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One Of Washington’s Most Popular Parks: Wallace Falls State Park

One Of Washington’s Most Popular Parks: Wallace Falls State Park

Photo Compliments of Andrew Larsen

Photo Compliments of Andrew Larsen

Wallace Falls State Park is a 4,735-acre camping park along the shores of the Wallace River, Wallace Lake, Jay Lake, Shaw Lake and the Skykomish River.  The park features a 265-foot waterfall, old-growth coniferous forests, and fast-moving rivers and streams.  The hike from the campground to the upper falls is one of the most popular Washington hikes.  This is a spectacular park and it is a short driving distance from Seattle.

Quick Facts

  • Roundtrip 5.5 miles from the trailhead to the upper falls
  • Elevation gain is 1200 ft (hike is rated as easy)
  • Highest point 1500 ft

This is a family friendly hike and is quite crowed after 10 or 11 in the morning, or on weekends during the summer.  If you want a parking spot it is best to not be at the trailhead any later than 8 or 9 in the morning.

Background Information On the Hike To Wallace Falls

The hike will provide views of a series of falls, nine in all, two that are stunning and one-the tallest at 265 feet-that’s absolutely spectacular.  The trailhead has a very good map of the park and signage along the trail is excellent.  As a bonus this park has one of the better bathrooms in any of the Washington State parks.

After a 0.25 mile walk from the trailhead you will enter a uniform forest of young hemlocks. The Wallace River becomes audible and its presence felt in the cool breezes funneling down the valley.  At 0.4 mile you will come to a junction.   Left heads to the falls on an old logging rail-road grade. The easy grade attracts runners and mountain bikers.  It also makes for a nice loop option; it will add about a mile to your total distance and is better done on the return.  You will head right on the Woody Trail (the trail is very well marked, you can ask if you feel uneasy as to where you are on the trail, or you can carry a map of the trail which is easily obtainable).   You are now under colonnades of moss-shrouded trees and accompanied by showy boughs of dark green ferns that seem to burst from the ground…continue on beside the roiling river.

The main trail will pull away from the river now and will begin to climb. If you are not in shape slow down, you will make it if you set a pace that is comfortable for you.   At a little over a mile, a short side trail veers steeply left to connect with the Railroad Grade Trail. Continue straight, remaining high above the raucous river.  At 1.4 miles you will come to a junction.  The left path heads to the Railroad Grade Trail (your return option if you like) and also to Wallace Lake via the Greg Ball Trail.  You will need to precede straight, dropping down to cross the North Fork of the Wallace River; you will then begin a short and steep climb to the Lower Falls viewpoint and picnic shelter.   This is a real pretty sight, but what will catch your attention is the much bigger falls off in the distance; continue up the trail.  At about 2.2 miles you will reach the viewpoint for the Middle Falls. At 265 feet, this falls is the park’s highest, and the one you can see from US 2.  From the overlook you will stare right into the heart of the tumultuous falls roaring through a narrow channel.  The Upper Falls is another 0.5 mile beyond. It is not quite as impressive, but it’s still n worth the 500-foot climb to get there.  En route be sure to stop at the overlook above the Middle Falls for a sweeping view of the Skykomish River valley and the Olympic Mountains (you will want to take picutres).  Again the hike to the top and back down is about 5.5 miles.   An easy hike would be less than 2,000 feet of elevation and this has 1,200 feet of elevation.

Wallace Falls State Park Information

Directions

From Everett follow US 2 for 28 miles east to the hamlet of Gold Bar. Just before milepost 28, turn left onto 1st Street (follow the signs for Wallace Falls State Park).  Proceed for 0.4 mile to a four-way stop. Turn right onto May Creek Road and continue for 1.5 miles to Wallace Falls State Park and the trailhead.  Click map for directions you can print.  Click Mapquest  for directions.

Park Hours

Summer: 8 a.m. to dusk.

Winter: 8 a.m. to dusk

Wallace Falls State Park information

Camping Information

Check-in time, 2:30 p.m.

Quiet hours, 10 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

Camping Information Site

Discover Pass

A Discover Pass is required for motor-vehicle access to state parks and recreation lands managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

Annual pass: $30

One-day pass: $10

Discover Pass

Trip Note

The Sulton Bakery is the place you stop to get copy on the way to the park and on the way back it is a wonderful stop for either lunch or supper.  If you read the reviews you will see what I mean.

Directions

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2 Comments

  1. Wishing you good health and nice hikes in 2014, Charlie. Have a very happy one!

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