Everything is slick with moisture, from spongy green moss, shiny leaves, and muddy trail. Streams we cross are swollen with runoff. Little waterfalls and streams course downhill, criss-crossing the trail and causing us to jump carefully from rock to rock, not always keeping our feet dry.
There's a reason our mountains are called the Cascades.
Surprisingly, while I've been to Bridal Veil Falls in the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland and Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite Valley, this is my first trip here, in my home state. I used to bypass the foothills hikes, seeking the thrill of higher elevations and sweeping, panoramic views. But in recent years I mix it up.
With a heavy rain yesterday and another storm heading our way, the number of hikers venturing out is less than normal on a weekend day. We easily snag a space in the usually full parking lot at the trailhead and head up through the lush mossy forest.
For the first mile or so, the trail is pretty mellow through second-growth forest, and then it takes a decidedly steeper turn.
Thankfully stairs have been added in this especially wet (today) section of trail. Some places we have to step outside the stairs, though, because they've become big puddles.
And then there are those multiple little streams flowing over the trail, literally keeping us on our toes with each step.
By the time we reach the Bridal Veil Falls cutoff, with 1/2 mile to the waterfalls viewpoint, a damp mist is beginning to pervade the forest.
After scrambling up the final steps to the viewpoint, I turn around to my hiking buddies and say WOW! Bridal Veil Falls (at least the small portion of 1,000-foot-+ waterfalls we can see from the trail) is raging.
As the torrent of water tumbles down, heavy mist roils upward as if from a steaming cauldron. To avoid getting really wet, I zip up my water repellent jacket and hood.
Because we're hiking with intentional silence today, we go off the trail into the woods near the waterfalls and throw down sit pads (to avoid a wet bum). Then we sit for about 10 minutes and listen to the water pummeling the rocks.
On our way down, the mist seems to be increasing lower down the trail. Personally, I think it makes the hike even more lovely.
On the last half mile or so, I slow down and take in the beautiful misty, mossy forest. I always find it nourishing to be out here. I hope you do, too.
When You Go
Depending on traffic, it's about a 90-minute drive to the trailhead from Seattle, a little over 21 miles east of Monroe off Highway 2 on the Mt. Index Road (just before the bridge over the Skykomish River). We gained about 1,000 feet in elevation and hiked about 4 miles roundtrip to the waterfalls and back, with the last .5 mile to the falls mostly up steps and boardwalks. This hike is low enough that much of it is hikeable year-round, although beware ice on the trail during the winter. Don't forget to put your Northwest Forest Pass on the dashboard of your rig while parked in the lot.