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.

Road Trip: Concrete and East Skagit County

Road Trip: Concrete and East Skagit County

Enjoy a scenic drive and stay out in eagle country
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View the eagles during the Skagit Eagle Festival; snap a pic and enter it by January 15 in the Skagit River Bald Eagle Center’s 20th anniversary photo contest. Go win it!

WHERE: Concrete and east Skagit County.

WHY: Eagles are flocking to their spectacular winter getaway—why not join them? The Skagit Eagle Festival (1/1–1/31; concrete-wa.com) happens every January weekend, and your car makes a perfect blind for snapping pictures without scaring off these magnificent birds. Celebrate along the Skagit River with arts and crafts, wine tasting, photography tours and river rafting for eagle spotters.

NIGHT OWLS: Check out the Concrete Theatre, built in 1923 (45920 Main St.; 360.941.0403; concrete-theatre.com), updated for films, live music and events during the festival. early birds: Stop by 5b’s Bakery (45597 Main St.; 360.853.8700; 5bsbakery.com) for quality gluten-free baked goods and more for breakfast or lunch. For dinner, there’s Annie’s Pizza Station (44568 State Route 20; 360.853.7227; anniespizzastation.net), whose handcrafted cuisine would be a hit even in a town bigger than Concrete, population 753.

RULE THE ROOST: Spend the night in one of Ovenell’s Heritage Inn log cabins, located on a historic ranch across the river (46276 Concrete Sauk Valley Road; 360.853.8494; ovenells-inn.com). Pick up a steak or two—the cows are raised right there on the ranch—and throw them on the provided barbecue. Had enough of eagles? Elk, deer and coyotes are known to roam the ranch on a daily basis.