For a short, easy hike with exceptional views, Snoqualmie Falls is a great choice. It’s perfect for families with children, dog friendly, and best of all, free!
The Snoqualmie Falls hike is under 1 mile each way, sits on 2 acres, has lower and upper decking views, and both the viewing decks have free parking; the upper deck parking is close to the upper deck and is handicap accessible. The park is open 7 days a week from sunup to sundown.
Sound the perfect trail for you? Here’s everything you need to know before hiking Snoqualmie Falls!
Who Can Hike Snoqualmie Falls?
Just about anyone can complete the Snoqualmie Falls trail. The short trail is wide and fairly even with long switchbacks that afford great views of the falls at different angles and heights.
Snoqualmie Falls is ideal for families with small children, for those who want an easy walk with options for other activities nearby (hiking, biking, gambling if the weather is bad), and for hikers who want some amazing photos.
However, people with mobility issues or who are unfit have found the hike back up difficult because of the steep grade.
Why Choose Snoqualmie Falls?
There’s an enormous number of excellent hikes near Seattle–why choose this one?
Snoqualmie Falls itself is an impressive 270 foot waterfall, is surrounded by tall, old-growth trees, spills over a wide basin, and crashes over a sharp cliff face with a thunderous boom.
The Snoqualmie Falls hiking trail is wide, fairly even with several switchbacks that give the hiker many views of the falls at different heights and advantage points.
However, hiking Snoqualmie Falls is more than just the amazing waterfall. It’s interesting for it’s myriad of native vegetation, its density of old and new growth trees and it’s several lookout points, and is widely considered one of the best Seattle day trip destinations.
There’s no doubt that the falls are special; wide, fierce, thunderous and whether you’re viewing from the top or the bottom of the falls you’ll be glad you brought your camera!
Snoqualmie Falls is an interpretive trail with markers along the path that educate the hiker on the flora and fauna that you’ll find throughout the park. The path down goes past the hydroelectric power plant and has a boardwalk that ends at the base of the falls. Picnic areas and a public bathroom are also at the end of the trail.
What to Know Before Visiting Snoqualmie Falls
Consider visiting after it has rained.
During the summer or dry weather, the falls can get down to 50 feet across, but after rainy weather or a storm, the width reaches 150ft. This is also the most crowded time to visit, but it’s worth it. The noise and spray from the falls when it’s full is impressive but the spray makes taking a photo a real challenge and the loud thunder from the falls can scare small children.
At times, if it’s cold enough, part of the falls will freeze. If that happens, or if the river is flooding or overflowing, Snoqualmie Falls is especially stunning.
Keep closures and personal safety in mind.
It’s fairly common for the lower trail and deck to be closed during bad and wet weather because it’s considered unsafe. Many people will hop on some large boulders by the decks for some advantageous sightseeing, but make sure these rocks are dry.
Don’t miss the lodge!
Atop of the falls sits the stunning Salish Lodge, the park also has a quaint gift shop and is home to the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Plant and Museum.
The plant is the first-ever completely underground hydroelectric power plant and can be seen from the top of the falls and you’ll pass a fenced off portion on the walk down to the bottom of the trail.
Other Ways to See Snoqualmie Falls
Don’t want to hike? There are other ways to enjoy Snoqualmie Falls!
The Snoqualmie Depot is a beautiful park, free to the public and home to an historic, old fashioned railroad coach train that travels up through the dense forest and chugs up to the top of the falls, where visitors have a panoramic view of the falls, Salish Lodge and the power plant.
The train tickets must be bought ahead of time online, the trip is a total of 90 minutes, the schedule changes seasonally and special holiday trips are offered.
The Snoqualmie Depot is a small area with restaurants, shops, and a museum. The Snoqualmie Depot is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; it’s a beautiful building and the train ride is cool and fun for everyone.
Please note that there are no bathrooms on the train. It’s very much an old fashioned train, the climb up is steep, the train can be loud, sways a little, and has large windows for amazing views of the falls and the heavily wooded area.
Taking the train is a great addition to the hike up the falls as it gives a wider view and is an experience within itself.
Getting to Snoqualmie Falls
Whether coming from the north or the south, the way to the falls is well marked off of I-5 and you’ll take interstates or highways almost the whole way and ends at the railroad depot before turning left to Snoqualmie Falls.
The larger parking lot is on the right just past the walking bridge, the smaller one is also just past the walking bridge, but it’s closer to the falls.
Tips for Completing the Snoqualmie Falls Hike
Even though the trail is wide and easy, it’s always wise to wear sturdy and comfortable shoes. The trail can have rocks and during the rainy season gets wet, maybe muddy and the bridges and boardwalks can be slippery.
The spray from the falls is cold and it gets windy so bring a rain slicker, and make sure the water won’t damage your camera.
If you have a young child who is sensitive to noise keep them away from the platform closest to the falls; it’s very loud.
Interesting Facts About the Falls
The falls are illuminated at night and the park is dog friendly; dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
The falls flow over an extinct volcano that’s over 20 million years old.
Snoqualmie is the English translation for the Salish tribe word meaning moon and was considered a spiritual place by the Salish people.
Snoqualmie Falls is featured in the opening credits of the TV show “Twin Peaks”.
If you want to stay at the falls and see the falls lit up at night, consider a stay at Salish Spa and Lodge, perched atop the falls and is suited for romantic getaways and for experiencing an elevated cuisine experience.
More Fun Things to Do Near Snoqualmie Falls
If you want to spend the whole day in the area, there’s plenty to do close to Snoqualmie Falls.
There’s Snoqualmie Casino for gambling, wine tasting, and a small local theater.
If the weather is nice and you need an adventure, try paragliding, climbing Tiger Mountain or Mt. Si, or trying out an amazing river float with Fall City Floating (available seasonally).
For a variety of activities, such as boating, swimming, fishing, picnicking, or hiking people flock to the Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area. It’s an 111-acre park that has access to bike and horse trails. Please note, there is no camping or campfires allowed and no feeding the wildlife.
For a family adventure pay a visit to Remlinger Farms. It’s got a small, cute train, rides for kids and berry picking.
The Farmers Market has fresh farm grown food including pies and sauces.
How to Prepare for a Trip to Snoqualmie Falls
Think about what type of experience you want. For a fuller day at the falls, go after a rainy day, but bring rain gear, protective gear for your phone or camera and realize on many days the falls are really crowded and there will be many dogs.
Parking is free but parking is not abundant.
If you want to do the train ride up to the top, be early, buy your ticket online and make sure the kids use the bathroom before they board. If you want an all-day experience, visit on nicer days so that you can spend outdoor time at one of the surrounding mountains or lakes.
If you like cold weather, hike the falls in the winter when it’s snowing; it’s truly beautiful. However, it’s obviously also cold and wet, so dress appropriately. Then head over to the Summit at Snoqualmie (33 minutes away) for some skiing and snowboarding.
No matter what you wish to do or what type of weather you prefer, a Snoqualmie Falls hike is a fantastic way to enjoy a day out in Washington!
What to Read Next
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