Best Hikes to see Waterfalls

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Twin Falls

Twin Falls State Park
Near North Bend

Twin Falls
Difficulty:
Moderate; 3 miles round-trip, 500-foot elevation gain 
Location: About 30 miles east of Seattle via Interstate 90. Nearest town: North Bend, 7 miles. Discover Pass required; wta.org 

For a nearby hike that feels a world away, scoot east to Twin Falls near North Bend and take a sweet summer ramble along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. You’ll skirt the banks for a half-mile or so, past a couple of excellent wading spots, then head up a few switchbacks to get your first glimpse of the lower (and more spectacular) of the twin falls. Continue along this well-traveled trail to about the one-mile mark, until you reach an unmarked spur trail heading down wooden steps to your right; this leads to a sturdy little lookout platform with a striking view of the 150-foot falls. From this snug perch, jutting out over the pool far below, nibble chocolate and muse awhile about the awesome power of pounding water. Then head back out on the trail another half-mile, tag the bridge that spans the river and turn around for the easy hike out.

 

Franklin Falls
Near North Bend

Franklin Falls
Difficulty:
Easy; 2 miles round-trip, 400-foot gain 
Location: About 45 minutes east of Seattle via Interstate 90. Nearest town: North Bend, 20 miles. Northwest Forest Pass required; dogs prohibited; wta.org

Just an easy mile through the mossy woods and suddenly, you’re standing at the base of a roaring 70-foot-tall giant, soaking up spray and reveling in the fact that two hours earlier, you were in the city. Don some waterproof shoes and take this refreshing little jaunt along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River; it can be just the thing for those seeking a not-too-subtle reminder of our region's natural beauty. The route is easy—and extremely kid-friendly—but take it slow the last 100 yards or so, which descend steeply to the base of the falls. Linger and enjoy the view, but be sure to stay well back from the falls; the surface is slippery, and rocks are sometimes carried over the falls to plummet into the pool below.

 

Silver Falls
Mount Rainier

Silver Falls
Difficulty:
Moderate; 3-mile loop, 300-foot elevation gain 
Location: About one hour and 40 minutes from Seattle, in Mount Rainier National Park, leaving from the Ohanapecosh Campground. Nearest town: Packwood, 14 miles. Dogs prohibited; nps.gov

One glimpse of this gorgeous, glacier-fed waterfall more than makes up for the drive to reach this, one of the most well-loved trails in the park. Meander past hot springs, where a health resort stood from the 1920s to 1960 (clothing optional!), then climb; at one and a half miles, you get your first glimpse of the mighty Ohanapecosh, thundering over falls into the narrow, rocky canyon below. Stand on the bridge and gawk, then continue up the trail for an ever-closer look at the top, and several picnic-worthy overlooks. Pick up the back half of the loop that runs along the west side of the Ohanapecosh River, through the moss-covered old growth for an easy hike out.

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

Dig Deep Into Wine at the Northwest Wine Encounter

An intimate affair for wine lovers who get their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude
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A flight of wine awaiting tasting at one of the educational panels

If you love good wine—really good wine—you’ll want to put Northwest Wine Encounter on your radar.

Haven’t heard of it before? That’s not surprising. The inaugural event, which I attended last spring, was an intimate affair with space for just a few dozen wine lovers who got their geek on over things like the impact of soil, weather, terroir and altitude on winemaking, learning about these during educational panels led by some of the region’s finest winemakers. And, of course, it helped to taste through flights of really fine wine as the winemakers offered insights and perspective.

The return engagement, on the weekend of April 28-30 (from $485/person including lodging, events and gala dinner), will follow a similar format and will once again be held at Semiahmoo Resort, a lovely spot overlooking Semiahmoo Bay, with the U.S./Canadian border and Peace Arch in view across the water. This year, there will be room for around 100 wine lovers (sign up for Northwest Wine Encounter here).


Winemakers and guests enjoying Friday night’s bonfire at Semiahmoo 

This quintessential Northwest location was chosen to complement the local wines that are the focus of the weekend. At Semiahmoo, Mount Baker frames the view in one direction, the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound in another. At one time in its history, Semiahmoo was also the site of a salmon cannery. Hard to get more Northwest than that.

The 2017 winemaker lineup includes a few superstars from Oregon and Washington: Chris Figgins of Leonetti Cellars, Walla Walla’s oldest winery; David Merfeld of Northstar Winery, Chris Upchurch of DeLille Cellars; Tony Rynders of Panther Creek and wine grower Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyards. New this year is the addition of a British Columbia winemaker, Walter Gehriner of Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery.

 

At last year’s events, the panel discussions were interesting, but the Friday night kick-off event was almost worth the price of admission alone. It had the air of an informal party where everyone was enjoying each other’s company. All the winemakers were in attendance, pouring and chatting about what they love most: making wine. The party eventually spilled out onto the beach where a bonfire warmed the crowd. Marshmallows optional, wine required.