Washington

Hit the Trail on These 12 Epic Waterfall Hikes in Washington

by Carissa Stanz

best waterfall hikes washington
Photo: John Westrock

Washington may have its fair share of drizzly weather, but continuous precip paired with prodigious peaks surmounts to one spectacular geological formation, waterfalls.

With over 2,000 waterfalls scattered throughout the state, Washington is certainly not falling short. That means wherever adventure takes you in the Evergreen State, there’s sure to be a waterfall hike nearby.

Whether you’re in the mood for a sightseeing saunter or a longer trek that makes you earn your grand views, Washington has a waterfall hike in store for everyone.

Head out to the Olympic Peninsula and you’ll find a handful of waterfalls waiting at the end of a short, leisurely stroll through the forest. Visit Mount Rainier National Park and you’ll find a glacier-filled wonderland with more than 150 plummeting falls. Follow the call of the wild up to the North Cascades, and you’ll find a collection of falls that may reshape your definition of waterfalls.

With so many waterfall hikes to choose from, it’s tough to decide where to start. That’s why we went ahead and narrowed down the top waterfall hikes in Washington, so you can pick a guaranteed jaw-dropper and start chasing waterfalls today.

Grab your poncho — things are about to get misty.

Palouse Falls

palouse falls
Photo: John Westrock

Why you should go: The official waterfall of Washington state.

  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 206 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

No Washington waterfall journey would be complete without a trip to the iconic Palouse Falls. In 2014, Palouse Falls was dubbed the official waterfall of Washington state — and for good reason.

Located in eastern Washington, this powerful 198-foot waterfall formed 13,000 years ago during one of the last Ice Age floods. Surrounded by basalt cliffs, you’ll find the geology as intriguing as the falls themselves.

Follow the short loop and you’ll encounter three scenic viewpoints. Be careful, though — the cliffs are steep and unfenced. If you’re hiking with kids or dogs, keep them close by.

Palouse is sure to draw a crowd and has limited parking, so arrive early.

More Information: Palouse Falls State Park

Myrtle Falls

myrtle falls
Photo: Navin Rajagopalan

Why you should go: Incredible landscape photo op with Mount Rainier in the background.

  • Distance: 0.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 150 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

You’ll find the 72-foot Myrtle Falls in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park. While it may not be the tallest waterfall in Washington, the presence of Mount Rainier towering in the background makes this one of the most picturesque falls in the state.

Grab your camera and take in the breathtaking landscape along the well-groomed trail. When you reach the falls you’re likely to encounter another photographer (or two) so wait patiently. Although this is a well-trafficked trail, the view is truly an alpine lover’s Paradise.

More Information: Visit Rainier

Comet Falls

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Why you should go: Chance to see wildlife before reaching one of the tallest waterfalls in Mount Rainier National Park.

  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 900 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you need to stretch your legs beyond Myrtle Falls, check another Rainier waterfall of your bucket list and make the trek to Comet Falls. Comet Falls is one of the highest waterfalls at Rainer, clocking in at over 300 feet tall.

The trail to Comet Falls ascends steadily until you reach your destination, and you’ll be accompanied by a roaring creek for much of the journey.

On the way, keep a lookout for marmots as they’re common around here. With sharp eyes, you may even catch a glimpse of a pika or mountain goat. Should it be the latter, steer clear and give them plenty of space because these guys have been known to get aggressive.

More Information: National Parks Service

Marymere Falls

marymere falls
Photo: Gary Brownell

Why should go: An easy stroll through lush old-growth forest with creek crossings.

  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 298 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you happen to find yourself cruising along Highway-101 through the Olympic Peninsula, be sure to stop at Marymere Falls. This family-friendly out-and-back hike will give you a mere glimpse into what Washington’s diverse ecosystems have in store.

You’ll meander through the moss- and fern-covered forest floor with towering old-growth trees, crossing over a few bridges before you reach your destination. You can gaze up at the fall from the final bridge below or continue up the short but steep loop.

To extend your hike, retrace your steps a bit and make the ascent up Storm King Trail for an aerial view of Lake Crescent below. If you have time, we highly recommend making a day of it and renting a kayak or paddleboard to explore the lake.

More Information: Olympic Hiking Co.

Sol Duc Falls

sol duc falls
Photo: Kelen Loewen

Why you should go: One of Washington’s most photogenic falls tucked away in the temperate rain forest.

  • Distance: 1.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Sol Duc Falls is one of many not to be missed along the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. Located in the Olympic Park, this hike is nothing short of amazing.

Surrounded by dense forest filled with fir, cedar, and hemlock trees, you’ll marvel at the old-growth woods before reaching the roaring falls. With viewpoints located both upstream and downstream, you’ll be able to grasp the full magnitude of this torrential rocky wonder. Thanks to a well-groomed and maintained trail, this easy hike is suitable for all ages and skill levels.

More Information: Olympic National Parks and Forests

Bridal Veil

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Why you should go: An impressively tall waterfall cascading down several tiers of granite rock.

  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

From Utah to North Carolina, it seems no matter what state you’re in there’s a waterfall named Bridal Veil. This one stands out from the crowd, though, with wispy falls raining down over 1,000 feet of granite rock face and several tiers.

The hike out to Bridal Veil Falls can be a little slippery as several streams have been known to wash over the trail, so watch your step. You’ll encounter a brief stairway on your final ascent, then you can cool off at the base of the falls in the waterfall’s refreshing mist.

Take note, this is a popular hike so expect a crowd in the summer.

More Information: Washington Trails Association

Snoqualmie Falls

snoqualmie falls

Why you should go: A family- and dog-friendly interpretive trail winding through lush forest to a photogenic waterfall.

  • Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 250 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

By far one of the most popular Washington waterfalls, Snoqualmie falls is a sight to behold. This family- and dog-friendly hike is filled with as many plants as it is history. For those who like getting schooled, this hike features an interpretive nature trail that identifies local fauna and flora, with a history lesson mixed in at the end.

Majestic and fierce, Snoqualmie Falls is best enjoyed from the appointed viewing areas. Watch as it powerfully, yet elegantly, spits out gushing water down a spectacular 268-foot drop.

More Information: Washington Trails Association

Wallace Falls

wallace falls
Photo: Martin Bravenboer

Why you should go: A moderate yet serene day hike through the forest with scenic mountain views and a misty reward at the end.

  • Distance: 5.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you’re looking for tranquility, you’ll find it here at Wallace Falls. Follow the trail as it winds along the Wallace River through regional flora and fauna with some mountain views of Index and Baring mixed in.

Be prepared to work up a sweat because you’ll be gaining a solid 1,300 feet in elevation. However, the well-maintained trail and signage make the journey an easier one thanks to the WTA (Washington Trails Association) and their hard-working volunteers.

When you reach the Lower Falls, bask in the serenity. From there you can follow the 2.8 miles of steep switchbacks to the Upper Falls or awe at the nine cascading cataracts from below.

More Information: Washington Trails Association

Twin Falls

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Why you should go: Easily accessible falls offering a breath of fresh air from city life.

  • Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you find yourself stuck inside the hustle and bustle of Seattle, break away from the city with a trip to Twin Falls. Located at Olallie State Park about 45 minutes outside of the city, this waterfall hike is a much-welcomed breath of fresh air.

Snaking along the Snoqualmie River, you’ll find the hike out to Twin Falls is both refreshing and invigorating. You’ll climb steadily along the way until you reach The Benches. Here, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the Lower Falls, and rather large gusts from the falls while you’re at it. Continue on to the Upper Falls for an impressive, unobstructed view.

More Information: Olallie State Park

Spirit Falls

spirit falls washington
Photo: Jay Huang

Why you should go: An adventurous unmaintained trail to a dreamlike waterfall cascading down into a crystal blue pool.

  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Difficulty: Hard

Get ready to scramble for this waterfall. While the hike out to Spirit Falls along the Columbia River Gorge is short, the unmarked, unmaintained trail is steep and slippery.

If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning waterfall cascading down into a pool of icy, turquoise water. Don’t be surprised if you catch sight of a bold kayaker braving the fall as Spirit Falls is a popular paddling spot.

More Information: AllTrails

Falls Creek Falls

falls creek falls
Photo: Dan Hagberg

Why you should go: An invigorating trek through the evergreens to a stunning 335-foot waterfall.

  • Distance: 5.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,080
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you’re looking to make a day of chasing waterfalls, head on out to Falls Creek Falls. Tucked away in the Gifford National Forest, this spectacular 335-foot waterfall was the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.

You’ll meander along the creek for a ways until becoming fully engrossed the pure beauty of Washington’s evergreens. The trail continuously gains in elevation, but nothing the novice hiker couldn’t handle. In the end, you’re sure to reap the reward as the waterfall carves out a peaceful path through the lush greenery.

More Information: AllTrails

Murhut Falls

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Why you should go: A lightly-trafficked trail offering a tranquil stroll through the Olympic Forest. 

  • Distance: 1.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 250 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Skip the crowds and head on out to the serene Murhut Falls. Situated in the Olympic National Forest, this Washington waterfall hike is less populated than many of the others but just as rewarding.

Here you’ll find a former logging road the takes you through second- and old-growth forests. As you make your way, listen for the sound of rushing water and you’ll know you’re close.

When you’re close to the falls, the trail narrows so be mindful of your step. We recommend crossing this fall off your list in late spring so you can catch colorful bursts of the surrounding Rhododendrons in full bloom.

More Information: USDA Forest Service

For more waterfall adventures, take a look at the 15 Hikes to Utah’s Most Refreshing Waterfalls, 15+ Must-See Columbia Gorge Waterfalls, and Colorado’s Best Waterfall Hikes.

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