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5 Great Waterfall Hikes in Washington

An aerial view of Snoqualmie Falls with a rainbow created in its mist.

The Pacific Northwest offers a wide range of recreational opportunities.  From mountaineering to amazing hikes, one can find as many adventures to suit your style.  The region is home to most major climates we know of, from the rain forests in the Olympic Peninsula to the high plains desert east of the Cascade Mountains.  This ecological and climate diversity is also home to many spectacular waterfalls.

Washington State, specifically, boasts amazing recreational opportunities and cater to any customized outdoor adventure.  Washington hosts amazing waterfalls all over the state and to have this post represent all of them, would be an enormous challenge.  Nonetheless, listing a handful of waterfalls worth mentioning will get you started on your bucket list items.

The best part of having hikes with waterfall destinations is that you get to enjoy a beautiful hike while ending with a waterfall.  With the diversity of terrain and climates found throughout Washington, make sure you dig a little deeper into the trip details to help plan your trip.  The 5 waterfall hikes listed here are just the beginning.

1. Boulder Falls (Northwest Washington)

A look at Boulder Falls flowing onto the Boulder River in Washington.

A hike along the Boulder River will take you to Boulder Falls in the Boulder River Wilderness.  A gently sloped hike will get you started along the Boulder River and soon rewarded with views of the waterfall.  The trail doesn’t stop there but continues onward if your itinerary allows it.

There are spots with great views and places to enjoy the scenery while eating a snack or lunch. This would be considered a family-friendly hike and a great way to introduce a wilderness hike to children.

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Round Trip can be 8.6 miles with approximately 700 ft. elevation gain.

2. Sol Duc Falls (Olympic National Park)

Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park with a foot bridge above the falls.

Sol Duc Falls is an accessible hike, almost year-round, for any spectator.  Starting from the Sul Duc hot springs resort, you can do a loop hike with the waterfall as one of your destinations.  This is another family-friendly hike and can be coupled with some soaks from the hot springs resort (please check with the resort as it is a private business).

Round Trip can be 5.3 miles with approximately 400 ft. elevation gain.

3. Palouse Falls (central Washington)

An aerial view of Palouse Falls in Washington after sunset.

Palouse Falls, in Palouse Falls State Park, is Washington’s state waterfall.  This waterfall is a visual icon of Washington’s beauty.  Geologically, it also has a rich history – it is a remnant of the historical Missoula Floods thousands of years ago.  Palouse waterfall is a reminder of the vast processes and beauty that helped shape most of the Pacific Northwest.

Palouse Falls is another accessible waterfall with many family-friendly options.  If you are inclined to added adventure, there are several trails that will take you to the bottom of the falls, to be rewarded with other falls just as spectacular.

The state park is a bit of a drive from major metropolitan areas so consider camping as an option in the state park.  This will provide ample opportunities to view the waterfall in the many lights offered throughout the day, starting with sunrise.

Round Trip can be 2.0 miles with approximately 803 ft. elevation gain.

4. Wallace Falls (Central Cascades)

An aerial view of of Wallace Falls surrounded by tall trees.

One of Washington’s more popular hikes, do not let this discourage you from visiting the falls.  If tranquility is what you seek, head out early to beat the crowds.  Due to its popularity, the trails are well maintained.  This is a hike for both beginners and seasoned hikers.  When you head out, don’t let the name lead you astray as there are 9 waterfalls to be seen in a round trip hike format.

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If doing the round trip is not in the books, you can use the Middle Falls overlook as your halfway point and turn around.  For those seeking a longer day, you can continue deeper into the woods. One amazing feature of this hike is that the waterfalls are not the only scenic part.  The entire hike is considered scenic to many.  So, enjoy the hike and many waterfalls along the way.

Round Trip can be 5.6 miles with approximately 1,300 ft. elevation gain.

5. Marymere Falls (Olympic National Park)

A view of Marymere Falls at Olympic National Park cascading over moss covered rocks.

Another accessible and family-friendly trails that have waterfall views.  Marymere Falls, in the Olympic National Park, can be accessed from the trailhead near the Storm King Ranger Station. Hugging the shores of Lake Crescent, there are other opportunities to explore the area and marvel at the beauty Olympic National Park has to offer.

The trail to the waterfall can be done in a loop.  Within the hike, other hiking options exist to extend your hike.  Another nice feature is a specific, family-friendly, hike found close by.  Hiking with a family or solo, you’ll find plenty to do near Marymere Falls.

Round Trip can be 1.8 miles with approximately 500 ft. elevation gain.

This list represents a small portion of the waterfall hikes Washington has to offer.  Regardless of your objectives, you can customize your trip to assure amazing scenery.  Another nice option on these hikes is to take advantage of the many things Washington has to offer.

If soaking in hot springs sounds nice, plan around that.  If staying at resorts is more your thing, you’re in luck.  If you are not from the local area and need to fly in, Seattle is a major hub but do not overlook other airports found throughout Washington.

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