Twin Falls in Olallie State Park

February 6th, 2014 | by | 2 Comments
Published in Destinations, Hiking, Landscapes, Pacific Northwest, Rivers and Streams, Washington, Waterfalls
Tags: , , , , , ,

Even in the wet drizzle of a grey day, Olallie State Park is a special place. The South Fork of the Snoqualmie River tumbles over boulders as it makes its way down through the Cascades towards Everett and ultimately, Puget Sound. I stopped in on my way south to Seattle back in December, 2013 when the trail was still in good shape.

South Fork Snoqualmie River

The South Fork Snoqualmie River works its way through boulders alongside the trail to Twin Falls in Olallie State Park, Washington.

It looks possible to take a short cut almost directly down to the trail close to Twin Falls from I-90, but the longer approach is well worth it. Walking along the Snoqualmie one gets a sense of the timelessness of the lush rainforest on either side of the river. Massive red cedars and Douglas-fir grow in this damp river valley, as does big-leaf maple wrapped in thick moss and cascades of liquorice fern. Red-alder lines the open areas along the river where the forest is shaped and altered by seasonal water flows.

Twin Falls, Olallie State Park

A distant view of Twin Falls from the river.

The first stretch of trail is fairly flat and level. Closer to Twin Falls, it gains elevation and works its way around a ridge before descending again. At this lower point it is possible to access the river and with a bit of scrambling get a view of Twin Falls from river level. I stopped here on the way back to photograph the river and Twin Falls upstream. It should be possible to work through the boulders at the base of the ridge and get a better unobstructed view of the falls, but it looked a little tricky and the weather was less than ideal and the day was getting late. I was content to enjoy the river with the fine company of an American dipper.

The trail rises again to climb a second ridge. On my way in I actually by-passed the stairs and walkway that leads to a spectacular viewing platform opposite the main 45 meter drop of Lower Twin Falls and pushed on to the Middle and Upper Twin falls. A bridge crosses over the river and provides an excellent view down the steep sided valley to the Middle Twin Falls.

Middle Twin Falls

A view of Middle Twin Falls from the bridge crossing over the river.

On the other side of the bridge, the trail continues to climb to another viewing area with partial views of the Upper Twin Falls, a much smaller 4.5 meter punch bowl waterfall. There’s a rough trail that leads down to the base of this waterfall, but it wasn’t really worth it at this time of year—you get a better unobstructed view of the waterfall, but the high volume of water and mist in the air made photography impossible.

Lower Twin Falls

The main 45 meter drop of Lower Twin Falls in Olallie State Park, Washington.

On the way back I stopped at the lower viewing platform and was stunned by the beauty of Lower Twin Falls. The river flows in delicate strands over smooth sloping rock face into a deep pool. You get a real feeling of the height of the falls and the unrelenting power of the water that has shaped the stone over countless years.

The hike out to Twin Falls is a very doable family 4 km (2.5 miles) round trip even with the two climbs in the middle. Make sure to take your time and enjoy the river and the forest along the way out and back. A Washington State Parks day or annual pass is required and can be purchased at the Twin Falls trailhead.

Need to Know:

  • Access to Twin Falls via the Twin Falls Trailhead is currently closed due to a landslide that damaged the trail in January, 2014. Washington State Parks advises hikers to use the Homestead Valley Trailhead instead.

Further Reading:


Responses

  1. Jill Irwin says:

    March 15th, 2014 at 7:41 pm (#)

    ummm, already left a comment? Not sure if it took when I signed in via FB/Disqus…?? Anway, in case it didn’t, nice post, beautiful photos, I hike Twin Falls often, hadn’t heard the access to trailhead was closed! Very popular hike on weekends. Here’s my blog post about winter hiking and Twin Falls in particular. http://pacificnwseasons.blogspot.com/2011/02/northwest-winter-hikes-twin-falls-and.html
    Happy trails!

  2. Dave Ingram says:

    March 15th, 2014 at 8:28 pm (#)

    Hi Jill – thanks for stopping in… I didn’t see any comments from you in my moderation list but that doesn’t mean that I might have missed it : ) Thanks for your blog link as well – it’s on my list.

    Not sure if the trail to Twin Falls is repaired yet – if anyone has done it recently and wants to post an update in the comment section that would be great!

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