Seattle is quite a scenic place full of life and adventure. If you love the outdoors, come spring, summer and fall, this is the place to be. With tens of some of the most scenic waterfall hikes near Seattle, you will find some good family hiking to do.
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Get your hiking gear ready and be ready to have a lot of fun. Wildflowers, birdlife, insect life and much more will be readily available for you on these trails. In this short article, I will show you just 14 trails that you can hike alone, and some are good for family hiking.
Why try waterfall hikes near Seattle?
There is just something that is so special and unique about the best waterfall hikes. Perhaps it is because water means life and indeed, there will be a lot of wildlife along these trails. However, the breathtaking majesty of the waterfalls is a sight to remember for a long time.
Depending on the trail that you will be hiking, you need to prepare amply. If you have not been on the trail for some time, take some exercises to warm your muscles up for hiking. You know how it can get sometimes. You have been bound behind the desk for months on end and then when you get some free time to hit the trails, the muscles are so tight. Loosen them up!
You also want to wear a proper pair of hiking shoes. What you wear will depend on the season. If you are hiking in winter, you will want to wear warm hiking boots. If it is spring, summer or fall, you can wear just the regular hiking clothes, boots or shoes.
Packing your pack for a short, daytime hike should not be hard at all. Just toss in an ultralight water filter, a jacket for the outdoors and some snacks. That’s all! If you would like to bring one or a pair of hiking poles, take them.
And now, to the best and most scenic trails with waterfalls in Seattle:
The Best Waterfall hikes near Seattle
Snoqualmie Falls for family hiking
Hike to the base of Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Waterfall is perhaps the one in the closest proximity to Seattle seeing as it is only 30 minutes away.
After parking your car, you can take the short easy hike of 0.7 miles to the base of the Snoqualmie waterfall. You can also go to the upper observation deck. Hiking with kids has never been this fun!
This waterfall is 268 feet in height. Now, that is awesome and if it does wow the wits out of you, then it is because you have not gone to the base. When you get to the base, you will see what we mean. It does not have tiered drops. It is just one, huge white spray of a majestic drop of water.
There are lights for illuminating the waterfalls at night. You may bring your pets to the viewing place and most important, parking is free of charge from dawn to dusk. Do not forget to bring your camera as the falls make a fantastic background for breathtaking photos and videos.
One of the reasons why you should take your family hiking along this trail is that there is a botany lesson for them. Along the trail, there are plaques that identify some of the native plants and animals of Snoqualmie and their native names.
It is always better to choose the best waterfall hikes near Seattle that can educate the kids.
Goat Creek Trail – Cathedral Falls
Quite a fancy name for a trail this one! But the trail itself is quite fancy. You want to prepare well for this hike because it is 2.8 miles long one way, making it a 5.5 miles roundtrip. You should carry enough snacks for your children if you are taking them along. If you will be hiking in the cold seasons, do bring your coffee mug for keeping coffee hot outdoors.
The way this trail snakes around, you will need to wear waterproof hiking pants and jacket. The reason is that you have to pass under the Cathedral Falls, and that means getting some spray onto your body. Many people enjoy the fact that they can get behind the Cathedral Waterfall. It is quite scenic, so you should love it when you get there.
In 1980, Mt Saint Helen erupted, but the lava did not wipe everything out. The forest and the foliage that you will be hiking through is what survived that eruption. With just an elevation gain of 400 feet, this is a fairly easy trail to hike with your little ones, but you may want to bring a baby carrier hiking backpack.
You may also be wondering how the falls got the name Cathedral. It is because of the hollow space behind the falls. It is large and many kids can play together.
The most magnificent thing about this trail is the whoosh and spray of the waters as it drops down the cliff. However, do not be fixated on the big waterfall such that you miss the huge trees at the bottom of the falls.
The height of the waterfall is 248 feet.
Twin Falls State Park Hike
This is a good trail for family hiking with your children and your dog. However, keep the dog leashed. This trail is 1.5 miles long one way, and it has many things to do and see along.
One of the things that you will love about this trail is the salmonberry bushes along each side. The trail is also covered with moss from the conifer forest. Another thing that you are going to love about this trail is that even before you get to the lower falls, you can get a nice view of the higher falls first.
If you are not able to start your hike from the Twin Falls Trailhead, which is sometimes closed due to weather, you can start your hike at the Homestead Valley Trailhead. From there, you should take the Iron Horse Trail and hike for about a third mile.
You will soon get to the junction of the Twin Falls Trail. Take the trail and hike until you get to Big Bridge. Along the way, enjoy the maidenhair ferns and the serene green vegetation of the forest. This should take you right to the falls.
The height of the walls is an impressive 135 feet. The trail difficulty rating is easy, which means it is a good family hiking trail that you can hike all the time that you visit Seattle.
Franklin Falls – One of the best waterfall hikes
Franklin Falls is a three-tier fall that is both misty and quite lovely. The total height of the falls is 135 feet.
You will love that a lot of work has been put into making the trail passable for kids. Rock work and walls have been built at ample places.
In fact, close to the falls, the trail has been carved out of the rocks. This trail is very popular with many families. It is better to get there early enough to get a parking spot at the first parking. If you do not get one there, proceed further and after the first bridge you will find more parking space.
This one is a short hike at 2 miles roundtrip. However, it is also one of the most scenic trails that you can ever hike in Washington. It is rated as easy and thus, you can bring your kids and your leashed dog too for full family hiking. There are small bridges all along and the Denny Creek will always be in view.
Please note that this trail gets rocky as you get near the falls, at least for a 100 feet. Thus, you will need to be careful especially if you are hiking in the wet seasons.
What is your reward? The serene beauty. When you get to the falls, you can sit on the rocks enjoying your snacks. Do also bring something to drink and you may also shoot a few scenic photographs.
Bridal Veil Trail – Bridal Veil Falls
Distance – 4 miles
Things to see: conifers, large alders and maple forest.
Difficulty rating – easy
This is an exciting 2-mile hiking trail (one way) that is good for kids and you are also allowed to bring your dog, but do keep him on a leash.
This is not only a waterfall trail but it is also well supplied with water. You should wear a good pair of waterproof hiking shoes. There are brooks to ford, and crystal-clear springs. At the end of the hike, you will be rewarded with the fantastic mist spray of the waterfall formed by the Bridal Veil Creek spiraling 100 feet down a rock cliff.
The Bridal Veils Falls owe their presence to the Lake Serene. That is their origin. The huge drop of 100 feet causes some serious misting and spray, so be ready to get wet. When you get there and have a picnic with your kids, you will see why this is ranked as one of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle.
To get to the starting area, you will have to use I5 Highway 2. The waterfall is located approximately 1.25 miles from Seattle.
It is best to get there early as the Bridal Veils Trail has become quite popular with many families. Thus, in summer and spring, there are more people for family hiking.
You will be required to pay for parking, not very different from the other waterfall hikes near Seattle.
Sol Duc Falls
The most endearing thing about the hike to the Sol Duc Falls is that you get to see old cabins along the trail. It is a short hike, with a difficulty rating of easy, good for kids but pets, leashed or otherwise are not allowed.
The distance is 1.6 miles. You will start hiking as you come to the Sol Duc road end. It proceeds to a nice level path that passes under huge trees. There are streams, birdlife and many insects for your kids to admire.
If you like, you can make the hike even longer by hiking from the Lovers Lane Trail where you can start at the Sol Duc Hot Springs. That should give you an extra 4 miles on your hike and make it doubly exciting. You should bring your kids carrier backpack if you have little ones, 5 years and below.
The Sol Duc river forms its falls in four segment. One of them is 30 feet, then proceeds to form another of 10 feet, which drops to a nice pool below.
Silver Falls – best waterfall hikes near Seattle
The Silver Falls Loop is a popular waterfall trail in the region of Mount Rainier. Fir forest, banks with moss, clear waters along the trail and so many more features are available on this trail. With 3 miles of roundtrip to walk, this is a short but a fantastic trail where you will enjoy a nice and serene hike, of course with the mighty Ohanapecosh River flowing alongside.
The Ohanapecosh River continues to flow until it meets some steps and spills downwards, eventually forming a beautiful 40 feet fall to a pool down below.
You are not allowed to bring your dog, and you also need to pay an entrance fee to the Mount Rainier National Park. The trailhead is at the Ohanapecosh Campground.
This trail is maintained with care. Thus, even though it has a difficulty rating of moderate thanks to the 300 feet of elevation gain, it is ok to bring your kids along. They will enjoy themselves.
Myrtle Falls for best family hiking
To get to the Myrtle Falls, you will have to use the Skyline Trail. The distance is 4.2 miles through the Mount Rainier National Park and the difficulty rating is difficult. Thus, you need to bring older children for the hike. You will also have to wear good hiking shoes with arch support.
If these falls are not postcard perfect, then I do not know what is. They look fantastic and even the background itself is out of this world. This, as you will see, is a perfect spot to take your family.
Because of the hulking figure of Mount Rainier in the background, you have to stop here and take a photograph or capture a video. It is so incredible looking and you will be glad you came.
You do not have to take the long difficult hike though. There is another way, following the Golden Gate Trail that starts from the Paradise Inn. From the Myrtle Falls is just 0.4 miles. The difficulty rating for this hike is easy.
Please note that the Skyline Trail also starts at Paradise Inn. You will need a Mount Rainier National Park pass to pay for parking.
Wallace Falls State Park
Just like many other easy waterfall hikes near Seattle, you are allowed to bring your dog on a leash on this trail. Wallace Falls hike is one of the best family hiking trails that lead to waterfalls near Seattle.
The Wallace Falls is quite fantastic, as only a 5-tiered fall can be. The waters gush and swoosh down majestically. When you get there, you will agree that indeed, it was a good idea to go see the falls.
With a distance of 5.6 miles round trip, you will be happy to know that there are several resting places, with benches. You should pack enough snacks to feed your troop during the resting breaks. As there are markers along the trail, you are going to have an easy time getting to the waterfall.
You are advised to take the right fork at the junction, and follow the winding Woody Trail as it is the one that leads to the waterfall. You will come to the picnic shelter where you can have your lunch and then proceed to the falls.
There are two ways to hike to the Wallace Falls, which actually comprise of the Lower, Middle and Upper Falls. To get to the Lower Falls, you will walk for about 2 miles from the Trailhead. This is an easy hike with little elevation gain.
You may also decide to proceed to the Middle and Upper Falls. The going will be a bit steep here, but it will also be more rewarding and it is not so popular. You will have your solitude.
Little Mashel Falls
As you look for information about the best waterfall hikes near Seattle, you will find that the Little Mashel Falls rank pretty high on many lists.
You will get free parking. Bring your dog too. It is allowed, but leash him. This trail tends to get a bit slippery as you get towards the falls. Thus, you should ensure that your kids wear the right hiking shoes with good grip.
This is a long family hiking trail, at least for small kids, so you may want to bring a baby carrier pack with you. At 5.5 miles roundtrip, you will love everything about this trail.
At the end of the trail, you will get your reward as the Little Mashel River plunges down at the foothills of the Mt. Rainier, cascading down three huge tiers. The Little Mashel Falls is the biggest fall at 125 feet.
The trail for the falls starts at the Pack Forest in the School of Environmental Studies (University of Washington) and shortly after, you will take a left to the Lathrop Drive RD1000. You should then take the gravel road for about 1.8 miles and then turn left on RD 1070. From there, you will see a rock that has an arrow painted on it and has the word falls. Follow the direction of the arrow.
There are a few routes here and it can be hard to know whether you have taken the right one. However, you will know you are on the right trail when you get to a tree that has been marked with yellow diamonds. Turn right at this tree and proceed to the falls.
Carter Falls – 55 feet high falls
This is another trail that is in the Mount Rainier National Park. Thus, you will be required to pay an entrance fee. However, if you have a kid in grade four, you will not pay anything.
This is roundtrip of 2.2 miles. However, there is a longer loop option but since this is for families, you would do much better to take the shorter route. Also note that this small route is just part of the bigger and more interesting Wonderland Trail that is all of 93 miles long. You can hike the entire length in future.
Your hike will start from the Cougar Rock Campground and then a level trail leads to an old water pipeline which you can then follow the falls. You will also have to cross the Nisqually River, a footbridge made of logs.
You may not bring your dog for this hike. They are not allowed.
Martha Falls – Wonderland Trail
If a waterfall is named after a woman, or has been given the name of a woman, you know it is good. This is another of the gorgeous waterfalls that are located in Mount Rainier National Park. This is a short hike though, being a roundtrip of 2 miles. You can bring your kids but dogs are not allowed on the trail.
With a difficulty level of easy and an elevation gain of 700 feet, this is one of the best waterfall hikes for family. You are supposed to take the Wonderland Trail but it can be a bit of a bother trying to find the trailhead for the first time.
Once you find the Wonderland Trail marker on the Stevens Canyon Road and then follow the path lined with trees to the Unicorn Creek. There, you will eventually find yourself at the base of the falls. You should cross the creek on a log footbridge to the other side to find the most magnificent view of the waterfall.
Like all the other hikes in Mount Rainier National Park, fourth graders are exempted from paying and so are their families. The rest have to pay an entry pass. Family hiking has never been this fun.
Marymere Falls – Best family hiking trail
Located in the Olympic National Park, this is another of the most idyllic hikes near Seattle. It is a level, roundtrip 2-mile hike that has a difficult rating of easy. You can do whole family hiking. Go with your kids, even the preschool kids. You are not allowed to hike with your pet.
This waterfall is 90-feet high, and the white spray is quite impressive as the waters come spiraling. You will start the hike at Storm King Ranger Station and you will find the walk under the giant conifer trees quite awe inspiring.
Be ready for a climb, although not a very big one, to the viewing point. You should also prepare to get wet from the spray. The best waterfall hikes near Seattle are indeed idyllic but they do make the revelers wet.
You should also love the moss-walled pool. If you would like to get an aerial view of the falls, climb higher using the stairs. You will be wowed out of your wits on this trail, as everything is so beautiful.
Murhut Falls Trail – Best waterfall hikes near Seattle
The magnificent Murhut Falls are 117 and 36 feet high, making an impressive 153 feet in total.
This is another short waterfall hike, a roundtrip of 1.6 miles. This is a beautiful waterfall that has two tiers. It is located in the Duckabush Area. The good thing is that you will have an easy time on the trail as it is not very popular with many people.
You will start your hike on an old logging road and then you will climb through a forest of Douglas Firs as you get to the viewing point where you can see the falls. As you get to the last leg of the climb, you will find that the trail narrows down so you will need to hold the hands of your smaller kids.
The best time to hike this trail is summer and spring. In spring, you will be treated to a great view of incredible rhododendron bushes with their colorful pink petals.
You will have to pay the Olympic National Park entrance fee.
Murhut Falls and others that we have discussed here are just several of the best waterfall hikes near Seattle. There are others, some incredibly fantastic and some just so-so. If you love the outdoors, you will never lack an easy or moderate family hiking trail where you can go hiking with your family. You can even go hiking in winter.