Friday, May 13, 2016

Waterfall Hikes in the Pacific Northwest

With rugged mountains and plenty of rain, here in the Pacific Northwest we're blessed with an abundance of scenic waterfalls. After all, the primary mountains that bisect the region north-south are the Cascades.

I've blogged about many waterfall hikes here at Pacific Northwest Seasons over the last 7+ years but never a compilation, so this is a quick run-down with links to more detailed descriptions.

Despite living here my whole life (except a few years in my early 20s), I've not hiked or seen it all by a long shot. Consider this a peek at what the region has to offer.

How lucky was I to grow up less than a 30-minute drive west from the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area?  It's waterfall grand central in the region.

Lower Multnomah Fall

In this 60-mile stretch of spectacular cliffs and plunging waterfalls, the Columbia River slices east-west across the Cascades. The river's cut through the mountains was aided by the massive megafloods from glacial Lake Missoula that scoured the Columbia basin multiple times during the last ice age.

There are many relatively short and easy hikes to gorgeous Gorge waterfalls. On the historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, some of my favorites  are Latourell Falls (pictured above), Wahkeena Falls-Multnomah Falls, Angel's Rest (pass a waterfall along the way up), Wahclella Falls (short and sweet), and the classic Eagle Creek to the Punchbowl (go farther upstream if you've got time).

Wahclella Falls

Hiking the Gorge waterfalls always makes me feel serene and refreshed.
Of course there are too many gorgeous waterfalls in Oregon to name or count. No pics because it has been too long since I was at Silver Falls, but this state park east of Salem in the Willamette Valley is an epic place to see waterfalls.

Dropping down into central Oregon near Bend, try to catch the Green Lakes Trail early in the season while the snowmelt down Fall Creek is peaking (fairly soon).

Fall Creek, Green Lakes Trail
Maybe you pause to admire a small waterfall on the road up to Silver Star Mountain trailhead in southern Washington or hike past waterfalls on the Denny Creek-Lake Melakwa trail just below Snoqualmie Pass.

Trail to Lake Melakwa
While you can drive past splendid waterfalls in Mt. Rainier National Park on the way to Paradise, one of western Washington's most popular  waterfall hikes (for good reason) is Wallace Falls northeast of Seattle. This trail passes multiple waterfalls, with nice viewing areas along the way.

Wallace Falls
Farther east up Highway 2 from Everett on the Lake Serene Trail is Bridal Veil Falls, which, if you happen to catch after a heavy rain, is a spectacular raging torrent of water.

Bridal Veil Falls

Over on the western edge of the Olympic Mountains, breathtaking Sol Duc Falls is just a mile hike up from the same-named campground in Olympic National Park. Over there the rain is almost triple what we get in Seattle. Steep mountains + snowmelt + lots of rain = incredible waterfalls. 

Photo by Steve Nelson
 In far eastern Washington, Palouse Falls is a magnificent waterfall on the dry side. On my bucket list. Have you been?

These waterfalls are all easily accessible, well known, and mostly on the west side of the Cascades. Farther off the beaten path are countless more.

What are you favorite waterfall hikes? I'd love to hear below!

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news. 



JoJo said...

Merriman Falls is a few miles down the road from Lake Quinault Lodge. That was always a fave to see.

jill said...

Hi JoJo! Thanks for jumping in. You know, I've actually never seen Merriman Falls even though I've been to Lake Quinault a couple times in the last few years. Will have to check it out next time I'm there.

Ron Mitchell said...

Jill, I find it difficult to comment on your posts. Too many technical hoops for such a simpleton like me! This waterfall hike is yet another one that brings me right there, stimulating all of the senses. Thanks for bringing us readers along,

Suezy Proctor said...

One of my favorite falls is in Eastern Washington; Dry Falls, south of Lake Roosevelt, a reservoir formed by Grand Coulee Dam. The last 6 generators of the dam began operating in 1975 -1980. Until construction was completed, water was often diverted and released, and flowed over Dry Falls. Once they cut the water off for good, it was fun to hike in the area for Indian artifacts, agates and other rocks ideal for collecting. My mother was a rock hound. Besides the grandeur of the scenery, birdlife is abundant, fishing is excellent, hiking the falls and Sun Lakes area is amazing. Not the cascading waterfalls in your collection…but I remember seeing them when they would put any waterfall to shame.

jill said...

Hi Ron! Gosh, sorry it seems complicated for you to leave a comment. Don't you just select Comment, type it, and then select what kind of User you are? Anyway, thanks for sticking with it and leaving this comment. Ha, I sort of felt like this blog post was a bit lame, just providing links to other posts. But I appreciate your feedback. :)

Suezy, so cool you got to see Dry Falls when water was running over it. I've only seen it from the air on a flight to/from Spokane. And how you have a whole new part of the world to explore! Thanks for your comment!

Anne said...

Oneonta Falls which I admit is a short hike with a short swim unless you want to do a tiny rock climb, I've done both, and on one of the super hot Oregon summer days this is most refreshing and exquisitely beautiful.