Having grown up spending tons of time outdoors, there’s times I get outdoor deja vu. Before hiking Twin Falls, I thought I had never been there, but after seeing it?
I guess it will forever be a mystery. However, given the proximity to Seattle and so many other outdoor options, it is very likely I had been there as a child. However, falls can change so much depending on time of year and snowpack, so they felt new enough even if I haven’t been there!
I got one of the last parking spots at Olallie State Park. This day-use park has hiking and biking trails, by far the most popular being the ~2.5 mile round-trip trek to Twin Falls. There’s a few options to lengthen or shorten your trip as you approach the falls, making this hike great for little ones. Today, this was a group hike led by my friend Jennie from Ordinary Adventures. We set off after meeting the the crowded parking lot.
After a detailed trailhead sign and kiosk for purchasing parking permits, the trail begins. It starts off fairly flat, next to the south fork of the Snoqualmie River. On a crisp fall morning, watching the sun begin to hit the river was a beautiful sight, even if we were all wanting the sun’s rays to hit us. It was a very peaceful river, but I can imagine come warmer times people go wading or let their dogs take a dip here plenty. For now, it was brisk and the water was moving fairly swiftly. I started getting to know my companions, most of whom only knew Jennie and not each other, chatting easily along the flat trail. This flat stretch along the river continues for about a half-mile.
Despite only posting 500 feet of gain, that gain is in the form of rolling hills you switchback up and down, several times, like a camel’s hump. Once you crest this section of hills though, you get your first view from afar of the lower falls, complete with benches. This spot is great as if with tired little ones, you can turn around here without feeling too badly that you missed out by cutting things short. If you do continue, down the camel hump you will go, back close to the river. There is a Big Tree here (in my book, smaller than redwoods, smaller than the Big Tree on the Malachite trail, but still by all intents, Big) to boost your spirits before you begin climbing hump #2.
Slightly past the mile mark, you reach a fork to choose which falls to see first. To see the (in my opinion, more impressive) lower falls, you must descend a set of stairs (104 of them, according to WTA) to reach a landing platform. While stairs are never fun, especially if the trail is crowded, I highly recommend the spur for the lower falls. Some say there is a dragon hiding in the rocks at the bottom, guarding the falls. I was struck in how despite the close location to civilization, the water was crystal-clear. The landing platforms for viewing the falls are cozy, encouraging people to not dawdle here to let other folks have a turn as well.
We climbed the stairs back to the trail to the upper falls. It isn’t much further until you reach a large bridge spanning the river. The bridge actually has you facing one small waterfall while suspended above another small fall, meaning Twin Falls should really be called Triplet Falls! The bridge is nice and wide, which is good due to all of the people stopping to view the falls. While I’m sure bridges and platforms have been rebuilt in the last 20 years (there’s been several trail-ruining floods), the upper and lower falls were just familiar enough for me to wonder if I have ever been there. Regardless, I’m sure I’ll be back for this short and sweet hike, which is a great one to show out-of-towners the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
Distance: 2.6 miles RT according to WTA (my Runkeeper said 2.4)
Elevation: 500 feet of gain (639 according to my Runkeeper)
Parking: Discover Pass required, there is a kiosk at the parking lot to purchase a day-use pass.
Bathrooms: Pit toilets in parking lot
Best Beer Bet: No Boat or Snoqualmie Falls Brewing are right along your way home.