Our quick day hike from Seattle to Franklin Falls at Snoqualmie Pass: An easy hike with beautiful forest and a gorgeous waterfall.
A little Google searching on Washington waterfall hikes brought me to discover Franklin Falls, a picturesque waterfall at Snoqualmie Pass just an hour outside of Seattle. An easy 2 mile round trip out-and-back hike, it sounded perfect for a quick day trip.
We read that this trail is very popular, and that we should get there early to get a parking spot. We purchased a Northwest Forest day pass online (you can purchase and print at home now!) and left Seattle at about 8:00 AM. Day passes or annual forest passes are required to park at the trail head, and are $5.00 for the day or $30.00 for a year.
It was a beautiful August morning and we made good time with no traffic. The trail is off I-90 exit 47 just past Denny Creek Campground. When we arrived, the parking area was already filling up, but we got a spot. The parking lot is for Franklin Falls as well as Melaka Lake— a more difficult 8.5 mile hike.
There weren’t a lot of people on the trail when we started, which was nice. The trail is very well maintained and follows the Snoqualmie River for a ways, gradually ascending through the forest.
The trail has many log-bordered steps built into it, and is popular with families. The total elevation gain is 400 ft, dispersed gradually over a mile. Closer to the falls, the trail runs close to Forest Road 58.
After a quiet and serene walk through the shady forest (there is mostly shade along the way, so this is also a great hike for a hot day), you reach the falls. To get to the bottom of the falls, you walk along a rocky ledge and over some wet rocks. The rocks looked more slippery than they were, but proceed with caution.
To get close to the falls pool you will need water shoes, and there is substantial mist off the falls so plan on getting sprayed. We didn’t get that close. There weren’t many places to sit and enjoy the falls that weren’t wet–you might consider bringing a rain poncho or something to sit on if you plan on picnicking or staying awhile.
After a little rest and some admiration of the falls, we headed back. The way back was all gradual downhill, and went by fast.
We encountered a lot more families on the way back, and were glad we got an early start. When we reached the parking lot, it was packed, and more cars were circling around every minute looking for a parking space. We were ready to give up our space to them and head home, when Paddy reached into his pocket for the car key and found a big hole in his pocket…..and no car key.
Paddy went back to the trail to look for it, and I stayed behind with our stuff and tried not to panic. Fortunately, there was cell service and he called me from the trail a few minutes later telling me that someone said they had seen the key at the beginning of the trail. I went over to look some more and a guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was looking for a key–which was in his hand. He said that he had seen it earlier, and then saw that someone had put it on top of the trail post when he returned from the falls. We were relieved and extremely grateful.
I called Paddy and let him know that I had it, and shortly after we were on our way back towards Seattle. Crisis averted. Moral of the story: Don’t trust the pocket seam integrity of $11.00 shorts purchased at a market in Thailand.
We stopped for lunch just outside of North Bend at the Riverbend Cafe. It is a little cafe next to the Cascade Golf Course, with a nice patio as well as comfortable indoor seating. The menu is typical diner fare–breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had a tuna melt and fries, and Paddy had the Italian panini sandwich and fries. The sandwiches were good and the ice tea tasted home brewed.
I would recommend Franklin Falls to anyone looking for an easy day hike with a big scenic payoff. I would also recommend checking your pockets for holes before you put your car key in them.