Indian Canyon Falls, Washington

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Indian Canyon Falls in April 2011

I should have written about this waterfall years ago. I visited Indian Canyon Falls in April 2011, and I distinctly remember enjoying my visit to Indian Canyon Falls, but I don’t remember many of the other details about the hike. Was it a difficult hike? I don’t remember? How long is the hike? Not really sure. And searching online doesn’t seem to provide a whole lot of clear information, even 8 years later. It seems to be a hidden gem still.

Indian Canyon Falls is right outside of Spokane. I stumbled upon it searching online. It’s not in many books about waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest. I don’t remember it being a particularly difficult hike nor do I remember it being long, but it’s been a while. It seems from searching that the hike is a short one, but that it is of moderate difficulty. When I visited in April, there seemed to be more water flowing over the falls than I have seen in some other pictures. I still found it to be a beautiful waterfall, and if you’re in the Spokane area, I would encourage you to seek out Indian Canyon Falls.

Directions:

  1. I’m just going to provide the last few steps you’ll probably take to get to the parking area for the falls. You’ll end up on N Government Way at some point. You’ll want to head north, likely.
  2. Turn left on W Greenwood Rd.
  3. After about 1000 feet, you’ll then split left onto S Indian Canyon Drive. You should come to a parking area at W Canyon Drive (at least that’s what it shows on Google).
  4. I don’t remember if there were numbered trails. One website refers to using trail 121…The waterfall seemed easy enough to find.

Accessibility: 6/10 (Moderate)
Height: ~30′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip (?)

Where in the World is Indian Canyon Falls?

Christine Falls, Washington

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The lower drop of Christine Falls in July 2018

During the 4th of July weekend, I had the chance to visit Mount Rainier National Park, which I would absolutely suggest doing. It’s another stunning national park to add to the list if you haven’t already. One of the benefits of Mount Rainier…a lot of waterfalls!

Mount Rainier is over 14000′ in elevation, and if you consider that much of that elevation change happens over a relatively short distance from sea level, it leads to a lot of chances to find waterfalls. There are a number of marked waterfalls on the main map, but there are many others that you can find along the way. One of the first waterfalls you might encounter is Christine Falls. It’s essentially a roadside waterfall you’ll come across along one of the main roadways in the park. It’s taller than it appears in this photograph, but one part of the drop is at an angle hidden behind a rock. You can view the upper portion of the falls from the road. The road is narrow, though, so you have to careful if you want to view the upper portion.

The main thing that has kept me from visiting Mount Rainier until this point…the weather. The other times I have visited Washington have been earlier in the year, generally. This is not the ideal time to visit much of the park, as many of the roadways and trails will be covered in snow. Even in early July, a number of the trails at Paradise were STILL covered with feet of snow, though the outdoor temperatures were very comfortable. You still maybe able to visit some of the lower elevation waterfalls, but it’s a better bet to show up in the summer months. (Of course, you then run into more people…)

Directions:

  1. We entered the park on WA-706 heading east (at the Nisqually Entrance).
  2. You will pass the National Park Inn and Longmire Museum, and after a few more miles and switchbacks, you will pass the trail head for Comet Falls. Comet Falls is on the same creek, but is at a higher elevation and requires a longer hike (which I didn’t attempt).
  3. Shortly after passing that trail head, you’ll cross a bridge where you may notice the upper portion of the falls. After this, there is a parking area on your right.
  4. From this parking area, there is a very short downhill hike that leads to the view shown in this pictures.

Accessibility: 9/10 (Easy)
Height: 75′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip (essentially roadside)

Where in the World is Christine Falls?

Tumwater Falls, Washington

In the city of Tumwater, Washington (south of Olympia), you’ll find Tumwater Falls. It’s kind of the quintessential downtown waterfall complete with a park. It’s not particularly wide or tall, though it is unique in its shape. Unlike some of the other Washington waterfalls, I don’t know if I’d go far out of my way to see Tumwater Falls, but if you’re in the area, I’d stop for a bit.

When I visited with my nephew two years ago, we almost didn’t show up at the right time. I just assumed you could visit the park anytime, but that’s not exactly correct. There are gates that close the park by 8 pm. I tried to park in one area, only to find out it was blocked earlier than 8 pm. I then parked on a main road and walked into the park since the exit to the park wasn’t closed yet. (If it sounds complicated, it kind of was for visiting a small waterfall.) I think we had about 15 minutes, and that was more than enough time to see the falls and explore a bit. As you explore, you’ll notice the falls have a few different drops, though it’s hard to capture all of them in the same photograph. I’ve decided to just include the most interesting/closest drop.

Directions:

  1. This is in the heart of Tumwater, so it might be easier to set your GPS to go directly to the park. If you’re headed north on I-5, exit 103 will lead you directly to Deschutes Way SW (if you continue forward instead of veering right).
  2. On Deschutes Way SW, you can either turn on C Street SW, where you’ll find a parking area to your left (which closed early), or you can park on Deschutes Way SW, which is what I did.
  3. From there, explore the park.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 10′
Length of Hike: negligible

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Tumwater Falls in June 2016

Where in the World is Tumwater Falls?

Rodney Falls (and Hardy Falls), Washington

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The upper portion of Rodney Falls in September 2017

When I visited Portland, Oregon, this past September, wildfires showed up in the Columbia River Gorge. They were intense enough that many of the waterfalls in that area were off limits. Some of them are just now coming back to life in late December. So I decided to head to the less-visited Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.

There are a number of waterfalls on the Washington side, though they’re not as well advertised or always as accessible. Woodburn Falls and Pothole Falls are both further west in the city of Camas. Rodney Falls and Hardy Falls are about 20 miles east in Beacon Rock State Park.

The hike to both falls is on the medium/moderate side. It’s about a 2.5 mile round-trip, but it is consistently uphill on the way to the falls. As I hiked along, there were remnants of ash from the other side of the gorge! It makes you realize how forest fires could travel even across a rather large river. The hike is not difficult to follow until you get very near the end. And then it’s just a bit confusing about where you should really focus your effort and attention.

I would usually separate posts about these two falls, but Hardy Falls isn’t worth a separate post. There is a spur that leads to an “overlook” of Hardy Falls, but it was almost impossible to see the falls due to plant growth. It might be a better view in the winter months when leaves aren’t on the trees. I’ve read that there is a way to get to the base of Hardy Falls, but it seems rather precarious to me. It’s a 90′ waterfall, and it wasn’t clear how you’d get to the base. I thought following some of the trails would lead me closer, but they didn’t.

If I were to go in the summer, I would instead focus most of my time and energy on Rodney Falls, which is a bit further upstream along the same stream. At 80′ overall, it’s not as tall as Hardy Falls, but it is much easier to view. The biggest drop is approximately 40′ if I understand correctly, and while you can’t get directly next to the falls, you can get very close. It’s actually a very cool view.

Directions:

  1. From Vancouver, WA, drive east along WA-14 to Beacon Rock State Park.
  2. Pass the ranger station to your left, and then take a left onto a road signed for camping/hiking. This road will climb uphill.
  3. You’ll want to go to the parking area for the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead. There is a fee to visit the park, and you can pay it at a self-service station.
  4. From there, start your hike along the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead. It’s about 1.25 miles to the waterfalls. The trail does continue on to Hamilton Mountain.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: Hardy Falls: 90′, Reagan Falls: 80′
Length of Hike: 2.5 miles roundtrip

Where in the World is Hardy Falls and Reagan Falls?

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Can you see Hardy Falls? It’s actually pretty tall!

Salmon Cascades, Washington

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Salmon Cascades in June 2016

The Salmon Cascades aren’t probably a waterfall that I’d go out of my to visit if it weren’t for a few things. First, it’s a quick stop along the way to the very impressive Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park. Second, if you show up at the right time of the year, you may see salmon jumping up the falls to go further upstream. Hence the name Salmon Cascades.

The falls themselves are only about 5′ tall, so they’re nothing to get too excited about. Depending on how you classify waterfalls, they might not even fall into that category. It’s such a quick stop and short hike to the river, though, that there’s no reason not to take a look.

Directions:

  1. From US-101, turn onto Sol Duc Hot Springs Road. If you’re heading west along US-101, it’s a left turn.
  2. Drive just over 7 miles to the Salmon Cascades parking area on your right. It’s not a big parking area.
  3. The falls are a very short jaunt from the parking area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 5′
Length of Hike: negligible (essentially roadside)

Where in the World is Salmon Cascades?

Sol Duc Falls, Washington

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Sol Duc Falls in June 2016

When I first visited Olympic National Park eight years ago, for some reason I skipped Sol Duc Falls. I visited Marymere FallsMadison FallsBunch Falls, and Merriman Falls, but not Sol Duc. I’m guessing it had to do with the required out-of-the-way drive to view the falls.

So when I decided to hop on a plane with my nephew and fly to Seattle, I figured a visit to Olympic National Park was in order. Even with it raining much of the time during my previous visit, it is still one of my favorite places. And now I would get the chance to visit Sol Duc Falls.

We ended up visiting Sol Duc Falls later in the day. We started by driving up Hurricane Ridge, which I had not done the last time (as it was in April). We then stopped by Madison Falls and Marymere Falls, and we still had some time to visit Sol Duc Falls. Honestly, the drive to the falls might be just as long as the hike to the falls. It’s a 12 mile drive to the falls, and then a 12 mile drive back to US-101. The hike, on the other hand, is only about 3/4 of a mile one-way (approximately). I found the hike to be extremely enjoyable, and you’re rewarded with a pretty awesome waterfall. It was much taller than I expected…Based on the pictures, I thought it was smaller.

Directions:

  1. From US-101, turn onto Sol Duc Hot Springs Road.
  2. Drive 12 miles or so to the parking area for the falls. It’s essentially at the end of the road. (The resort parking is before the falls parking, though you can reach the falls from the resort also.)

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 48′
Hike: 1.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Sol Duc Falls?

Woodburn Falls, Washington

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Woodburn Falls in October 2013

I visited Woodburn Falls over two years, so I had to try and remember where this waterfall was located and how to possibly arrive at the falls. Oddly enough, I did have a pretty clear recollection that the falls was on some spur trail at a park.

If you are in Portland, Oregon, there are many amazing waterfalls near the city. There are also a few waterfalls near Portland on the other side of the Columbia River in Washington. One park in Camas, Lacamas Lake Regional Park, has 3 smaller waterfalls in the park’s boundaries. I posted information about Pothole Falls previously. I honestly found that waterfall (and Lower Falls) by wandering next to Lacamas Creek (which is relatively easy to find). Woodburn Falls isn’t on the main creek, but instead on a different creek. It’s got its own separate side-trail that leads to the falls from the main trail.

I found it to be relatively easy to find. I think there were very clear signs posted that helped find the falls. And while there wasn’t a huge amount of water flowing, it still was actually pretty good for October. Woodburn Falls also happens to be relatively calm and quiet since it’s off on its own. I don’t think there were any other people at the falls when I reached my destination.

Directions:

  1. From I-205, take WA-14 East toward Camas.
  2. Exit WA-14 onto 6th Avenue.  Continue along 6th Avenue.
  3. Turn left onto NE Garfield Street (WA-500). You will veer left, and then turn right right, continuing on WA-500 (now known as NE Everett Street).
  4. There is a parking area on Everett Street, and there is also one just a short distance further up along NE 35th Avenue. The parking area on Everett Street is clearly signed, and ends up being an easier starting point. There is more parking at the 35th Avenue spot, but it is a little more difficult to determine where to begin. The park does have some of the best signs/maps I have seen, so follow the signs if in doubt. This map helps greatly.

Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: ~ 1 mile one-way
Height: 15′

Where in the World is Woodburn Falls?

Whatcom Falls, Washington

If you live near Bellingham, you may have already heard of Whatcom Falls. If you haven’t, or you’re planning on visiting, you should check out Whatcom Falls Park. This very easy to visit waterfall is found just west of the city center, and the park is enjoyable, even if you’re not planning on visiting the waterfall.

After getting to the park, which isn’t extremely difficult, it’s just a short two minute walk to the falls (maybe even less than that). If I remember correctly, it might even be handicapped accessible. It’s that easy! It was sprinkling when I visited (which isn’t really shocking), though it was expected to get windier and stormier as the day progressed. After finding the main waterfall, I went in search of others. There is a rather complex trail system which is well set up. I thought I had read there was a smaller Whatcom Falls, but couldn’t seem to find it along Whatcom Creek. After wandering around for a while, I gave up, since it wasn’t particularly warm on this early-November day (though it was still a great day to see the main falls). After looking at a few other pictures, I don’t remember how easy it would have been to get the creek from the trail, but there may be some great shots with the bridge going over the creek. I didn’t try that option…

Directions:

  1. From Bellingham, head west on Lakeway Drive.
  2. After the intersection of Woburn/Yew Street, the next junction on your left will be Silver Beach Road. Turn left onto Silver Beach Road.
  3. This will lead you into the park. If I remember correctly, there are signs pointing the way to the falls/creek bridge. I remember the parking area being directly opposite a picnic/playground area. (If in doubt, look for the creek and walk adjacent to the creek. The falls are just upstream from the bridge over the creek.)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Whatcom Falls in November 2013

Where in the World is Whatcom Falls?

Upper Wallace Falls, Washington

Upper Wallace Falls in December 2012

I visited Wallace Falls in December 2012, and it had snowed at higher elevations in the previous day. It meant that there was 3-4″ of snow on the ground. The air was very humid, though, and there was a beautifully surreal mist in the air. I was apprehensive about visiting the falls because of the weather conditions, but I found the drive to be better than expected. I still wasn’t sure what the hike was going to be like, though.

The initial portion of the hike to view the multiple falls is rather flat. It then suddenly starts climbing. In normal conditions, it’s probably perfect. In snowy conditions, it’s fine until you keep climbing and climbing. There are three drops to the falls, and they are pretty tall, so the elevation gain is pretty surprising. Arriving at Middle Wallace Falls wasn’t particularly difficult, and many others had completed this portion of the journey. Continuing on to Upper Wallace Falls proved to be more challenging. Not only was the snow deeper, but the trail becomes steeper and rougher.  I was still able to make it without much difficulty, though that portion was far less traversed. Looking back, I remember that my boots were the biggest problem, as they were too tight on my feet and were causing more issues than any snow or trail. I promptly went and bought new shoes after this hike (literally an hour or two later).

I have to admit in the end that I fell in love with Wallace Falls State Park. The snow surrounding the waterfalls just added to the amazing views. The mist created an almost ethereal setting. If you’re in the Seattle area, and are looking for waterfalls Wallace Falls and Snoqualmie Falls are definitely the two best choices.

Directions:

  1. If you’re headed to the area from Seattle, the most difficult part might be getting onto US-2. It’s not terrible, and yet the road system is just complicated enough. One option was a toll bridge, which was quicker, but I didn’t want to deal with that since I was in a rental car. The other option was looping around at one point along I-405 and WA-522. Follow the signs headed toward US-2 West.
  2. Once along US-2 W, keep driving until you enter the town of Gold Bar. Not long after entering the town, there will be a sign indicating the turn to Wallace Falls State Park.
  3. If you’re heading west, you will take a left turn onto 1st Street.
  4. At the four-way stop, turn right onto MacKenzie Street. Head to the end of this road. Near the end, there will be a fork.
  5. Take the left fork headed to the entrance of Wallace Falls State Park.
  6. At the parking area, there is a kiosk where you can pay the $10 entrance fee by credit card.
  7. Start along the trail. The trail is obvious and well maintained, but it does become steeper and more difficult to traverse as you proceed. The hike to the Upper Falls is 2.7 miles one-way.

Accessibility: 3/10 (moderate/strenuous, steep, though nowhere near impossible…more complicated when snow is covering the ground, but still fun)
Height: 240′
Length of Hike: 5.4 miles round-trip (to Upper Falls)

Where in the World is Upper Wallace Falls?

Nooksack Falls, Washington

I visited the Seattle region this past weekend, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect weather-wise. Rain would be predicted in the region, and it did rain. It was also predicted that there would be snow at higher elevations as the day progressed. This made me a little bit concerned. Being from Michigan, I’m no stranger to snow, but I also don’t enjoy driving in it! I decided, though, that I was going to head in the direction of Nooksack Falls, and hope that there wasn’t any snow in my way.

My worries weren’t really founded (though I still think you should pay attention to the weather, and turn back if you do think think it’s too dangerous). The whole drive the falls was wet, but by no means snowy. One book reports the elevation of Nooksack Falls at 2500′, but it is closer to 1600′. The book also suggests the height is something around 180′, where as it’s about 100′ shorter at 88′. While I’m not sure I’d trust the numbers, the directions worked. The falls weren’t at their peak flow, but they were still enjoyable.

Because people are royally stupid, and can’t seem to figure out that it’s extremely dangerous to try and find a path down to the base of the falls, there is a fence. Even with the stupidity, this is a good idea. While the fence might seem to create a difficulty in taking photographs, it’s really that the falls are at an odd angle from the viewpoint, and I don’t think you can avoid that, even if the fence weren’t there. While the photo I’ve included here isn’t my favorite, it’s the one that actually reveals that there are many parts to the falls. There even seems to be a “cave” where the river has eroded away rock. This is difficult to notice, and took me a few minutes to figure out there was this other part to the falls.

Directions:

  1. Nooksack Falls is relatively easy to find. Head east on WA-542 (which can be found near Bellingham).
  2. Pass through the village of Glacier, and go about 7 miles further.
  3. On the right, you will find Forest Road 33. A sign for Nooksack Falls makes it nearly impossible to miss the turn. Turn right.
  4. Go down the unpaved, but manageable, road until you cross a one-way bridge. There will be a circular parking area to your left shortly after this. Park there. It’s at most 0.5 miles from WA-542.
  5. From the parking area, head toward the sign for the falls. It’s a very short hike, though if it’s raining, the rocks could be slippery.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 88′
Length of Hike: 0.1 miles round-trip

Nooksack Falls in early November 2013

Where in the World is Nooksack Falls?