The Pacific Northwest is home to North America’s highest concentration of waterfalls, with most of them found in the Columbia River Gorge that winds between Oregon and Washington state.
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Aside from the incredible views, one of the best perks of exploring the Washington falls is they’re quite easy to access; in fact, some of these natural wonders are less than a five minute walk from the parking lot.
From family friendly hikes to spectacular hidden gems, here are 10 of the best waterfalls in Washington state.
1) Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls is one of the top attractions in the PNW, attracting nearly two million visitors each year who come to marvel at its 268-foot drop over steep granite cliffs.
The waterfall is just 30 minutes east of Seattle which makes this a popular day trip from the city, and surrounded by a serene park with an observation deck, gift shop and the Salish Lodge which has views of this natural wonder from some rooms.
There are great views of Snoqualmie all around the gorge’s rim, as well as a half-mile mile trail that leads to the base of the falls.
2) Spirit Falls
Brilliant turquoise water, heart-pumping rock scrambles and a thundering waterfall are among the highlights of hiking to Spirit Falls WA near White Salmon.
Thanks to the power of the water that cascades off the cliffside then flows down into the Little White Salmon River, this special spot is ranked as one of the prettiest Columbia River Gorge waterfalls.
While the trail in is a short out-and-back that only takes about 20 minutes each way, prepare for a grind since the mile-long trail is challenging due to steep terrain and a rocky pathway. Once you make it, enjoy the views of the thundering falls and keep an eye out for expert kayakers paddling in the water below.
3) Hardy Falls on Hamilton Mountain Washington
The Hamilton Mountain trailhead is in Beacon Rock State Park near the Bonneville Dam and Bridge of the Gods which is part of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Hamilton Mountain hike takes about three hours up to the top, where there are sweeping views of the Columbia River, Cascade mountains, Table Mountain and Beacon Rock. While the vantage point from the summit is the highlight of this hike, there are some great stopping points along the wooded trail including Hardy Falls.
The water pools over jagged rocks which are framed by lush moss and ferns, and steps veering off the pathway lead to a great lookout point. A short walk further along the trail brings hikers to two more Gorge waterfalls: Rodney Falls and Pool of the Winds. Admire them from the wooden bridge or take the steps up for a closer look–just prepared to get soaked!
4) Panther Creek Falls
Panther Creek Falls is a 130-foot tall set of cascading springs, making it one of the most impressive Columbia Gorge waterfalls.
Found off Highway 14 in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest between Carson and Trout Lake, the waterfall is accessed by a winding, narrow paved road surrounded by towering trees. While the trailhead isn’t well marked, it’s actually quite accessible at only a one-mile walk to the base which makes this one popular with families.
There are two viewpoints, including a large observation deck surrounded by lush ferns and towering trees that overlooks the waterfall and a one-mile, forested pathway leading straight to the base.
The forested trail is only one mile long which makes this doable for families, and there are a series of tranquil pools framed by mossy rocks and fallen logs off to the right which makes for great photo-ops.
5) Husum Falls
While Husum Falls is only 12 feet tall, it packs a punch as the grand finale of the tallest commercially rafted waterfall route in the country.
Found near the hamlet of BZ Corner in southern Washington, the falls are in the White Salmon River which is framed by soaring cliffs and gem-toned glacial water that flows down from Mt. Adams.
There are two ways to experience Husum Falls: view it from the nearby bridge, or go whitewater rafting right over it! The stunning scenery combined with Class III-IV rapids makes this one of the best things to do in the Columbia River Gorge, and trips can be booked through local outfitters including Zoller’s, River Drifters or Wet Planet.
The trip includes cliff-jumping and takes a few hours, ending with an opportunity to navigate the steep drop that ends up in a boulder garden and is guaranteed to completely submerge you.
6) Falls Creek Falls
At 335-feet high, Falls Creek Falls is one of the highest southern Washington State waterfalls–in fact, it’s so tall that it’s impossible to see the entirety of the triple-tiered falls from below.
A mild, 3.4 mile out-and-back trail leads to the falls, and at only 750 feet in elevation it’s a good hike for most skill levels. The hike through a tranquil forest includes crossing a cable suspension bridge that has great views of the rocky gorge below, before arriving at the waterfall.
7) Lower Lewis River Falls
One of the most breathtaking Washington waterfalls is found deep in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest northwest of Trout Lake, where the Lower Lewis River Falls pour into shimmering natural swimming holes.
The magnificent 200-foot wide set of falls are 43 feet high, which can be seen from a viewpoint near the parking lot up top or by heading down to the shoreline for some fun in the sun. Bring beach chairs if you plan to spend the day here since it’s quite rocky, and keep in mind that it’s mandatory to purchase a day pass online ahead of time during the summer months.
8) Palouse Falls
The incredible city of Walla Walla Washington is known for its award-winning wineries and fantastic foodie scene, and it’s also the gateway to Palouse Falls.
Found a one hour drive north in the Palouse Falls State Park Heritage Site, this 180-foot-tall wonder is one of the best Washington State waterfalls. It was carved out more than 13,000 years ago, and cascades down into a deep canyon which makes it look like a scene straight out of Iceland.
The 94-acre park has three different views of the falls: the lower viewpoint accessed by a set of steps from the main day use area which has a direct view, a second one found at the end of a paved interpretive path, and Fryxell Overlook which is the highest viewpoint and offers panoramic views of the falls and Palouse River Canyon.
9) Marymere Falls and Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is in the northern part of the state near the Canadian border, and home to towering mountain ranges, rainforests, sun-kissed beaches and waterfalls.
One of the best is Marymere Falls, a picturesque 90-foot waterfall accessed by a 1.7 mile out-and-back hike. It’s near Lake Crescent, a deep, glacial lake popular for sailing, kayaking and fishing.
Sol Duc Falls is one of the prettiest waterfalls in Olympic National Park, cascading nearly 50 feet down into a rocky canyon.
The trailhead for the 1.6 mile, family-friendly loop starts behind Sol Duc Hot Springs resort, where there are three mineral soaking pools and a freshwater pool, fed by rain and melting snow which seeps through sedimentary rocks and mixes with gas from volcanic rocks, creating mineralized spring waters.
10) Spokane Falls
The thundering Spokane Falls carve out a deep gorge in the centre of the city, making this one of Spokane’s top tourist attractions.
The Spokane River has been used to provide hydroelectric power since the 1880s, and the force of the water is so strong you can hear it before seeing it. There are numerous lookout points around the city, with one of the best being Huntington Park near City Hall. Walk across the suspended pedestrian bridges on the north side of Riverfront Park to feel the spray, and get a birds-eye view of one of the best waterfalls in Washington state by taking a ride on the SkyRide cable car.
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