If you are on the hunt for a beautiful, easy-to-reach hike, look no further than Wallace Falls State Park. The 5.6-mile round-trip trek up the park’s Woody Trail is sure to satisfy any cravings you might have for the Pacific Northwest’s standard set of eye candy (think sword ferns, mosses, and evergreens). And then, it will serve you up three delicious cherries on top: the gushing cascades that are the Lower, Middle, and Upper Wallace Falls. It is only an hour’s drive from Seattle and hike-able year round (thanks to its lower elevation, it doesn’t get as much snow fall as other well-liked hikes). In other words, it is easy to understand why this is one of the most popular outdoor excursions in Washington State.
What Makes It Great
The first portion of the trail leads you under buzzing power lines, but don’t worry, you will quickly leave all industrial structures behind. After ducking beneath a canopy of hemlocks and Douglas firs you’ll come to a fork in the road, about half a mile from the trailhead. The left path takes you on the Old Railroad Grade: a fun ride for mountain bikers but, if you want to trek to the falls, stay on the hikers-only Woody Trail to the right. Soon after, you will arrive at the bank of the Wallace River. For the next stretch you’ll be accompanied by the river’s babbling as you continue along it and cross bridges over its small tributaries.
Then, the trail veers away from the river as it moves up towards the falls. The lower falls, which drop down 212 feet over five tiers, are two miles from the trailhead. But don’t turn around here: the middle falls are only half a mile further, and are the scenic highlight of the whole trail. The waterfall bursts down into a craggy bowl below, with ethereal mist licking up along its sides. Looking the other direction on a clear day, views of the Olympic Mountains define the skyline.
Many people decide to turn around here, but if you still have some energy left in you continue on up the switchbacks – the steepest part of the trail – to the Upper Falls. 2.8 miles from the trailhead, the Upper Falls officially conclude the Woody Trail. And if you’re looking for even more, you can always continue on the Upper Grade Trail to Wallace Lake.
Who is Going to Love It
Because the trail is moderate, relatively level, and well maintained, Wallace Falls is a great option for greenhorn hikers or more experienced ones who want to share the experience with family and friends. It is also a great choice for anyone who wants to bring his or her dog along.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The park is located at 14503 Wallace Falls Roadin Gold Bar, WA.
In the summer, the parking lot usually fills by 11 a.m. The trailhead accessed from the parking lot, right between the restroom and information kiosk.