The Best Easy Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle

If you’re looking for easy waterfall hikes near Seattle, you will find some amazing adventures just outside the city. An easy hike from Seattle is among the best ways to experience the beauty of Washington state. This corner of the United States is dotted with an array of impressive waterfalls, many of which are conveniently accessible as half-day or full-day excursions. We’ve handpicked the best waterfall hikes near Seattle for you, from the laid-back walk to Franklin Falls to trails that’ll really get your heart racing if you’re up for a challenge.

The Seattle area is ideally situated for these adventures and acts as a gateway to over 3,000 documented cascades, so it’s not uncommon for nature lovers to make this beloved city a base camp for adventures. The city’s strategic location places it at the center of everything, making it easy to immerse in nature without venturing too far. See what else you can do in Seattle with these date night ideas for Seattle and the Eastside.

Whether you’re a casual hiker or an experienced trekker, there are waterfall hikes near Seattle to quench your thirst for adventure. Here are the best of them!

Safety & Preparedness

Before setting off on any of the waterfall hikes near Seattle, safety should be top of mind. A few things before you go:

  • Always check the weather forecast, as conditions can change rapidly, turning a great place into a potential hazard.
  • Notify someone of your plans – let a friend or family member know where you’re headed and when you plan to return.
  • Always stay on designated trails. Not only does this protect the environment, but it also ensures your safety during your adventure.
  • Consider downloading hiking apps like Gaia GPS, one of the most popular apps for hiking navigation. Apps like this help you find the trailhead and stay on course.
  • Research your destination before you go, and know what animals you might encounter. If you’re in bear country, bring bear bells, bear spray, or a whistle to protect yourself.

Things to Bring

No matter if it’s late summer or late spring, a raincoat should top your packing list. Given that Seattle sees rain on 43 percent of its days—amounting to 156 rainy days annually—it’s rainier here than in many other major U.S. cities. Venturing outside the city won’t save you from unexpected downpours. Opt for brightly colored, reflective rain jackets while hiking; they can make it easier for rescuers to locate you if necessary.

Ensure you have the necessary entrance and parking passes, like the Discover Pass for Twin Falls. Different waterfall hikes have distinct pass requirements, though some trails are accessible to the public without any charge. 

Waterproof boots (like the Merrell pair I use) with a solid grip are a must, and if you’re headed to falls with swimmable bases, toss in a swimsuit! Round off your checklist with must-haves like:

Easy Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle

Snoqualmie Falls

Location: Snoqualmie, Washington
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 1.5 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 40 minutes
Elevation Gain: 250 feet
Pass Requirement: Discover Pass (lower parking only)

Snoqualmie Falls near North Bend is a gem among waterfall hikes near Seattle and is a perfect day trip from the city. Given its ease of access and beauty, don’t be surprised that you have to share the beauty of this easy hike on the Snoqualmie River with a crowd. But not to worry, the area is expansive, with options to further explore around Snoqualmie Pass. 

Arrive as early as possible to take advantage of the upper parking lot, where you can park free of charge. If the crowd beats you to it, you can park at the lower lot with a $7 fee (as of August 30, 2023). Once at the trailhead, which you’ll spot relatively easily given it’s where everybody else is walking, follow the path to the top of the falls, and you’ll discover various viewpoints unveiling the falls’ majesty, along with informative signs touching upon its history and significance. For a more extended stay, the Salish Lodge nearby offers a delightful escape, while the Visitor’s Center and gift shop are great for souvenirs.

For a different view, park at the lower falls on Fish Hatchery Rd, where you can walk to a viewpoint at the bottom of the falls and hike up to the top. There is also river access here, making it a perfect summer afternoon spot with lots of shallow pools and boulders for kids to jump and play on. The lower parking area has some interpretative signs describing the hydroelectric power plant you walk by, as well as restroom facilities.

Franklin Falls

Photo by Rob Shields on Unsplash

Location: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 4.5 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Franklin Falls ranks among the most popular hikes and for good reasons.

Franklin Falls offers a rewarding escape into the Pacific Northwest’s enchanting wilderness, and the good news is it’s just an hour’s drive from Seattle near Snoqualmie Pass. This easy waterfall hike rewards you with views of a gorgeous waterfall nestled beneath Interstate 90, with ample parking that can accommodate 90 cars (30 cars in the first lot, 60 in the larger one situated half a mile ahead). Given this waterfall hike is a popular destination, secure a parking spot as early as possible. Franklin Falls is currently closed to visitors through summer 2023 as a new trailhead and parking lot is constructed – check back for updated parking information!

Starting from the bulletin board in the parking area, the trail leads you through verdant old-growth forest, shaded and comfortable even on sunnier Washington days. Over a mile, expect recent enhancements like bridges and steps, all of which were placed to help ensure the safety of all visitors. The path offers glimpses of the falls cascading 70 feet down, but it’s the final tier, visible at the base of the falls, that steals the show. Especially between April and July, the melting winter snow swells the falls, making it a spectacle.

One note of caution for families is that there is a short, steep section right as you reach the falls that is fairly treacherous for little kids. Keep a tight grip and be prepared to wait your turn, as the trail is not quite wide enough for people to go in both directions.

Deception Falls

Photo by Dave on Unsplash

Location: Steven’s Pass on Route 2
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 0.8 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 1.25 hours
Elevation Gain: 65 feet
Pass Requirement: None

Hidden just off the busy route over Stevens Pass, Deception Falls offers a serene escape that most travelers often overlook but which is worth a closer look. This multi-tiered marvel is enveloped in the tranquility of old-growth forest and features a 0.2-mile ADA-accessible that even toddlers can navigate. Should you decide to give this easy waterfall hike a go, you will be rewarded with views of Deception Creek’s powerful waters crashing dramatically into a granite barrier, making an astonishing 90-degree turn. Once you’ve had your fill of waterfall views, unwind for a bit at the picnic tables at the rest area.

Narada Falls

Photo by Joshua Peacock on Unsplash

Location: Mount Rainier National Park
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 0.75 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 2.25 hours
Elevation Gain: 100 feet
Pass Requirement: National Park Entrance Fee or Annual Pass

Situated within Mount Rainier National Park, Narada Falls is a captivating sight, easily accessible, and a standout among waterfalls near Seattle. At just a short walk from the parking area, you can always feast your eyes on a waterfall that boasts a stunning 168-foot drop into a slender canyon. Whether you’re viewing from the road’s adjacent overlook or venturing on the trail to the falls’ base, the vistas are spectacular. 

Additionally, since this is a family-friendly hike, there is a nearby viewing platform where the whole family can appreciate its magnificence without hiking too far. If you spot a guide, feel free to ask about the tales of Native American spirits and mysterious vanishings, a local legend that makes Narada Falls even more fascinating.

Coal Creek Falls

Location: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 2.5 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 35 minutes
Elevation Gain: 416 feet
Pass Requirement: None

Coal Creek Falls is settled within the lush forests of Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Located less than 20 miles from Seattle, this 28-foot waterfall serves as a peaceful respite for Seattle’s dwellers. Be aware, though, that the water flow is seasonal, so the best time to visit is during the rainy winter months. The trail itself is a pleasant journey that features a medley of maple and cedar trees. If you take time to look, you will also spot relics of past mining activities along the way. 

This is a great, easy waterfall hike near Seattle, as one of the closest and one of the flattest. It’s a bit boring for kids until the very end, when you reach the falls and the creek, which they will love playing around. There is a fallen tree creating a bridge across the creek that kids will love to test their balance on.

Rattlesnake Ledge

Photo Credit: Katie Egresi

Location: North Bend
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 4.0 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 37 minutes
Elevation Gain: 1,160 feet
Pass Requirement: None

Rattlesnake Ledge offers hikers a blend of panoramic views and forested trails. As a short hike, it’s perfect for those looking for a quick escape into nature without dedicating an entire day. Once atop the Rattlesnake Ledge, the easy trail that you’ve conquered will reward you with a breathtaking vista of the surrounding landscape, including the shimmering Rattlesnake Lake below. This should be on top of your list if you’re looking for an easily accessible hiking spot that delivers on views (though not a waterfall).

Myrtle Falls

Location: Mount Rainier National Park
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 0.5 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 2.75 hours
Elevation Gain: 185 feet
Pass Requirement: National Park Pass

Myrtle Falls is another waterfall hike located in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s one of the locals’ favorite easy hikes as it’s merely a short stride from the Paradise Visitor Center. As the falls tumble 72 feet, the magnificent Tohoma majestically rises in the backdrop, every photographer’s dream. For those with a thirst for more, consider walking the Skyline Loop Trail, a short hike that features a panorama of cascading waterfalls, vibrant wildflowers, and awe-inspiring mountain views. Best visited in the early summer when melting snow amplifies its splendor, Myrtle Falls is an idyllic escape for those seeking nature’s artwork just a day trip away from Seattle.

Marymere Falls

Location: Olympic National Park
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 1.8 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 2.50 hours
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Pass Requirement: National Park Pass

A hike to Marymere Falls is a must-not miss for those planning to visit the Olympic National Park. This hidden gem on the Olympic Peninsula takes visitors through mossy old-growth forests and a peaceful stroll beside the serene Lake Crescent. Once you reach the end of the trail, the reward is the stunning 90-foot waterfall cascading gracefully, pooling into the crystal-clear waters below. Embodying the pristine beauty of the Pacific Northwest, these falls provide the perfect backdrop for photographs or moments of serene contemplation. Its unique tranquility distinguishes Marymere Falls from others, making it a must-visit sanctuary for those seeking to immerse themselves in nature’s embrace.

Whatcom Falls

Photo by Rosalind LeBlanc on Unsplash

Location: Bellingham
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 4.0 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 50 feet
Pass Requirement: None

Whatcom Falls is a highlight for those venturing near the Canadian border in northwestern Washington. Located in Bellingham within Whatcom Falls Park, these cascading waters offer more than just a sight; they’re an experience. The falls drop gracefully over 20 feet, pooling amidst old-growth trees and moss-covered rocks. You’ll find a parking lot close by, making access easy. Once parked, you’re a short walk from trails leading right to the cascade’s base. Aside from hiking, you’ll also find locals picnicking and just spending the day soaking in nature.

Moderate Difficulty Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle

Twin Falls

Location: Olallie State Park
Hike Distance Roundtrip:  2.5 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 60 minutes
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Pass Requirement: Discover Pass

Twin Falls, located within Olallie State Park, is a must-visit for those near Seattle. It’s a mere half-hour drive east and is perfect for those looking for a quick escape. Starting from the parking lot or the Homestead Valley trailhead, the hike is about 2.5 miles roundtrip and occasionally presents some slippery scrambles and switchbacks. The first section of the Twin Falls trail offers a glimpse of seasonal wildflowers. As you progress, the lower viewpoint provides the best views of the Lower Falls. Finally, crossing a scenic bridge, the main attraction awaits–the Upper Falls, offering unparalleled beauty. Given its popularity, be ready to share this natural spectacle with other enthusiasts.

Wallace Falls

Location: Wallace Falls State Park
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 6 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 60 minutes
Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
Pass Requirement: Discover Pass

Wallace Falls is undeniably one of the best waterfalls near the Seattle area. Nestled within the Wallace Falls State Park, it’s the perfect place to get your heart rate up – though I’ve done it with a baby in a carrier, so it’s definitely doable for all fitness levels. Starting from the spacious parking lot, it’s wise to arrive early, especially on weekends because this is a popular hike. The hike, a moderate round trip through dense forest, runs parallel to the Wallace River, enveloped in vibrant green foliage.

At about two miles in, you’ll meet the Lower Falls. Venture a bit more, and the Middle Falls reveals panoramic sights of the Skykomish River Valley and distant glimpses of the Olympic Mountains. Though tempting to stop, venture a little further, approximately a half mile more, to witness the Upper Falls’ majestic descent into the river below. The journey, replete with cascades and nature’s marvels, is well worth the effort.

Bridal Veil Falls

Location: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 4 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 1.25 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,380 feet
Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Bridal Veil Falls is a true gem near Seattle and stands out as one of the most beautiful waterfall spots. Just a short drive from the city, passing through Gold Bar, you’ll hit Mount Index Road leading to this favorite haunt of local hikers. Following signs to Lake Serene Trail, the popular trail parking lot emerges, which, despite its size, fills up fast—which means your best time for a spot is on weekdays.

The trail features a forest of maples and ancient conifers, occasionally crisscrossing streams. After catching your breath over the lower falls, brace yourself for the last stretch. With over a thousand feet of elevation gain, you’ll tackle a rugged ascent leading to the heart of Bridal Veil Falls. There, you’ll be treated to unobstructed views of a spectacular cascade tumbling over rocks, settling into a serene pool below, easily making it one of the favorite hikes in the region.

Little Mashel Falls

Location: University of Washington Pack Forest
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 5.0 miles
Travel Time from Seattle:
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Pass Requirement: None

Little Mashel Falls isn’t as “little” as the name suggests. Boasting a majestic drop of 120 feet, it’s the tallest among three falls nestled near Eatonville. These falls can be explored via the University of Washington Pack Forests trail system. However, the Pack Forest trail is basic with no amenities, and its web of old roads demands extra caution.

There’s also the Bud Blancher trail, with a bit more elevation gain and potentially muddy patches. Both are open throughout the year. Additionally, it’s essential to note the surrounding land’s diverse ownership, including the University of Washington and the cities of Eatonville and Tacoma. Be cautious around the railroad near Tom Tom Falls, which is strictly off-limits. Always respect property rights when visiting Little Mashel Falls.

Challenging Waterfall Hikes Near Seattle

Keekwulee Falls

Location: Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 3.0 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 54 minutes
Elevation Gain: 1,183 feet – 3,236 feet
Pass Requirement: Northwest Forest Pass

Keekwulee Falls is an awe-inspiring spectacle nestled in the heart of Olympic National Park. This hidden gem gracefully plunges down a staggering 167 feet, culminating in a shimmering pool. Reaching Keekwulee Falls demands dedication. It’s accessible only through a challenging hike with notable elevation gain amidst rugged terrains. But those who venture are rewarded with mesmerizing views of ancient forests and possibly sightings of black bears or mountain goats – keep your bear spray or bear bells handy. For those with an adventurous spirit, Keekwulee Falls promises not just a hike but a transformative journey, cementing its status as one of Washington State’s most splendid waterfalls.

Comet Falls

Photo credit: NPS

Location: Mount Rainier National Park
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 3.8 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 2.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,279 feet
Pass Requirement: National Park Pass

Comet Falls, located within Mount Rainier National Park, stands as a testament to nature’s grandeur, cascading down an impressive 320 feet. Just a stone’s throw from Seattle, its unparalleled beauty ranks it among the area’s best waterfalls. Beyond its stature, the surrounding lush forests and rugged landscapes offer a great hike for those thirsting for adventure. 

The trail to the falls presents its own set of challenges–steep inclines, uneven paths strewn with roots and rocks, and occasional stream crossings without bridges. The great hike also demands an elevation gain, testing your endurance and stamina. Yet, the rewards—a breathtaking waterfall and surrounding scenic vistas—are unmatched. While there, also consider exploring other waterfalls and trails.

Teneriffe Falls

Photo by Peter Robbins on Unsplash

Location: Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area
Hike Distance Roundtrip: 5.6 miles
Travel Time from Seattle: 60 minutes
Elevation Gain: 1,585 feet
Pass Requirement: Discover Pass

Teneriffe Falls is among the best hikes near Seattle, especially if you’re looking for a challenge. The trail, part of the Mount Teneriffe trail system, features steep inclines and numerous switchbacks snaking through dense forests. Nearby trailheads, Little Si and Mount Si, are easy to locate from the spacious paved parking lot that holds over 100 cars. Note the gate’s opening and closing times as they change seasonally.

Once you navigate the terrain and reach the great spot between the upper and lower falls, you’re rewarded with a breathtaking view of water pouring over rocky terrains into a serene pool below. On sunny days, many hikers take off their shoes to wade into the refreshing waters.

More Things to Do Near Seattle

The Seattle area is teeming with attractions, both within the city and in its scenic outskirts. While downtown Seattle boasts numerous hot spots, there are plenty of unique date night ideas on the east side as well.

If you’re in Washington State, the main attraction often leans towards its breathtaking natural wonders. Beyond the cascade of waterfall hikes, consider venturing to places like the Columbia River Gorge or less visited national parks like the North Cascades National Park, both offering a panorama of beauty, even if they’re not known for waterfalls. For those keen on marine life, there are exceptional whale-watching tours throughout western Washington. 

The opportunities for a memorable adventure in the Seattle area are vast. Tailor your itinerary to your passion, but always keep room for those spontaneous, unexpected experiences.

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I'm Ashley, the founder of Wanderlux and a travel junkie. When I'm not at home near Seattle, Washington, you can find me on the beach in Mexico or traveling the world. Wherever I am, I aim to travel respectfully, show my kids new things, and learn more than I teach.




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