a rocky cliff smoothed by eons of rushing water, falling into a stunning pool below.
Another quarter-mile up the trail is a bridge that crosses the canyon and provides a view of the falls from the top. You can also view the upper falls from this bridge. Although not as stunning as the lower falls, they are quite beautiful, and it is well worth enjoying the pool and drop path of the water as it cuts through the rocks surrounded by lovely green foliage.
This hike into the waterfalls is relatively short, which allows those who aren’t physically up for a long hike or who have limited time to see something truly stunning. For those who’d like a longer day, this hike can be combined with others in the area.
For a triple waterfall adventure head over the pass to the Denny Creek exit to visit Franklin Falls, then end the day at Snoqualmie Falls for a scenic overlook, or hike to the bottom. When you’re done, enjoy a glass of wine and the stunning view at the Salish Lodge.
Whether you hike Twin Falls on its own for a quick break, while passing through on I-90, or make it part of a longer day, it’s well worth packing some extra dry clothing, putting on some rain gear, and getting outside.
Good to Know
3.5-mile round trip to the Iron Horse Trail and back.
Green Trails Issaquah Alps Series No. 206S Mount Si NRCA (Snoqualmie Pass Gateway Peaks)
- Dogs are allowed on leash.
- Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful pass required to park at trailhead.
How to get there:
Take exit 38 off Eastbound I-90. Turn right at the stop sign and proceed half a mile. The park entrance will be on the left.