We set out on a road trip after landing in Seattle to drive the Cascade Loop. Our first stop on the first day was Wallace Falls State Park in Snohomish County, Washington near a small town called Gold Bar.
Arriving on a Tuesday morning in mid July before the park officially open, we set out following Wallace Falls Trail. The park was not crowded, of course, as it was only a little after seven in the morning. We were still on east coast time, so it felt like it was getting late in the day to us.
At the parking lot, you’ll find a well-kept restroom, a park map and trash canisters. You will need a Discover Pass to do this trail. These are $10 for a day and available at the entrance to the park or online prior to your visit. We got ours online and therefore could go into the park and start hiking prior to the visitor booth being open.
You start the trail down a long meadow-like opening along power lines. The first sight of the Cascades lets you see some key peaks. It is nice, but the power lines make a good picture impossible. Right after this, you start heading slightly uphill to the start of the trail which brings you through a maze-type gate to keep people from bring vehicles onto it. This is a foot trail only.
Climbing steadily along the Wallace River, the scenery is beautiful with dense forests, rocky banks, and rushing water at every turn. It is divided into three sections—the lower falls, the middle falls and the upper falls. By the time you get to the upper falls, you’ll climb about 1400 feet in elevation over about 4 1/2 miles. It is considered a “moderate” trail.
The lower falls lookout area is quite nice and gives you a great view of all three falls looking up the mountain.
Between the lower falls and the middle falls, you will encounter a section of quite a few switchbacks. But when you get to the middle falls look out area, you’ll be greeted with not only a gushing, powerful waterfall, but also a nice view of the lush green landscape capped by the far away mountains.
The hike between the middle falls and the upper falls is steep, but not very long. The upper falls is just that—the top part of the waterfall. You’ll find some large rocks to take a brief rest before heading back down.
Our take: This was a wonderful hike with moments of interest at every step of the trail. From lush ferns and mosses, to large spiders, and slugs and from rocky steps to amazing, gushing waterfalls. We loved every bit of this one. Allow about 4-5 hours total if you slow to take pictures and investigate nature like we do. We also found our new hiking poles very helpful on this one due to its rocky climb.
This trail is not suited for small children or small dogs prone to breathing problems, especially in the summer. It can also be hard on the knees for people who have known issues.
If you are short on time, consider going only as far as the middle falls. You’ll have seen the best parts of the falls, have had a great hike in, and saved yourself an hour or so.